Under the Dome

N.C. House lawmaker links Islamic prayer to terrorism

A N.C. House lawmaker is equating any prayer to the Islamic God with terrorism.

In an email exchange with a constituent, Republican state Rep. Michele Presnell was asked if she was comfortable with a prayer to Allah before a legislative meeting. Presnell responded: "No, I do not condone terrorism."

The first-year lawmaker from a western North Carolina mountains district is a co-sponsor of House resolution 494, a measure asserting that North Carolina can establish a state religion. She did not return a call for comment Monday about the string of emails obtained by Dome.

"The famed ACLU is telling Rowan County they may not pray before commissioners meetings," Presnell wrote to Britt Kaufmann, a constituent. "We pray in Raleigh before our legislative meetings, U.S. Congress prays in Washington DC, why can they not pray?"

Kaufmann replied: "Yes, I do understand that the ACLU is suing Rowan County and I think they have clearly articulated why they are not comfortable with prayer before the commissioners meetings.  I wanted you, as my representative, to know that I do not think the proposed bill is a good solution to that problem -- I think it would cause additional problems.  Would you be comfortable with a public prayer to Allah before a legislative meeting in Raleigh?"

The email exchange ends with Presnell telling her constituent: "No, you are wrong. Have a good day."

Presnell equated Islam to terrorism and added "we just need to start taking a stand on our religious freedom or it will be whisked away from us." Her stance appears to differ from the primary sponsors of the bill, Rep. Harry Warren, a Salisbury Republican, who later apologized for the resolution's poor wording and how it embarrassed the state.

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