- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 4, 2015

LINCOLNTON, N.C. (AP) - Lincoln County commissioners have voted to end religious invocations prior to the start of its meetings after the chairman walked out during a Muslim prayer.

Local media outlets report commission chairman Carrol Mitchem left Monday’s meeting after the leader of an interfaith group began his prayer. After the prayer, the commissioners took their action, replacing prayers with a moment of silence.

Commissioner Cecelia Martin first suggested the moment of silence in May, but the motion was defeated. A prayer policy was adopted that allowed any local religious leader or representative of that denomination to deliver an invocation.

In May, U.S. District Judge James Beaty ruled that the Rowan County commissioners violated the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, which bans government endorsement of a single religion. The county is appealing the ruling.

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