The county’s response: Bite me.

SALISBURY, NC — The Rowan County Commissioners open every meeting with a prayer. Vice-Chairman Carl Ford says it’s been that way since he can remember.

“I’m going to pray before the meetings and I’m going to pray in the name of Jesus because that’s my right,” said Ford.

In a letter to commissioners this week, the ACLU legal director writes, “These legislative prayers are explicitly sectarian and favor only one religion, Christianity.” It goes on to read, “…We have received more complaints about sectarian legislative prayer by the rowan county board of commissioners than any other local government in North Carolina…”

The letter comes after the U.S. Supreme Court chose to let a lower court’s ruling stand last month that bans sectarian prayer at meetings in Forsyth County.

Some residents say the ACLU is trying to block religious freedom.

“I think they should stand up for what they believe in and say we can pray if we want to, it’s not going to hurt anything. if you don’t like to pray, don’t pray,” said Tyle Kauffman, a Salisbury resident.

Ford says the board hasn’t received any complaints at their meetings and most board members stand with him to say they aren’t backing down.

By then, the they want new rules that do not include sectarian prayers in meetings. Some commisioners say that’s not going to happen.

“The ACLU doesn’t tell me how to pray and they can’t tell us as a board what to do. They didn’t elect us,” said Ford.