ACLU calls for Chesterfield to revise prayer policy - NBC12 - Richmond, VA News

ACLU calls for Chesterfield to revise prayer policy

Posted: Updated:
CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) -

Praying before Chesterfield County meetings is under scrutiny again. The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia along with the Americans United for Separation of Church and State says the current policy of only allowing certain religious leaders to pray is discriminatory, and it wants change.

The ACLU and its partners want all faiths to be included and for the board to revise its policy. 

"We hope that they will realize that discrimination on the basis of religion is not something they can continue doing and that they will revise their policy," said Rebecca Glenberg, the ACLU VA legal director.

Right now only "ordained religious leaders of monotheistic religions" can lead a prayer before each meeting. Recently the U.S. Supreme Court upheld prayers at town meetings in Greece, New York. The ACLU says that town doesn't discriminate and Chesterfield should follow that example.

Glenburg says there is an invitation list. 

"That list includes many Christian churches, it includes two synagogues and it includes the Islamic Center of VA, but it doesn't include the local Sikh congregation, for example, or the local Hindu congregation," she said.

Reverend Pete Hypes with Bermuda Baptist Church says he prefers prayers to be led by religious leaders of a monotheistic faith.

But, "As a Christian pastor I cannot be afraid of other faiths wanting to come and share their faith, if I seek to share mine," he said.

Chesterfield County released this statement when NBC12 asked about the ACLU's concerns.

"Chesterfield County has followed the ruling of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in the Simpson v. Chesterfield County case to conduct invocations at Board of Supervisors' meetings.  We will similarly follow the requirements of the new Supreme Court decision in the Town of Greece case as we go forward."

The ACLU suggests a moment of silence before each meeting.

Copyright 2014 WWBT NBC12.  All rights reserved.

Powered by WorldNow