Vermont Town Suspends Opening Prayer

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For years, Franklin, Vt., has opened its town meetings with prayer -- until a lawsuit this year put a stop to the practice.

Town resident Marilyn Hackett said the prayer forced her to participate in organized religion. She asked officials to stop inviting the pastor who opens the meetings with prayer, Vermont Public Radio reported.

But Franklin officials argue that Hackett is not obligated to be present for the prayer, so her rights were not violated.

"Basically what is being asked of this court is that the court whitewash our history and sanitize the very notion of a God," James Carroll, the attorney for Franklin, said.

"It is quite easy for an individual to leave the room for the very brief period of time that an invocation is given and re-enter the room," he said.

Nevertheless, on their attorney's advice, town officials have suspended the opening prayer for a year. A judge has yet to rule on the case.

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