Prayer goes on at NJ town meeting despite ruling

POINT PLEASANT BEACH, N.J. - December 23, 2010

On Dec. 17, a state judge struck down a resolution that allowed council members themselves to take turns leading prayers at the start of meetings.

Judge Vincent Grasso found the resolution unconstitutional. His ruling came in reaction to a lawsuit filed in September by resident Sharon Brenner Cadalzo. She is Jewish and says the organized prayers violated her civil rights in the lawsuit, which was backed by the ACLU.

About 60 people attended Tuesday night's meeting, and many said the ruling was a major concern.

Early in the meeting, about a dozen of them recited the Lord's Prayer as council members watched.

After the prayer, several citizens urged the town to appeal the ruling, pointing out that Congress and state legislatures open their sessions with prayers.

"I don't think saying a prayer has anything to do with religion," Dorothy O'Reilly told the Asbury Park Press. "It's about freedom of speech."

But Borough Attorney Kevin Riordan said an appeal could be expensive. He said the ACLU already is seeking $40,000 from the borough in for legal expenses for the first round in courts.

Others in the audience promised to organize a petition drive.

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Information from: Asbury Park Press, http://www.app.com

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