Marion County Commission prayers criticized for saying Jesus

Marion County Commission prayers criticized for saying Jesus

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MARION COUNTY, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35 ORLANDO) -

An organization out of Washington D.C. is threatening to sue the Marion County Commission, for using the name Jesus in their opening prayer before the meetings. They say two people made anonymous complaints. The County Attorney disagrees with the complaint and says Commissioners will continue praying the way they have been. 

In Marion County, before hearing from residents, commissioners first address the Lord, "We pray that you give us wisdom and guidance in Jesus name." Marion County Resident Ron White says, "It doesn't bother me. I just expect it."  

But commissioners got an unexpected letter, complaining about the use of the word Jesus in their prayers from a group called Americans United.  It's an organization out of Washington, D.C. trying to preserve the separation of church and state. We talked to Alex Luchenitser, an associate legal advisor, "The commission is sending a cleat message they prefer one religion over any another, a clear violation of the separation of church and state of the US Constitution. Legal action is under serious consideration at this time." 

"I'm not surprised it's happening all over." Ocala resident James West says, it bothers him to see people complain about this, "I'm not a religious person. I just get irritated when these people want to take God away from everything." 

The Marion County Attorney Guy Minton says there's no policy regarding prayer at meetings and that it's up to individual commissioner to decide. Minton plans to send Americans United this letter saying, they disagree with the complaint.

He says the Board's invocation is inconsistent with conditions placed on prayer by the Supreme Court, "The Marion County Commission does not have a prescribed prayer it's up to the individual on how they word their prayer on each occasion." 

Commissioners plan to continue praying the way they have been, saying they're not trying to sway anyone into Christianity. Meanwhile the residents we spoke with, praise the politicians for fighting this. West says, "I'm proud of my commissioners for doing what they're doing." White agrees, "I think it's awesome, they gotta have guts. Do it, do it."

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