Saturday, March 05, 2011

ACLU Sues VT Town over Prayer

Alleging a violation of Vermont's Constitution and the state's Public Accommodations Act, the Vermont branch of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed suit against the Town of Franklin and moderator Tim Magnant for repeatedly opening Franklin's town meeting with a Christian prayer.

-- From "ACLU Sues Franklin Over Town Meeting Prayer" by The Associated Press 3/3/11

The Vermont chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has sued the town of Franklin on behalf of resident Marilyn Hackett.

The lawsuit says starting the meeting with a prayer has been done for about ten years. The ACLU argues that praying at the start of the public meeting violates Vermont's constitution and the state ‘public accommodations act'.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Franklin prays, ACLU sues" by Michelle Monroe, St. Albans Messenger 3/3/11

For several years, the Franklin resident has objected to prayer at the Franklin Town Meeting, finally telling the selectboard last year that if prayer continued she might file suit.

In their suit, attorneys for Hackett cite Article 3 of Vermont's Constitution, which states: “No person ought to, or of right can be compelled to attend any religious worship… contrary to the dictates of conscience, nor can any person be justly deprived or abridged of any civil right as a citizen, on account of religious sentiments… and that no authority can, or ought to be vested in, or assumed by, any power whatever, that shall in any case interfere with, or in any manner control the rights of conscience, in the free exercise of religious worship.”

Franklin still conducts a traditional annual town meeting, with all issues including the budget and election of officers decided from the floor.

Last year, then Secretary of State Deb Markowitz told the Messenger she advised towns against opening town meeting with a prayer and to use a non-denominational invocation because doing otherwise put them at risk of a lawsuit.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.