That's how Vermont Public Radio leads with its story of the lawsuit brought by the ACLU-VT on behalf of Marilyn Hackett of Franklin. Hackett objects to the saying of a Christian prayer at the start of her town's annual meeting. She has tried over a period of a half dozen years to have the town stop the practice, but to no avail.
Here's how Julie Kalish of Norwich, an ACLU cooperating attorney representing Hackett, explains the lawsuit against the town and the town meeting moderator:
Article 3 of the Vermont Constitution guarantees that no one may be compelled to attend or support religious worship. The problem is that the defendants insist upon including prayer as part of town meeting even though voters like Ms. Hackett must attend town meeting in order to vote on all the warned items.
Working with Kalish on the case is another ACLU cooperating attorney, Bernie Lambek from the firm of Zalinger Cameron & Lambek, P.C. of Montpelier. Lambek notes:
Franklin's inclusion of religious worship in town meeting is every bit as unacceptable as forcing voters to listen to a prayer before placing their ballot in the ballot box in November. The Vermont Constitution reflects the fact that from early in our history, this has been a place where everyone's beliefs can co-exist, whether religious or irreligious. Both Article 3 of our constitution and our more recent public accommodations act ensure that government officials do not use their authority to promote one religious belief over another, or religious beliefs over secular beliefs. Vermonters are tolerant and diverse.
No date has yet been set by the Superior Court for a hearing on the lawsuit.
Read the complaint and supporting documents in the case on the ACLU of Vermont's Web site.