Resident Junius Smith appreciated Monday's County Council meeting opening with an invocation.
“I was glad that I heard the prayer tonight because it was a darn good one, and I praise you for having the courage to go ahead and use the name of Jesus,” Smith told council.
A pastor, Smith was one of many county residents who urged school district officials to fight an attempt by the Freedom From Religion Foundation to force the school district to stop beginning it's board meetings with student-led prayer.
“I read them the Constitution,” Smith said. “'Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
The board has adopted a new policy of having a board member, not a student, open meetings with a non-sectarian prayer that does not acknowledge a particular deity or denomination.
Smith gave county council members information about a California case regarding opening meetings with sectarian prayers.
“They tried this very point, and in fact the Ninth Circuit had ruled in favor of the people saying the name Jesus,” Smith said.
The United States is a free country, he said.
“It has many religions,” Smith said. “It would not be wrong if a Muslim came to this meeting and prayed. It would not be wrong. But 80 to 90 percent of the people of Pickens County are Christians who follow Jesus. I just wanted to let you know that this is something that the people of Pickens County want.
“So if it comes up here and somebody gets stomped on for using the name Jesus, remember this: You can go into court and win it,” he continued. “I'm convinced of that. The school board is not convinced and they're going to battling us the whole time.”
Judges' decisions are not law, Smith said.
“Judges' decisions are rulings and precedents and things like that,” he said. “But judges' decisions change every time you turn around. For instance, slavery before 1865 was not illegal. It was ruled by the Supreme Court that it was legal. The way that was changed, it was changed by amendment. So in order to get this changed, somebody needs to come up with an amendment, not a judge's decision. Now there have been some cases where judges have ruled that you can't do it, but I'm telling you, they're wrong if they go by the Constitution.”