A divided Cleveland County School Board voted 8-2 Monday night to continue opening its meetings with a moment of silence, not prayers.
But the board said it will get policy and procedure recommendations from the superintendent and legal team in time for a meeting on Nov. 9. That could involve looking into what the board would have to do to have prayer at the meetings, multiple media outlets reported.
Members from the Cleveland County Christian Law Enforcement Association addressed the group about praying before every school board meeting.
It’s time for Christians to stand up.
Cleveland County Sheriff’s Capt. Joel Shores
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The conversation began when officers talked at one of their gatherings and found out every governmental entity in Cleveland County prays before its meeting except the school board.
“We think God should be in our lives,” Cleveland County Sheriff’s Capt. Joel Shores said. “And in everything we do. And we are seeing these progressives try to slowly remove everything that what we feel our forefathers fought for.”
Shores told WBTV he believed the moment of silence already observed is not good enough. “It’s time for Christians to stand up,” Shores said.
This issue is not new. It has been brought up before, but the school board has not taken the matter up before Monday. Cleveland County School Board Chair Phillip Glover said the board decided to do a moment of silence so lawsuits wouldn’t come their way.
“With all the budget issues that we have,” Glover said, “could you justify spending that kind of money to fight a fight that you probably won't win anyhow with the high courts?”
School board member Danny Blanton told WBTV he believed prayer should override lawsuits.
“If we get a lawsuit brought against us for having prayer and praying for our children and our schools, and our teachers – then bring that lawsuit on,” he said.
Cleveland County Sheriff Alan Norman was also backing prayer. He posted a letter about it to his Facebook page. He told WBTV he did not write the note.
The letter is from the Cleveland County Christian Law Enforcement Association. It reads, “If any Board needs to have God in their presence when making decisions it should be our school board.”
The American Civil Liberties Union also weighed in. In an email to WBTV, the ACLU stated: “Public school board meetings should be open and welcoming to students and residents of all beliefs. Cleveland County’s school board shouldn’t get into the divisive and legally problematic business of favoring one person’s religious views over others.
“Our office has been contacted by concerned county residents who rightfully believe that opening school board meetings with prayers could make students or residents of different beliefs feel unwelcome or pressured into participating in a religious activity with which they don't agree,” the email continued.
Shores told WBTV that local churches have told him they would help with legal assistance if needed.
The Associated Press contributed