Saturday, June 02, 2012

Prayer Ruled Unconstitutional by Vermont Judge

With the ruling from Vermont Superior Court Judge Martin Maley, saying that prayer at the Franklin Town Meeting violates the state constitution, other small God-fearing towns' right to pray is equally in peril, absent the Vermont Supreme Court.

For background, read ACLU Unable to Stop Prayer in Vermont, For Now and also read Prayer in America: Hidden Faith, or Public?

-- From "Court Rules Against Prayer At Franklin Town Meeting" posted at Vermont Public Radio 6/1/12

Marilyn Hackett of Franklin [backed in the lawsuit by the ACLU] said her belief that the Christian prayer read at the beginning of town meeting violated her constitutional right not to attend religious worship.

For years, the town moderator has invited a local pastor to read a prayer addressed to the Trinity that followed the Christian doctrine that God is three divine persons - the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

The town had said Hackett does not have to be present for the prayer to participate in the town meeting.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Judge bars Vt. town from prayer at town meeting" by The Associated Press 6/2/12

"The Court concludes that Ms. Hackett was compelled to attend religious worship," [Judge Maley] said in his decision . . . [however] "Plaintiff was never denied access or entry to town meeting — she attended every meeting since 2000," he said.

Hackett, a para-educator, tutor and summer school instructor at the Richford school, has objected to the prayers each year since 2004. In 2007, she interrupted the meeting and pleaded with the voters to stop the prayers but they overrode her request with a vote, according to her complaint.

Two years later, the town moderator agreed to forgo the prayer after she spoke to him but when a community member asked for the prayer, the moderator called for a vote by a show of hands, the complaint said. Hackett was the only one who voted against it.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Vt. judge rules against Town Meeting prayer" by Howard Weiss-Tisman, Brattleboro Reformer Staff 6/2/12

Now Vermont towns, like Brattleboro, that lead off their town meetings with a prayer, will be waiting to see if the decision is appealed and if the Supreme Court is willing to take up the issue.

Longtime Brattleboro Moderator Tim O’Connor points out that Brattleboro residents have been starting their annual town meeting with a prayer since 1753.

"Until there is a final ruling by the Supreme Court I think there is a place for it," said O’Connor. "’In God we trust.’ That’s what the Pledge of Allegiance says. Anyone who doesn’t want to participate doesn’t have to come in until after it has been said."

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.