Atheist group sues shelter over Catholic blessing of animals

TETERBORO, N.J. — An atheist group is suing to stop an annual blessing of the animals at a New Jersey shelter. reports American Atheists Inc. claims in a federal lawsuit the Bergen County Animal Shelter’s blessing of the animals by a Roman Catholic priest violates the First and Fourth amendments.

The event was held last month and is intended to honor Saint Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals.

The lawsuit seeks an injunction against the county’s participation plus legal fees. It names Bergen County, the shelter and its director.

The lawsuit says the Teterboro shelter is using government resources to promote religious ceremonies. The shelter is run by the county’s Department of Health Services and receives money from the state.

The county hasn’t returned an email sent Monday seeking comment.


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