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Stotts pushes prayer, pledge for meetings
Joseph Stotts headshot.jpg

Invocation and recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance could be making its way into the lesser aspects of Warren County government.

Members of the county’s Legislative Committee met to continue revising rules regulating the procedures of how business should be conducted. Commissioner Joseph Stotts suggested adding prayer and Pledge of Allegiance to the agenda of committee meetings – to be conducted at the discretion of each chairperson.  

“When we meet as a collective body, whether it’s the whole commission or a committee, we should maintain decorum as we do in the legislative body,” said Stotts. “Also when we meet as a committee, the chairman of said committee, if he or she sees fit, can have prayer and pledge of allegiance for that committee. They should be able to do so, if they so choose.” 

Commissioner Carlene Brown said the Warren County Legislative Body’s agenda is outlined to be more structured, while committee agendas are allowed a bit more flexibility. 

Commissioner Carl D. Bouldin agreed, “I think a chairman is at liberty to run the meeting anyway he or she sees fit. If they want to say prayer, they can.” 

“If so, we need to add it,” said Commissioner Daniel Owens. 

Bouldin stated, “Do you think so? I would think that the chairman could, if he wanted to do that, but I don’t think it has to be as formal as the full court meeting.” 

“I agree that committee meetings don’t have to be as formal as commission meetings, but I think it would be a good idea to include it in the policy,” said Stotts.

The current policy does allow committee members to request items be added to the agenda which allows the possibility of prayer and recitation of the pledge. 

“The standing committee agendas will be confirmed by the committee chairperson. Any committee members can notify the committee chairperson and request an agenda item be added or to schedule an agenda item.” 

Brown stated, “If you had walked in here tonight and asked ‘Carlene can we start with a prayer’ I would have said yes and we would have.”

“I don’t think there’s a need to include it,” said Bouldin. “If a chairperson wants to do it, I’m all for it. I just don’t think it’s something we have to add to this.” 

Stotts questioned, “What if someone objects.”

“They could step outside and come back in after it’s over with,” said Bouldin. “That’s the way I look at it. If you are a visitor and you don’t like to hear a prayer, step outside. When we’re done, we’ll let you know.” 

Stotts urged members to include something in the written policy that allows prayer and the pledge during committee meetings. 

Legislative Committee members agreed to add a statement in the written policy that allowed each committee chairperson the option of using the more formal agenda of the commission which includes invocation and pledge, rather than the informal committee agenda which does not.