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Resident to Council: Stand for Prayer

Speaker urges county council to fight any attempts to change policy of beginning meetings with invocation.

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.”

Zoe Brown April 03, 2013 at 09:47 PM
According to the census there are a LOT of Christians in SC and the US, but not everybody. And apparently that "not everybody" counts in the eyes of the law. The law is the law, and grey as it is we have to abide by the arbitrary capriciousness of fallible men appointed to positions of malleable authority until such time as we have the patience to change the law, change our minds or change the channel. For me, I am sending off a check to whatever pack of wolf-lawyers have whooped-up on the Ffrfrf somewhere else w/a note written in crayon "pikins conty skoo legul defenc funs"! Why not? I mean, for a county so dedicated to fighting, no hating the idea of spending money on education (Mr Smith more than most), spending money on this idea is on fire! So, I want to be the first to actually throw some money away in this total waste of effort...that won't educate a single kid or bring one single job to our county! How much money do any of you think Mr Smith will put in the fund?
Zoe Brown April 03, 2013 at 10:06 PM
To be clear, I agree with the premise of Mr Smith's argument and can't abide the cowardice of our Board, but I don't see anyone in his line stacking up Twenties to back up their bravado! Particularly after witnessing so many years of their penny pinching criticisms of the local governments. If we are going to prioritize spending, then now is definitely the time. If we don't like the current vote, then take a look at both the Board members and the people that both put them there and are pushing the positives of their recent decision.
ed-words April 03, 2013 at 10:52 PM
The Bill of Rights doesn't concern itself with the census. There is legal precedence for a LONG time that public institutions cannot favor religion.
Easley Watchful Angel April 04, 2013 at 01:25 AM
The school Disrtrict wants to keep this issue of prayer in the news so that no one will pay attention to the fact Randy Gilstrap and his girlfriend (Denard) are going to walk. These two stole taxpayers money state and federal money that was to used for the students.. Gilstrip can get his teachers certificate back. The school board keeping quite about this. The Easley Patch is the only pickens county news that posted the news that Gilstrap and Denard asking the court for pretrial intervention. As taxpayers everyone should be in a uproar that they are going to get off. If you pay attention it's the same old wack people that show up at every school board meetings.Then they have to give a statement to the news. It's kinda strange that they're all Saitta surporters his mouth pieces.They just keep putting this prayer issue out there so the school board want be question about why they're not fighting to make sure Gilstrap and Denard sereve time. It must be nice to be so connected that you can commit a crime like this an get by with it and the local newspapers don't even cover it.Thank Greenville news Pickens County News for covering in the Feb. 27 2013 issue. The Pickens county school board if a laughing joke !!!

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