Katrina memorial touts religion, ACLU says

Aug. 6, 2006 at 5:30 PM

SHELL BEACH, La., Aug. 6 (UPI) -- A planned New Orleans-area Hurricane Katrina memorial showing Jesus' face and a cross is religious and unconstitutional, a civil liberties group says.

The 13-foot memorial to 129 Katrina victims in St. Bernard Parish has government support and is set to be located at a public waterway, the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana says, the Times-Picayune reports, and should therefore be religiously neutral.

The newspaper says parish President Henry "Junior" Rodriguez had a simple reply to the assertion: "They can kiss my ass."

Rodriguez said the memorial will be erected on private land near the shoreline of the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet at Shell Beach, La., and is being financed with donations, so it's legal.

ACLU Louisiana Executive Director Joe Cook said the Parish Council approved the monument and was therefore sanctioning a religious symbol.

Of Rodriguez's quip, Cook said he'd prefer if Rodriguez "would kiss the Constitution."

The parish plans to dedicate the memorial on Aug. 29, the one-year anniversary of the devastating hurricane.

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