5/13/2015 3:32:00 PM Mitchem Supporters Call For Rally
Carroll Mitchem County Commission Chairman
(Lincoln Herald File Photo)
Wayne Howard Staff Writer
The battle lines are drawn and while it appears that County Commission Chairman Carrol Mitchem won't be able to restrict prayers at County Commission meetings to Christians, it also appears that his stand on the matter has solidified his support among conservatives who have felt their views were being trampled on by liberal courts.
Mitchem's comments were first published in a local newspaper after their reporter asked about prayers before Commission meetings in the wake of a court decision against similar prayers at the Rowan County Commission meetings. Mitchem said he wouldn't stand for prayers by non-Christians, in particular mentioning Muslims as a group he wouldn't allow to pray at the meetings.
The story was picked up by other newspapers and Charlotte TV stations and has been talked about nationwide on social media. One group has threatened a lawsuit; another (the one that caused Dallas to move its Nativity Scene last Christmas) is watching developments.
Meanwhile, Mitchem is getting as much or more praise from the Fundamentalist Christian community as he is receiving negative comments from those who disagree with his statements.
"I could have said it better," he told the Lincoln Herald. "I probably shouldn't have said I wouldn't allow it--it's not totally up to me. But I can tell you this, if a Moslem does pray at a Commission meeting, I'll walk out. There's no law that says I can't walk out of the meeting and return after that's (the prayer) over." Mitchem confirmed that a prayer policy will be discussed at the meeting of the Commission on Monday night (May 18th) (6:30 PM at the James W. Warren Citizens Center).
Charlotte TV stations, three of whom have already made trips to Lincolnton to cover the story, are expected to be there. Now, some of those who support Mitchem's position say they're hoping a large crowd of supporters will show up for a 6 PM demonstration of support on the porch in front of the Citizens Center.
"People complain all the time about the courts taking prayer and the Bible out of school," one of those planning for the demonstration told us. "They say they're appalled by decisions like the one over the Rowan County prayers, yet they do nothing. Carrol has stood up and said what a lot of us have been thinking. It's time for people to stand up and be counted--or counted among the missing." Another said he sees Monday night's demonstration as a "Stand Up For Jesus" rally.
Others fear that the publicity surrounding Mitchem's comments may lead to further action not related to the prayers. Lincoln County has allowed a Nativity Scene on the Courtsquare for years. The additional attention may bring further action from those who want to remove any and all religious symbols from public displays.
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