Walhalla, SC

AU received a complaint that the Oconoee County Council regularly opens its meetings with Christian prayer. Despite complaints from local citizens, and against the advice of the County’s attorney, the Council refused to change this practice. One Council member — a reverend who often delivers the sectarian prayers — declared that he hoped objectors would bring a legal challenge to the prayers. AU wrote a letter to the County Council, explaining that the U.S. Supreme Court and the Fourth Circuit have clearly ruled that such sectarian prayers run afoul of the Establishment Clause, and warning that the Council member may get his wish for a legal challenge if the Council refused to end the practice. On February 7, 2007, the County Council voted to rescind its prayer policy and to begin meetings with a moment of silence instead.