STAND FIGHTING FOR THE FIRST AMENDMENT IN ROANOKE, VA
Recently the Wisconsin group, Freedom From Religion Foundation, sent a letter to the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors threatening a lawsuit over the practice of allowing prayer before meetings. FFRF has sent similar letters to municipalities all over the country in a effort to scare them into removing prayer, God, the ten commandments and religion in general. Giles County, also in SW Virginia, has been dealing with a FFRF lawsuit over the posting of the ten commandments in their High School.
Today, the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors planned to vote on a new rule designed to please the FFRF and prevent the threat of a lawsuit from becoming a reality. The rule would have prevented ministers delivering the pre-meeting invocation from mentioning the Bible, Jesus or anything else that might be specific to a particular religion.
We at STAND know this to be a violation of the first amendment and were on hand to speak in opposition to it. I am excited to be able to announce we won the day! After realizing we all knew their proposed rule was a violation of the first amendment, they did not vote to approve it. Here is the statement from Bishop Jackson I delivered on behalf of STAND:
It is a sad fact of modern American culture that our First amendment freedoms are so misunderstood that they are honored more in the breech than in the exercise. Groups such as the Foundation For freedom from Religion, the ACLU and a host of others have made it a cause célèbre to go about the country like politburo officials, seeking to halt any expression of faith, particularly Christian faith which remains predominant in our country. STAND – Staying True to America’s National Destiny – is an organization dedicated to protecting and defending our First Amendment freedom. What our Virginia forefather Thomas Jefferson – clearly the intellectual force behind our First Amendment – had in mind was freedom of religion not freedom from religion.
Asking a Christian minister not to mention the name of Jesus in public prayer because it might offend should be as abhorrent as requiring a Jewish Rabbi person to pray in the name of Jesus because to not do so might offend Christians. For the Board of Supervisors or any other governmental body to allow prayer to open its proceedings is not an endorsement of a particular religion or denomination. More to the point, it is certainly not Congress making a law respecting the establishment of religion, which is all the Constitution prohibits. Congress itself, specifically mentioned in the Constitution, has a Congressional Prayer Caucus. That is clearly not unconstitutional. How can it possibly be a violation for a County Board of Supervisors to allow prayer?
We urge you not allow yourselves and your county to be intimidated by extremist bullies who use the legal system to twist our Constitution and force the transformation of our culture from Judeo-Christian to secular. IT IS TIME TO TAKE STAND.
For God and Country
Bishop E. W. Jackson Sr