A member of Greenville City Council says she's not going to stop expressing her Christian faith at meetings.
At Monday night's council meeting, Mayor Pro-Tem Rose Glover showed her support for prayer at meetings, and specifically praying "in Jesus name" based on her Christian faith.
The prayer debate was addressed after the Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter to Mayor Allen Thomas last week, urging council to stop invocations because they weren't giving equal recognition to all religions.
City attorney David Holec says the law permits council to continue to hold prayers, but they cannot reference a specific religion.
Glover says the next time it's her turn to give the invocation, that won't stop her. Glover says, "I don't know any other way to pray but to pray in the name of Jesus. Every school I've ever been to, everything I've been taught, and even the Bible says pray in the name of Jesus.
Glover says she's not trying to offend anyone, she's just proud of her religion.
During the public comment period about a dozen people spoke in favor of continuing prayer at meetings. No one spoke in opposition.
There was no prayer at Monday's meeting because councilmember Calvin Mercer lead the invocation and just holds a moment of silence.
Greenville Mayor Allen Thomas is reacting to a demand to end prayer at city council meetings by the Freedom From Religion Foundation. Mayor Thomas posted the letter sent to him by the nonprofit based in Madison, Wisconsin on his Facebook page and commented, "Freedom includes the freedom of speech and expression. If someone disagrees with my expression or beliefs they have the freedom to make their opinion known each election at the ballot box."
Thomas says he and 4 city council members choose to pray before each meeting and 2 council members do not. The letter from FFRF's attorney Patrick Elliott says the group received a complaint from an unnamed resident about Greenville City Council meetings regularly opening with Christian prayer. The letter says prayer at government meetings is unnecessary, inappropriate, and divisive.
The FFRF letter requests a written response at Mayor Thomas' earliest convenience indicating what steps the council will take to assure compliance with the constitution.
The FFRF is a nationwide nonprofit organization which claims to have 19,000 members across the country including 400 in North Carolina. The foundation says it works to protect the constitutional principle of separation of church and state.
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