Members of the Freedom From Prayer Foundation are pressuring commission members to drop their prayers in favor of a moment of silence. During the June 5 meeting they were told by two attendees that the county commission will face a lawsuit if they do not comply.
During that meeting county attorney Rheuben Taylor opened with prayer and concluded with the words "... in Jesus' name." Many believe that the foundation is more concerned with this phrase than they are with the prayer itself.
When asked if this action would preclude the Ringgold City Council from beginning its sessions with prayer, mayor Joe Barger said, "I do not know at this time. I haven't spoken to any of the other council members about this issue and, personally, I do not have an opinion at this time."
He continued, "At least three or four times I have had a moment of silent prayer. At our last session I asked for a silent prayer in memory of our deceased vets because I felt it was appropriate.
"I don't do this because of the pressure from political or outside organizations, definitely not. I will at times continue to have silent prayers as is appropriate."
When asked if this action would make the Fort Oglethorpe City Council take a look at opening its sessions with prayer, council member Johnny "Red" Smith replied, "No — a big no. As God's servant, which I am, it doesn't bother me at all.
"I have absolutely no problem with prayer," he continued. "I do it every day.
According to Fort Oglethorpe mayor Lynn Long, "We're a Christian nation and hopefully we will remain a Christian nation. We will continue to pray until the courts tell us otherwise."