Appeals court to decide Bible display

Dec. 8, 2005 at 2:40 PM

AUSTIN, Texas, Dec. 8 (UPI) -- A federal appeals court is deciding whether a monument at the Harris County courthouse in Austin, Texas, is religious or a secular tribute.

A lower court judge ordered an open copy of the King James Bible removed from the display, initially erected in the 1950s to honor Christian philanthropist William S. Mosher. Harris County is appealing the decision.

Appellate Judge E. Grady Jolly of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals indicated during oral arguments Wednesday politics might have "hijacked this monument," the Houston Chronicle reported.

"I think it's very clear that the reason the Bible was out there was for a religious purpose," Houston real estate lawyer Kay Staley said. The lower court ruled the Bible signaled a government endorsement of Christianity.

"If this case goes against me, there's going to be jillions of monuments that are going to have all these kinds of Bibles that go up," she said.

Carloss Morris, former president of Star of Hope, the group that erected the monument, testified in the lower court case: "If everyone in Harris County ... accepted Christ as their savior, we would be better than if they were all Hindus," briefs filed in the case said.

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