FAIRMONT, W.Va. – Some Marion County residents voiced their concerns at Wednesday’s county commission meeting over what they believe is religious suppression.
Organizers of the Marion County National Day of Prayer event spoke at the meeting about the future of where they can host it.
In the past, the event was held on the courthouse steps. Organizers said this year they wanted to move the event away from that location, so they do not have the problem of cars, trucks and other noises disrupting the event.
When organizers requested to move the prayer event to Palatine Park, they said Marion County Commission denied them usage of the amphitheater. However, commission did allow them to use of the rest of the park.
“We had it at Palatine Park, just not at the Amphitheater,” Randy Elliot, Marion County Commissioner, said during the meeting. “We’ve always been associated with National Day of Prayer, and it’s a great thing. I’m a religious person. I think it’s the right thing to do, and I’ve always supported the National Day of Prayer. But, again, the park is closed on May 6, and it always has been. The park doesn’t open until the end of May. If we make an exception of this event at the amphitheater, we’ll have to do the same thing for others, and we really don’t want to do that. There are plenty of other places that can facilitate this event and are open the first day of May.”
This year’s event was held at the overlook portion of Palatine Park, with more than 200 people in attendance, but organizers said they want commission to make an exception for the event in the future and grant them access to the amphitheater.
“Well, I think that everybody that spoke was positive,” Kandice Nuzum, member of the Faith Church International said. “I’m not sure about the county commission, as to whether they will make an exception like they have for other things. But, I do believe it’s an important exception, the fact that it is national, and it’s been going on for 70 years in America.”
Elliot said at the end of the meeting that commission will further consider the use of the amphitheater during the event.