SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - A moment of silence will take the place of the prayer that has been traditionally offered at meetings of the Salisbury City Council.
On Tuesday night the council voted to replace the prayer with the moment of silence following a motion by councilman David Post and a second by new council member Tamara Sheffield.
Mayor Al Heggins, who raised the issue initially, cast the third vote in favor of the motion with councilman Brian Miller and councilwoman Alexander voting against the motion.
"This is in the effort to keep this public space as welcoming and as inclusive as possible," said Mayor Heggins. "We also have many Muslims. We have Hindus. We have some people who don't practice a religion at all. And since this is a public space, I'm hoping that we will make this a space that's welcoming to all religious practitioners and nonreligious practitioners."
The prayer was given at the beginning of each meeting and was usually offered by councilman Miller. Pastor Glenwood Oats of Cornerstone Church gave the prayer at the December 5 meeting.
Councils in the neighboring cities of Kannapolis and Concord also begin meetings with a moment of silence.
The city council had avoided the controversy that Rowan County Commissioners have faced since the ACLU of North Carolina filed a lawsuit several years ago on behalf of three residents who said they were offended by the prayers that were predominantly offered in the name of Jesus.
That case is currently on appeal to the United States Supreme Court.