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« on: February 26, 2005, 10:44:51 PM »

Legal Group Seeks Restoration of Texas Courthouse Bible Display

by Allie Martin
February 25, 2005

(AgapePress) - A Christian law firm has asked a federal appeals court to return a Bible removed from a 50-year-old monument outside a Texas courthouse earlier this year.

The Harris County monument is owned by the Star of Hope Homeless Mission and is located in front of the Harris County Civil Courthouse in Houston, where it has stood since 1956 in honor of a local philanthropist. However, last year local real estate agent Kay Staley, a member of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, sued to have the Bible removed, arguing that the sacred book's inclusion in the display made it tantamount to the advance of a specific religion by the state.

The Bible was removed from the monument in January 2005 after a stay on a federal judge's 2004 order expired. The monument gathered tremendous public attention after its court-ordered alternation from the original form.

Jonathan Saenz is an attorney for Liberty Legal Institute, a legal organization committed to the defense of religious freedoms and First Amendment rights. He says Liberty Legal recently filed a brief asking the court to restore the holy book to the display, because the LLI attorneys "strongly believe that removing the Bible while allowing other monuments that are dedicated to historical figures to stand tells citizens that faith-based public service is unworthy of recognition."

Saenz believes there is a great deal at stake in the case of Staley v. Harris County, with all its free expression, viewpoint discrimination, and religious liberty implications. "We have a scenario here, where there are other historical markers in the area," the lawyer says, "but we believe the court has singled out this one monument and asked that part of the monument be stripped away because it has religious content."

According to Kelly Shackelford, chief counsel for Liberty Legal Institute, nothing in the Constitution of the United States requires that Americans must sandblast every trace of their religious heritage from their historic monuments.

Allie Martin, a regular contributor to AgapePress, is a reporter for American Family Radio News, which can be heard online.


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