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Sectarian prayer at its twice-monthly meetings was once again before the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors Tuesday. And for fans of irony, it was a really great show.
For one thing, the supervisors felt compelled to have their discussions about public prayer in a private session — with an attorney from Liberty University’s Liberty Counsel.
For another, public comments preceding that meeting featured an atheist quoting Jesus. And she made more sense than anyone else in the room.
At least three members of the five-member board — Chairman Richard Flora, R-Hollins; Supervisor Mike Altizer, R-Vinton; and Supervisor Charlotte Moore, I-Clearbrook — would like to avoid a long, drawn-out and potentially expensive lawsuit.
That’s been threatened by some atheists who want the board to halt a practice of opening supervisors’ meetings with sectarian prayer . Previously, that majority seemed willing to change the board’s policy to allow strictly nonsectarian prayer, which would avoid a legal fight.
But two supervisors —- Butch Church, I-Catawba and Ed Elswick, I-Windsor Hills — want to keep some form of sectarian prayer. It was Church who engineered Tuesday’s meeting with Liberty Counsel.
After the executive session, Flora seemed optimistic that by the end of the year, Liberty Counsel could help supervisors craft a prayer policy that’s both constitutional and satisfies each side in the debate.
Maybe he’s correct about that. But Liberty Counsel’s recent record track record in the area of religion and public policy isn’t a stellar one.
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