Stop praying in Jesus' name or get sued. That's the message from the Virginia chapter of a national civil liberties group to Pittsylvania County's Board of Supervisors.
For several decades the board has opened with a prayer. Thousands of people have sat in on the meetings, but this is the first time the board has received a complaint.
Board chairman Tim Barber, a mechanic outside Danville, received a letter from the American Civil Liberties Union, or ACLU, asking the board to stop. "I don't feel like we're in violation."
The ACLU gave the board two choices: stop ending the prayer in the name of Jesus Christ or prepare for a lawsuit.
"I polled the board last night, it was unanimous everybody on the board said we need to continue to do what we've done, so that's what we're doing," said Barber.
Directors of the ACLU claim the board violates the First Amendment. Their letter states the members can pray in private however they choose, but public meetings are not the place. Residents disagree.
"We are a country that was built on God. I mean one nation under God was on our money. I believe it still is, I think," said JoAnne Fahey, Chatham resident.
Barber says the board will take the letter into consideration but will not stop praying anytime soon. He says the backing from the community and divine intervention will prepare the board for whatever comes its way.