SHELBY, N.C — When the Foothills Interfaith Assembly (FIA) was created earlier this year, it was inspired by concerns over public prayer policy in its local region. However, this was never supposed to be an issue that the group focused on. Nevertheless, the assembly has played a public part in shaping a recent prayer policy debate, which has made clear that religious political tensions are alive and well in the foothills region of North Carolina. A strong sentiment against Islam is evident, and Pagan members of the assembly are equally concerned about discriminatory policies and behavior. The latest salvo came when the Cleveland County School Board replaced a moment of silence with public prayer at its meetings. North Carolina Piedmont Church of Wicca’s Tony Brown told The Wild Hunt that the school board was reacting to “a lot of pressure from Christian groups in the community to do so.