A county commission chairman who’d vowed not to listen to a Muslim prayer kept his word this week when he stalked out of a meeting before it could be opened with a Muslim invocation.
And commissioners responded by banning prayer from their meetings completely.
The incident occurred Monday in Lincoln County, North Carolina, when Commission Chairman Carrol Mitchem refused to sit still for a local Muslim’s prayer, which was part of a policy commissioners adopted in May after a neighboring county was sued because it had for years opened its commission meetings with only Christian prayers.
Before the new policy was enacted, Mitchem told the Lincoln Times-News he would “not listen to no Muslim pray.”
After Monday’s meeting, he told the paper, “I said that I would not listen to a Muslim pray, is that not what I’ve said?”
“And that’s what I’ve done tonight. I’ve done exactly what I said I was going to do. I’m not going to listen to them pray. So I’ve just done all of my commitment.”
Mitchem returned to the meeting after local Muslim Duston Barto’s invocation, which included reading the first chapter of the Quran, according to the Tines-News. He was in time for the Pledge of Allegiance.
Later in the meeting, commissioners voted 4-1 to replace the invocation with a moment of silence – to avoid any more religious confrontations.
Mitchem was the only vote against the new policy.
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