Following in the string of court decisions stripping the nation of its religious roots, the U.S. District Judge Sim Lake ordered a Bible display to be removed from the Harris County Civil Courts Building in Texas, on Tuesday, August 10, 2004. The county’s attorney office, which has ten days to remove the monument, said it would appeal the decision to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans and to the Supreme Court.
During Tuesday’s case, Lake said the display violates the first amendment establishment clause, since displaying the bible would be promoting Christianity.
The monument, however, was installed in 1956 not as a tribute to Christianity but as an honor to philanthropist William S. Mosher. The Star of Hope Mission erected the monument to honor Mosher, who was a major donor to the mission.
During the proceedings of the case, Lake wrote that the witnesses expressed concern that removing the Bible "would send the message that religion serves no role in our society and that government is hostile to religion."
However, he said, the ruling is actually neutral.
"In the context of this case, religious neutrality means that Harris County should not be seen as endorsing Christianity," Lake wrote
The Star of Hope, which has not yet been formally notified to remove the monument, said it would not defy court order.
Observers outside the court expressed their discontentment with the ruling, although they said they would not interfere with any effort to remove the Bible.
"I cannot understand why anybody would want to remove from the eyes of the public, 'Thou shalt not kill,' 'Thou shalt not steal,' said Donald Buzbee, 70, an evangelist from east Houston who has been protesting outside the courthouse. "It's not right that they can kick God out of everything."