TOMS RIVER, N.J. (AP) — A dispute in a southern New Jersey town over the saying of the Lord’s Prayer at public meetings could take on a new life.

Point Pleasant Beach Borough’s council has already agreed to discontinue saying the prayer at the start of meetings, a practice that dates back to the mid-1990s. The action came after the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit last month after a borough resident objected to the reading, saying it was an unconstitutional endorsement of religion.

Earlier this month, the council agreed to hold a moment of silence to replace the prayer at the start of meetings. But a group of parishioners from a local church recited the prayer during that time.

Last week, the council approved a resolution that allows council members, on a rotating basis, to begin meetings with a nonsectarian prayer. An attorney representing the ACLU told the Asbury Park Press of Neptune that the resolution could lead to another lawsuit.

The two sides attended a hearing in state Superior Court on Friday.

Borough attorney Kevin Riordan told state Superior Court Judge Vincent Grasso that, although he could advise council members not to say the Lord’s Prayer when their turn arose, he could not stop them.

Riordan and ACLU attorney Frank Corrado didn’t return phone messages Saturday.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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