The US Supreme Court is back in session and has a few tough cases on the docket. One of those could have a big consequence for local government.
Separation of church and state has come before the Supreme Court in years past, but the latest case could declare prayer in city council meetings unconstitutional.
"We pray before our city council meetings in Clarksburg and we say the pledge of allegiance, which makes reference to a god," said Vice Mayor of the Clarksburg City Council, Gary Bowden. "I certainly think we have the right to do that."
The complaint comes from two women in a small town in upstate New York, who claim they "should not have to endure religious indoctrination" to be a part of town government. However that view is not shared locally.
Bowden said, "I don't think a couple of people who feel uncomfortable about that should dictate what the majority believes is the right thing to do.
The Supreme Court has ruled before that a government cannot endorse one particular religious view, but the Court often leans on the side of tradition, and many local residents think their councils should stick to their traditions.
"We would probably go ahead and do it anyway, you know, until they actually came in and stopped us," said Superintendent of the Burnsville Town Council, Harley Mace when asked what he would do if the Supreme Court declared the prayers unconstitutional.
"The Lord leads us through everything, and the prayer in the council meetings is wonderful," Mace said.
Marsha Bierystone said she agrees. "I certainly think there should be [prayer] if the people at that council meeting desire to have prayer," she said. "I think we have, in this country, a right to have prayer as much as people who don't want to participate in prayer."
Bowden said it was ironic that this is an issue at a time when the government seems so disorganized.
"We've got states that can't pay their bills and municipalities going bankrupt," he said. "In my mind, if there were ever a time when we needed to appeal to a divine authority for a little guidance and inspiration it's right now."
It is unclear how the Court will rule on this issue as the trial date is not even set yet, but it is clear that residents of North Central West Virginia are not going to let prayer be taken out of any aspect of their lives.