Ruling on Texas Courthouse Bible Display: Violation of Separation of Church and State

August 16, 2006

Source: Americans United press release

On August 16, 2006 an Americans United press release reported, "A federal appeals court has held that a Bible display outside a Texas county courthouse violates the separation of church and state. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that a religious memorial outside the Harris County Civil Courthouse violates the First Amendment principle of church-state separation. The ruling in Staley v. Harris County upholds a 2004 district court decision that the display, which prominently features an open Bible illuminated by neon lighting, runs afoul of the Constitution. Americans United for Separation of Church and State argued before the 5th Circuit that the district judge’s ruling should be upheld against an appeal by Harris County officials. 'A courthouse should welcome citizens of all religious perspectives and none,' said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. 'This display sent the clear message that Christianity was the government-preferred faith and other Americans are second-class citizens. In a diverse country, that’s unacceptable.'"