ACLU applauds decision

by Cindy White, New York Cuba Patriot

ANGELICA—The Western Regional Office of the New York Civil Liberties Union expressed its gratification over the dismissal of charges brought against a village of Angelica family for harboring animals in the rural village of Angelica.
A press release from the Civil Liberties Union stated, “In July of last year, Steven and Linda Voith were cited under an old town ordinance for keeping cows on their 1.5 acre farm without a permit. The Voith’s were denied a permit because they were unable to obtain the signatures granting permission from their immediate neighbors, despite the fact that all of their neighbors keep livestock (including cows on their property which is also within village limits). The Voith family has long been the target of religious persecution in this predominantly Christian community because of their adherence to the Krishna Bhaktivedantis religion, the exercise of which includes such customs and rituals as chanting in procession and other practices foreign and unacceptable to the community. The Voith’s keeping of cows, which are sacred and revered in the Krishna Bhaktivedantis religion, was the practice that lent itself to attack on legal grounds because of the existence of the ordinance. That the ordinance has been largely unenforced and suffers from other defects was not addressed by the court because of the defects in the case presented by the village which led to its dismissal.”
“Even though we feel that this is a victory in a long battle against religious intolerance, we are disappointed that the charges weren’t dismissed “with prejudice” said Jeanne-Noel Mahoney, Executive Director of the Western Regional Office of the New York Civil Liberties Union, referring to Justice Brautigam’s dismissal of all the charges “without prejudice” which means that the village of Angelica can refile the charges. Adding, “We have felt all along that this entire issue is about prejudice, not cows.
“To prosecute a farm holder for keeping the same kinds of animals that his neighbors keep is absurd.” continued Mahoney, adding, “We will be watching the actions of the village of Angelica very, very closely. We can only hope that Justice Brautigam’s decision will give the village pause to reconsider pursuing this harassment of the Voiths,” continued Mahoney, “We still have not ruled out legal action against the village of Angelica for this ongoing and abhorrent religious persecution.”