CHARLESTON, W.Va. — At least six county commissions in West Virginia start their meetings with a prayer led by a commissioner, according to a survey by Attorney General Patrick Morrisey.
Jackson, Mineral, Pleasants, Ritchie and Tyler county commissioners say a prayer at meetings, while the Berkeley County Commission opens its meetings with a prayer by a clergy member or commissioner.
Morrisey included West Virginia’s survey results in a “friend of the court” legal brief filed in support of a county commission that wants to continue commissioner-led prayer at meetings.
In May, a federal judge ruled that the Rowan County Commission in North Carolina violated the U.S. Constitution because it opened meetings almost exclusively with Christian prayers delivered by commission members. At meetings, county commissioners directed audience members to stand and pray along with commissioners, according to the federal judge. The prayers included statements such as “there is only one way to salvation, and that is Jesus Christ,” and gave thanks for “Jesus, the savior,” the “resurrection,” “cross at Calvary” and “virgin birth.”
Morrisey wants the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn the judge’s ruling and allow the North Carolina county commission – and public boards in West Virginia – to continue their prayer practices.
“West Virginia and other states filed this brief because lawmakers have opened legislative sessions with prayer since the founding of our republic,” Morrisey said…