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Couple sues town for barring home prayer meetings

Posted: Friday, December 15, 2000

NEW MILFORD, Conn. (AP) -- A couple is suing the town zoning commission in federal court over a Nov. 29 order to halt weekly prayer meetings at their home. Robert and Mary Murphy say the town is violating their constitutional rights to freedom of religion and peaceful assembly.

The Murphys have invited family and friends to their home Sundays since 1995 for religious fellowship. They say typically 25 people at most attend, but a zoning enforcement officer counted more than 30 cars parked at the house.

''This is clearly a case where the zoning authorities have overstepped their authority,'' said Vincent McCarthy, a lawyer for the American Center for Law and Justice who represents the couple.

But the town says zoning regulations do not allow large, regular gatherings in residential neighborhoods.

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