The County Commission started its meeting on Thursday with the first opening prayer by a clergyman from the new ministerial list and ended the meeting with a declared atheist being escorted from the room by a deputy.
Tony Walliser of Silverdale Baptist Church opened with prayer as the first to respond to the new list. The list was compiled under a new policy enacted after the commission was sued in Federal Court for the public prayers.
Letters to the clergy were sent out on Friday.
Those to pray before the commission are to be selected on a "first come first serve" basis.
Mark McCrory of First Lutheran Church is set for Aug. 1 and Gary Armes of Hickory Valley Christian on Aug. 9. J. Paul Massey of Mountain Church of God will be Aug. 15.
There is a gap until Kevin Adams of Olivet Baptist is set for the prayer on Oct. 1 and Chris Tregaskis of the Unitarian Universalist Church on Oct. 17.
Chris Hixson of the commission office said three more ministers accepted the call today.
At the close of the meeting, Tommy Coleman, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, again blasted the commissioners and the new policy.
Aaron Moyer said, as an athiest, the commission is not representing his interests.
He said the commission is getting further entangled in religion by allowing a group of Christian attorneys to represent the county in court.
He read a long statement that he said he had found by Chris Brooks of Chattanooga Organized for Action. In the statement, Mr. Brooks said he is a Christian, but he also lambasted the commission policy.
Chairman Larry Henry told Mr. Moyer his time was up and that little time was left for two pro-prayer speakers, but he continued to read. The deputy then showed him the door. Mr. Coleman departed at the same time. He said he was also directed to leave, though he said he "had done nothing."
Attorney Robin Flores, who filed the suit, on Thursday amended it. He asked for $100,000 in damages related to the removal of Mr. Coleman from the commission room.
June Griffin, an ardent Bible and 10 Commandments supporter, told the commission that she has filed an intervening action in Federal Court.
Charley Wysong said the courts have ruled against groups like those led by the previous speakers.
Attorney Flores filed a response to the Griffin intervention, calling it "nonsensical." He told her that if she does not strike the motion that he will seek damages against her.
A statement on the commission agenda now reads:
"Any invocation that may be offered before the official start of the Commission meeting shall be the voluntary offering of a private citizen, to and for the benefit of the Commission. The views or beliefs expressed by the invocation speaker have not been previously reviewed or approved by the Commission and do not necessarily represent the religious beliefs or views of the Commission in part or as a whole. No member of the community is required to attend or participate in the invocation and such decision will have no impact on their right to actively participate in the business of the Commission."