Reporter: James Gherardi l Videographer: R.J. Burnette
Chatham, VA - For more than 200 years, the Pittsylvania Board of Supervisors has used Jesus Christ in their invocations at the beginning of their meetings. But Monday, they got a letter from the Virginia ACLU asking them to say it no more.
The Chairman of the Board, Tim Barber, says their government has used Christianity in meetings for years and a letter from a group in Richmond isn't going to stop that.
"I don't see how you can separate the two. For instance, you know our money has 'In God we trust', the pledge says 'One nation under God', and I watched the presidential debate the other week and at the end of it, he said 'God bless America,' so how do they distinguish that a prayer is any different," said Barber.
The letter from the Virginia Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union asks them to just stop saying the prayer. Executive Director of the Virginia ACLU, Kent Willis said, "indeed, our nation was founded largely by Christians. But we are not a Christian nation. We are a nation that understands government must be neutral towards religion."
In their letter, the ACLU cites numerous court rulings throughout the country that specifically say, one religion should not be referenced during government meetings. They encourage the board to "eliminate the opening invocation from meetings."
But members of the board say no way. Hank Davis has served on the board for more than a decade.
"I would like for the ACLU to just drop it, keep their mouths shut and keep on trucking down another road," Davis said.
Board members aren't worried about a lawsuit. They say they decided unanimously at Monday night's meeting to ignore the letter and move forward with business as usual.
The board is comprised of Democrats, Republicans and Independents. The Chairman said their members even represent a wide variety of Christian Denominations.