Hindu Couple Fights for Right to Own Cows on Farm

January 24, 2006

Source: The New York Times


On January 24, 2006 The New York Times reported, "Stephen and Linda Voith, followers of the Hindu-based Krishna Consciousness movement, bought a house on a two-and-a-half acre property on Main Street [in the village of Angelica] in 1999. Their beliefs include a concept called cow protection, in which cattle are revered... [The] couple [has] fought the village for nearly seven years to keep cows they consider sacred. The fight over a permit to keep cows in the village is now headed to the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court... Officials cite a 1986 village ordinance banning livestock on lots of less than 10 acres, unless the land is part of a farm primarily outside the village or the owner gets a permit. The Voiths initially boarded their cow, Chintamani, on such a farm across the street, but they began keeping her and her offspring on their property in 2001, leasing an additional 12-acre plot in an effort to comply with the law. The village board denied their application for a permit, however, and after a series of court appearances at the village and county level, an acting state supreme court justice ruled that the ordinance did not violate the Voiths's constitutional right to religious freedom... The appeal maintains that the livestock ordinance violates the Voiths's First Amendment rights to freedom of expression and religion, particularly since a neighboring farm is allowed to keep livestock, and asserts that the Voiths were denied due process when the trial judge refused to consider the constitutionality of the ordinance."