Prayer vigil held in county courtyard
by Larry Chowning
A citizen prayer vigil was held outside the historic Middlesex County Courthouse on the courtyard in Saluda Tuesday in response to last month’s decision by the chairman of the Middlesex County Board of Supervisors to stop the practice of saying a prayer at the start of board meetings.
Middlesex County Attorney Mike Soberick advised board chairman Carlton Revere to make the decision for legal reasons. Instead, the board is now having a “moment of silence” for military personnel who are currently fighting for our country.
Soberick advised the board to eliminate the opening prayer from the meetings until the U.S. Supreme Court renders a decision on whether a public governmental body, such as a county board of supervisors, can say a prayer as part of its meeting’s agenda.
The Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors was recently sued for saying a prayer to open meetings, and a judge ruled the county must pay $59,000 to the plaintiff. That suit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Barbara Hudson. Pittsylvania County attorneys have asked the Fourth U.S. Supreme Court of Appeals to stay the ruling until the U. S. Supreme Court decides a similar case involving the town of Greece, New York.
The decision to stop saying a prayer at Middlesex supervisor meetings has led to considerable public outcry.
During Tuesday’s board meeting, there was considerable public comment on the issue, which will be covered in detail in next week’s Sentinel.