ACLU Sues Va. County Board Over Prayers

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The American Civil Liberties Union is suing the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors in Virginia for praying before the start of their meetings.

The ACLU claims the prayers make non-Christian residents feel unwelcome. They have asked the court to end what they feel is an unconstitutional endorsement of religion.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of an anonymous plaintiff who had contacted the ACLU about the supervisors' prayers.

Referred to as "Jane Doe" in legal documents, she is a Pittsylvania County citizen who regularly attends board of supervisors meetings, according the ACLU's news release.

Last month, the ACLU wrote a letter to the board of supervisors asking them to stop opening meetings with prayer that "explicitly refer to Jesus Christ."

However, the board did not comply with the request and even offered five more prayers the day they received the letter.

On Monday, Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors Chairman Tim Barber told the local newspaper that he is still not giving up his prayers at the meeting.

"We are going to fight it as hard as we can," Barber said. "We tried everything we could to show it was legal."

The board recently passed a resolution stating the prayers would no longer be on the agenda and would take place before the official meeting.

Barber said he consulted several attorneys and state officials before passing the resolution.

"They are just picking on the little guy," Barber told the newspaper, arguing that people pray at a lot of government meetings.

"They filed the lawsuit but they didn't even name a defendant… I don't think it's fair to the citizens. How do we know the ACLU isn't making up a name?" he asked.

Barber said that the board has been praying for years without any complaints and he will continue to fight for their "right to pray."

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