ACLU Files Suit Against N.J. Town’s Council Prayer Policy

Residents Largely Torn; Court Hearing Scheduled In 2 Weeks

POINT PLEASANT BEACH, N.J. (CBS 2) — A small town’s council is being accused of defying the separation between church and state by calling on its members to pray at every meeting.

The New Jersey chapter of the ACLU has filed a lawsuit against the Point Pleasant Beach City Council over holding a prayer in a government proceeding. The ACLU said it violates the religion clause of the First Amendment and the Garden State’s no-preference clause.

The suit is the ACLU’s second against Point Pleasant Beach — the first was over the council reciting The Lord’s Prayer word for word.

“People shouldn’t be made to feel like outsiders at their own government town council meetings, and they definitely shouldn’t be made to feel like outsiders because of their religious faith,” The ACLU’s Ed Barocas told CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis.

Some said what Barocas described is exactly what is occurring. The council’s official prayer policy calls on individual council members to volunteer to pray, stating: “The designated council member shall deliver the prayer…in his or her capacity as a private citizen, and according to the dictates of his or her own conscience.”

Residents at the meeting were torn.

“I think you always have to ask God to help,” Vincent Castan said.

“I feel that if we say the ‘Our Father,’ it’s too specific, and I know some people feel that way,” Lisa Muller said.

Rev. Carlos Wilton of the Point Pleasant Presbyterian Church was also unhappy with the prayer policy.

“I would be in favor of the town moving to something like a moment of silence that would not have any sectarian influence one way or the other,” Wilton said.

But Councilman Ray Cervino said he saw nothing wrong with the policy.

“Whether you’re Jewish or Muslim or Christian, we all believe in God,” Cervino said.

In the end, the council knows its treading lightly as it faces a court hearing in the next two weeks.

  • Brad Tombs

    The Supreme Court established that public schools can teach about religion, so long as it does not “influence one’s belief or disbelief” as though the act of teaching and learning is not influential. Thus, public schools do not place religion in high esteem. What does mold one’s belief or disbelief is for Government to establish that religion symbols, prayer, or discussion should be abolished in public as though it is not important. Downgrading religion as not important enough to be publicly displayed has had the greatest influence in molding public school children’s disbelief in God. The ACLU wants to expand that influence in disbelief to all public places.

  • dddienst

    I support the point pleasant town councils prayer policy. People of the town elect their council members and their faith is a part of that representation. Each member can pray in accordance to their own religion so no harm no foul.

  • james

    So why do you say or sing GOD BLESS AMERICA.

  • mary ann

    the aclu needs to lay off this issue…. continue to pray before your meetings as you always have done… and God wil lead and direct you… i will continue to pray also as we have always done… if you don;t like the prayer.. remain in the hall until it is done. then enter the room…. continue to fight for your right city council and don;t buckle to the PC nonsense…mas

  • fern

    Religion is the scourge of mankind, it gives you hope but that is all it gives you a little like Obama he gave you hope and that is all you got.
    Nothing can be said about Bush, what is there to say of a man who gets lost between the protasis and the apodosis.

  • Conservative AHole

    Once and for all, this is a Christian nation!! You heathens (Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and Democrats) will one day recognize God’s unending love and mercy. Or you will burn in f#####ing hell!!!!!!

    • Josh

      We most certainly are not. Go bck to elementary school where they teach American history to 8 year olds and learn about the founding of our nation and the Constitution.

    • Enough is Enough

      Wow… I appreciate your brand of Christiantiy. NOT

  • Conservative AHole

    The concept of a separation of church and state is a lie, fabricated in a term paper written by Barack Obama while he was cheating his way through the University of Kenya.

  • Diogenese

    First they remove prayer from our schools, now our city councils can’t even say a prayer? What’s next? Are we going to eliminate God from our entire nation and close all the Christian churches, too? The ACLU needs to be banished and sent to a desolate island, where they can no longer disrupt our culture and way of life. Shame on them!

  • Merry Joe K

    Injun is a prime example of why the ACLU is right

  • INJUN93


  • INJUN93




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