In Wake of Supreme Court Prayer Ruling, Virginia Official Urges Banning of Non-Christian Prayers at County Meetings

Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Al Bedrosian (photo: Roanoke County, VA)

Less than a week after the U.S. Supreme Court approved prayer at local government meetings, a Virginia official announced he wants to bar all non-Christian invocations at board meetings.


Al Bedrosian, a member of the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors, said he wants to change a 2012 rule that permits anyone to offer a non-sectarian prayer prior to meetings. Bedrosian wants only Christians to offer prayers.


“The freedom of religion doesn’t mean that every religion has to be heard,” he said, according to the Roanoke Times. “If we allow everything, where do you draw the line?”


“I think America, pretty much from Founding Fathers on, I think we have to say more or less that we’re a Christian nation with Christian ideology,” Bedrosian added. “If we’re a Christian nation, then I would say that we need to move toward our Christian heritage.”

He also said that denying non-Christians the right to offer prayers “does not infringe on their freedom of religion. The truth is you’re trying to infringe on my right, because I don’t believe that.”


Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the plaintiffs in last week’s Supreme Court decision on public prayer (Town of Greece v. Galloway), has warned Roanoke County’s legal counsel that if Bedrosian gets his way and non-Christian prayer is prohibited, a lawsuit will likely follow.


“Although upholding the challenged prayer policy, the Court also made clear that the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause prohibits legislative bodies from excluding non-Christian prayer givers or otherwise discriminating in selection,” the group said in its letter to county attorney Paul Mahoney.


Bedrosian’s plan for revoking the existing policy is not supported by all the other board members.


“It ain’t going to happen,” Supervisor Jason Peters told the media. “There’s no reason for this to be brought up and reoccur. I hate it for the county.”


 Board chairman Joe McNamara agreed with Peters. “I think the policy that Roanoke County has in place currently, I think it’s fair,” McNamara said. “I think it respects all religions, and I think it’s appropriate for us to follow the policy in place going forward.”


Other statements by Bedrosian include:

·         “The real battle is keeping the name of Jesus as Lord. The name Jesus is what makes us a Christian people and a Christian nation. This is why we must continue our heritage as a Christian nation and remove all other gods.”

·         “When reading the writings of our Founding Founders, there was never any reference to freedom of religion referring to a choice between Islam, Hindu, Satanism, Wicca and whatever other religions or cults you would like to dream up. It was very clear that freedom to worship meant the freedom to worship the God of the Bible in the way you wanted, and not to have a government church denomination dictate how you would worship.”

·         “Once we remove ourselves from worshiping the one true God, all the wonderful qualities of America will vanish.”

·         “The global warming crowd worships the environment as god, the abortionist has the death of unborn babies as their god, and the homosexuals have sexual freedom as their god.”


On Monday, Bedrosian said under his proposal, other supervisors could ask anyone they wanted to offer prayers. Then, during a board of supervisors meeting Tuesday, Bedrosian declined to stand while a prayer was offered by a member of the India Heritage Society. The other board members present did stand.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Virginia Official: Non-Christian Public Prayer Violates My Rights ‘Because I Don’t Believe That’ (by Travis Gettys, Raw Story)

Roanoke County Supervisor Reiterates That Non-Christians Will Be Banned from Delivering Invocations (by Hemant Mehta, Patheos)

Roanoke County Supervisor: After Yesterday’s Supreme Court Ruling, We’re Only Allowing Christian Invocation Prayers (by Hemant Mehta, Patheos)

Roanoke County Supervisor Ready to Strike Prayer Policy after Supreme Court Ruling (by Zach Crizer and Chase Purdy, Roanoke Times)

Group Warns about Legal Risks of Bedrosian-Proposed Prayer Policy (by Chase Purdy, Roanoke Times)

A Supreme Court Justice’s Dream for the U.S.: A Nation in Which States Can Establish Their Own Religion (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

U.S. Supreme Court Allows Sectarian Prayers at Government Meetings (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Danny Biederman, AllGov)

Christian Prayers at City Council Meetings Supported by Obama Administration before Supreme Court (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


Scottdad 7 years ago
I suspect this is going to be a burgeoning movement in localities all across the country. The Supreme Court erred in their Greece decision in my view since it left open recourse such as this. So it looks as if they are going to be forced to revisit this issue. And - like gay marriage bans - they will be forced to correct their decision.

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