Religious libertyIf you had any doubts about how ridiculous it is for government officials to be commencing public events with religious prayers, check out the squabble between two members of the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners as explained in this morning’s Charlotte Observer.

As reporters Tim Funk and David Perlmutt explain, the dispute apparently developed as the result of the Board of Commissioners’ policy of rotating the responsibility for opening meetings with prayer between members. One member, though herself a church goer, did not want to to lead prayers.  This, in turn, led another member to take offense and conclude that the other member was not pulling her weight. The dispute spiraled from there into an embarrassing spat that featured name-calling and all sorts of troubling statements about religion.

The Mecklenburg mess, of course, comes right on the heels of the recent debacle in Lincoln County in which a commissioner said the following about the possibility of his board opening its meetings with anything other than a Christian prayer:

“Other religions, or whatever, are in the minority. The U.S. was founded on Christianity. I don’t believe we need to be bowing to the minorities. The U.S. and the Constitution were founded on Christianity. This is what the majority of people believe in, and it’s what I’m standing up for.”

This kind of nonsense shows precisely why it is impossible for government to get involved in promoting prayer and religion in a useful way. For prayer to have any real meaning, it can’t just be comprised of sanitized and generic platitudes. But once one goes down the road of making it meaningful and specific, it inevitably excludes large swaths of the population with whose views and beliefs it does not comport.

That’s why the best solution (as the American Founding Fathers figured out almost 230 years ago) is to leave prayer to individuals and private institutions and keep public events and institutions religion-free. It’s better for government and better for religion.


The Mecklenburg County GOP chairperson dismissed a party volunteer Sunday who tweeted a racially-charged comment about the state NAACP director under the political party’s account.

The tweet at 8:48 p.m. Sunday under the political party’s @meckgop account included a picture of the Rev. William Barber II, and said, “The Grand Wizard of the #MoralMondaysMorons #NCGOP #TeamPushBack.”


Screen grab of Sunday’s tweet from @meckgop account

The grand wizard reference is to a white supremacist leader in the Ku Klux Klan.

Mecklenburg is the state’s most populous county, and prominent Republican state leaders Gov. Pat McCrory and N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis call it home.

Barber, the head of the state NAACP, has been the key figure organizing the weekly Monday protests during last year’s legislative session as well as this Saturday’s Mass Moral March which brought an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 to downtown Raleigh.

Brad Overcash, the chairman of the Mecklenburg Republican Party, said he found out about the @meckgop tweet Sunday night. He said he called the IT volunteer who had put it up and demanded an immediate resignation, as well as deletion of the tweet.

“I denounce the tweet,” Overcash told N.C. Policy Watch. “It was disgusting, wholly inappropriate and I’ve taken as quick and as swift an action as possible.”

Overcash declined to identify the volunteer, and said only a few people would have access to the party’s social media accounts in the future.

“This was not the position of the GOP in Meck,” Overcash said.

Below is a video postcard of Saturday’s march in Raleigh:

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