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National equality group urges Roanoke County Board of Supervisors to end prayer

June 26, 2012|Justin Ward | WDBJ7 Reporter

Roanoke, Va. — Stop praying in the name of Jesus or prepare for a lawsuit. That's the warning more and more local governments in our region are getting.

This time a national equality group is targeting the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors.

The Roanoke County Board of Supervisors received a letter from the Freedom from Religion Foundation based in Wisconsin last month.

It told the board prayer at a government meeting is quote  "unnecessary, inappropriate and divisive."

Tuesday afternoon the board went along with its plans.

"The request didn't come out of Roanoke County, it didn't come out of Virginia, it came from somebody in Madison, Wisconsin. That bothers me I'm sorry," said Supervisor Joseph Church.

Tuesday afternoon the board held its first meeting since the request.

But instead of protesters or signs, the board conducted normal business.

Lawyers with the Freedom from Religion Foundation say the complaint was made by a person who regularly attended the meetings.

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That person remains anonymous.

"Yet they don't want to come forward. I think, whether it be case law or whatever, it is my opinion that our citizens need to decide this," Church said.

The board says the prayer is a chance to share local ministries. That generosity is a cue for a lawsuit according to the foundation.

"If any of them come in and say a prayer that I don't believe in I'm not going to halt them and throw them out. I'm going to do what I expect everyone else to do. Respect individual religious freedom," Church said.

The foundation is the same group that asked the Giles County School Board to remove the 10 Commandments.

A similar request to end prayer was asked of the Franklin County Supervisors in April by an individual.

Supervisor Joseph Church says the board's lawyer has contacted the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors for legal advice while its lawsuit is pending.

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