NC GOP Commissioner: Non-Christian Prayers Forbidden At County Meetings

Lincoln County Board of Commissioners Chairman Carrol Mitchem. Image via Denver Weekly

Lincoln County Board of Commissioners Chairman Carrol Mitchem. Image via Denver Weekly

To hear people like North Carolina’s Lincoln County Board of Commissioners chairman Carrol Mitchem tell it, right-wing Christians are a persecuted class here in the United States. It’s as if they can’t come together to worship Jesus in a house of prayer without police there to protect their service from armed gunmen coming to attack them.

(Oh wait, that was notorious anti-Muslim bigot Pamela Geller and her convention of fellow idiots gathering to celebrate inflammatory rhetoric against the equally stupid idea that you cannot draw a picture of the Prophet Mohammed, because that’s hateful and disrespectful to a religion started by a guy who married a six-year-old girl.)

“Oh no, we’re persecuted by those liberals and godless atheists who want to cram their beliefs down our throats!” That’s the rhetoric of thousands of religious voters and their politicians who have done things like add “In God We Trust” to displays in city halls, which was just approved here in Lafayette, Louisiana. It’s silly, it’s petty, and it goes a long way politically when you’ve got a whole bunch of people convinced that there’s a war going on against your religion.

You know, if you want to put “In God We Trust” in your city council chambers, it really doesn’t bother me that much – and I’m an atheist. However, it’s still a violation of church and state – and then you have people like Carrol Mitchem who really just want their specific brand of religion to be endorsed, and nobody else’s.

If you want proof of this, just read the following story from Lincoln County, North Carolina and their Board of Commissioners which had a fit over the fact that a neighboring county was ordered to stop having prayers before their meetings.

In response to a question concerning Rowan County, which was recently ordered by a federal court judge to cease its pre-meeting prayers, Lincoln County Board of Commissioners chairman Carrol Mitchem said that not only will invocations remain in Lincoln County, but that he would see to it that no non-Christian prayers are delivered on his watch.

“A Muslim? He comes in here to say a prayer, I’m going to tell him to leave,” Mitchem said. “I have no use for (those) people. They don’t need to be here praying to Allah or whoever the hell they pray to. I’m not going to listen to (a) Muslim pray.”

In a ruling filed on Monday, Judge James A. Beaty ruled that Rowan County violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the Constitution. According to the court document, commissioners there started each meeting with phrases such as “let us pray” or “please pray with me” before delivering the prayer. Those prayers normally included references to “Jesus” and “The Savior.” (Source)

Religion has no place in government, and folks like Carrol Mitchem prove why.

It would be nice if people in government made decisions that benefited the poor, the elderly and the sick in the way that most religious teachings direct them to, but that’s not what’s going on here. Carrol Mitchem and others of his ilk are using their warped interpretation of Christianity and their political power to further hatred and exclusion of others, rather than promote the common good.

Conservative Christians aren’t being persecuted, they’re simply being forced to give up centuries of control over government, which they were using to force their beliefs on the rest of us. Besides, does it really make a difference if you can’t say a prayer specifically invoking your version of a god before having a county commission meeting? Is it really that big of a threat for someone who is Muslim or Wiccan or anything else to say their own prayer, especially if your god is supposed to be the most powerful one of all and the other religions are false?

You can send Carrol Mitchem an email by clicking here, and politely let him know that freedom of religion applies to all religions, not just his.


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