2014 UPDATE PLEASE – Marilyn Hackett: Grace under fire.

Original post AND COMMENTS are from March 5, 2013. It should be noted that Marilyn has been awarded damages by the judge, which she has contributed to the ACLU.   Can anyone enlighten us as to what took place in Franklin this year?

It’s that time of year again and we would like to know how Marilyn Hackett’s neighbors are treating her these days.  Marilyn, if you’re out there somewhere, we’d love to hear from you, first hand.


Town Meeting Day wouldn’t be complete without a look back on what was Marilyn Hackett’s annual clash with her Franklin neighbors over public prayer. We’ve revisited that drama many times here on GMD.

Last year, prayer was suspended in anticipation of a decision favoring Ms. Hackett’s position. Now that that decision has specifically ended prayer on the premises of Town Meeting, the community faces the challenge

of creating new traditions within the bounds of law.

So once again this year, there was no prayer at Town Meeting.

Instead, Ms. Hackett’s pious neighbors gathered at an interfaith prayer meeting at St. Mary’s church, half-an-hour before commencement of the traditional public meeting at Franklin Central School.

Referring to Ms. Hackett, a defiant Father Roger Charbonneau was quoted by the Messenger as saying

…We decided to have it at church where she can’t interfere with our prayer.  She can’t prevent us from praying in our own churches.

Ms. Hackett’s own response to the arrangements was considerably more gracious:

This is just the right thing for those who feel the need to pray on Town Meeting Day.  I think it’s great.

Nicely said, Ms. Hackett.  

We hope that, in time, the people who gathered today at St. Mary’s  will embrace the freedom from religion for which you fought so valiantly, because it really is the grand bargain that must be preserved in order to protect their own freedom of religion.

When they do, maybe you’ll even get the “thank you” which you so richly deserve.

About Sue Prent

Artist/Writer/Activist living in St. Albans, Vermont with my husband since 1983. I was born in Chicago; moved to Montreal in 1969; lived there and in Berlin, W. Germany until we finally settled in St. Albans.

15 thoughts on “2014 UPDATE PLEASE – Marilyn Hackett: Grace under fire.

  1. I was hoping it would be like this w/no fanfare or a continuance of the deplorable treatment Ms. Hackett has suffered. These ppl are quite clearly blind-a common symptom of religiosity. Difficult to believe they have stubbornly continued this mean-spirited campaign against freedom & justice.

    Priest has head up ass. Just had to make one final public display of abject hatred. No wonder the crickets are chirping in so many churches.

    Bible they hopefully read teaches that those wishing to be seen & heard in public performing religious activities are merely hypocrites.  

  2. According to a story in Wednesday’s St. Albans Messenger, It wasn’t just Father Roger, but also East franklin United Church pastor Jason McConnell (he also conducted Lloyd Touchette’s funeral service a week ago with grace and compassion) who not only gathered the faithful to pray at St. Mary’s, but was called upon to speak first at Town Meeting. He issued forth a blessing on attendees in the name of “our Lord Jesus Christ.”

    From the Messenger story:

    However, McConnell spoke first [… and] began by discussing the creation of a new tradition of prayer before Town Meeting.

    “By the end he was talking about our lord Jesus Christ and God blessing us all,” said Hackett. […] She was distressed by his conferring of a religious blessing on the meeting.

    Hackett has asked her attorneys to examine whether McConnell’s blessing was in violation of the court order.

    Can’t you just hear those guys thinking, “Okay, no prayer. But a blessing isn’t a prayer, amirite?”

    They may think they’re getting around the Vermont Constitution’s provision prohibiting municipal enforcement of religious attendance, but they’re not. And I hope the next court ruling is clear that ANY religious observance during an official town meeting is in violation thereof.

    What the xtians not getting is that that constitutional article protects them. I wonder how sanguine they’d be if a rabbi or an imam or a hari krishna or a sikh was invited to “bless” the townsfolk at their official municipal annual meeting.


    […] no person ought to, or of right can be compelled to attend any religious worship, or erect or support any place of worship, or maintain any minister, contrary to the dictates of conscience, nor can any person be justly deprived or abridged of any civil right as a citizen, on account of religious sentiments, or peculia[r] mode of religious worship; […] ~ excerpt from Article 3, Vermont Constitution (as amended in 1994 for gender-inclusive language)

  3. Just to clarify, all of these comments except for this one and Nanuq second one were posted on the diary as it appeared a year ago.

  4. …We decided to have it at church where she can’t interfere with our prayer.  She can’t prevent us from praying in our own churches.

    Really! Which I’m pretty sure was never the intention Mr. Selfrighteous.  

  5. That the good father seems so “put out” about praying in his own church. It’s as if he doesn’t like the place, or something. Maybe he’s just worried about being struck down for spewing his hypocrisy and hate in the house of the lord.

  6. what a bunch of jerks-Jesus is still weeping. I also read that issue isn’t over just yet judge has still to award damages to Ms. Hackett.

    I see this as clearly contempt of court. A blessing is a prayer-there are many ‘types’ of prayer-all of which are basically communication with the divine being of ones choice, the ‘publicly’ is the crime here as it should be. No need to invoke pray at town meeting, I’m pretty sure Jesus would be happy if they just went to church, shut the hell up and remove head from ass.  

  7. If you check the date on my comment as reprinted above, you’ll notice it was from last year. I did not copy & paste it, and I don’t know who did.

    I stand by what I wrote, but it would’ve been courteous to ASK before reusing the comment.


    If I were a dictator, religion and state would be separate. I swear by my religion. I will die for it. But it is my personal affair. The state has nothing to do with it. The state would look after your secular welfare, health, communications, foreign relations, currency and so on, but not your or my religion. ~ Mohandas K. Gandhi

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