- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 13, 2015

SHELBY, N.C. (AP) - The Cleveland County Board of Education has voted to have the superintendent’s office look into what the board would have to do to have prayer at its meetings.

Board members voted Monday to begin the process of implementing prayer into meetings, media outlets reported. The board already opens its meetings with a moment of silence. During Monday’s meeting, those in the audience recited the Lord’s Prayer during the moment of silence.

The board asked for the report on prayer at its meeting for November’s meeting.

Cleveland County school board Chair Phillip Glover told WBTV (https://bit.ly/1Mp2KMt ) that board members decided to do the moment of silence so lawsuits wouldn’t come their way.

“With all the budget issues that we have,” Glover said, “could you justify spending that kind of money to fight a fight that you probably won’t win anyhow with the high courts.”

Board member Danny Blanton said he believed prayer should override lawsuits.

“If we get a lawsuit brought against us,” Blanton said, “for having prayer and praying for our children and our schools, and our teachers - then bring that lawsuit on.”

Whether prayer is eventually allowed at the meetings or not, board member Donnie Thurman Jr. said that will not change his action.

“There has never been a board meeting where I didn’t pray. I have always prayed,” Thurman said.

Members of the public also spoke during the meeting as well. Several spoke in favor of public prayer, including Rodney Fitch of the Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office and the Cleveland County Christian Law Enforcement Association.

“A society that has allowed prayer to be removed from public places cannot produce good leaders,” Fitch said.

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