Lack of prayer concerns Hester

Published 11:59 pm Friday, November 5, 2010

JACKSON — No prayer before a public meeting is frustrating to one member of the Northampton County Board of Commissioners.

On Monday, Commission Vice Chairman James Hester, who is also a Reverend, took issue with having no prayer before board meetings.

“This thing has bugged be ever since we voted for it,” he said.

Hester noted how the commissioners had just heard the county’s audit report and things looked like they’re not going to get any better.

“We’ve got a federal government that is borrowing 43 cents on every dollar that they spend and we have no jobs, we have no industry or anything that looks like is coming into our county and we celebrated it by stopping prayer in our meetings,” he said.  

He noted how at the same time judges are ruling that it’s okay for church groups to attend the funerals of military service members “that are being murdered overseas and say ‘God loves dead soldiers’ (and) ‘Pray to God for more dead soldiers’.”

“For some reason or another, we hear some judge, who we have no idea where he stands as far as (his or her) spiritual life is concerned, say to us that it is unconstitutional for us to pray,” Hester said. “Anybody can look at the financial situation in this county and the state of North Carolina with a $3.1 billion shortfall next year with the government behind already $13 trillion and say we don’t need prayer, somebody’s sick.”

He continued, “We can pledge allegiance to a flag, but we can’t say our allegiance to all mighty God…and that bugs me.”

Commission Chair Fannie Greene asked Northampton County Board Attorney Charles Vaughan if he had the chance to look into the matter.

“The County Manager (Wayne Jenkins) and I have had discussions about the rulings,” he said. “I’m not prepared to make a statement about it today, but I can (bring something) to you in writing if you would like?”

Greene asked if he could have something prepared by the next meeting.

Vaughan said he could.

“If in your research and your findings, also look and see that rather being audible with our prayer if we could have a moment of silence before we begin our meeting,” suggested Commissioner Robert Carter to Vaughan.

“I’m confident that is permissible,” said Vaughan.