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(RNS) A federal appeals court ruled on Thursday (Jan. 14) that a Kentucky county courthouse can keep its Ten Commandments display, overturning a lower court ruling.
The “Foundations of American Law and Government Display,” at a Grayson County, Ky., courthouse included the biblical laws along with eight other historical documents. It was challenged by two men who thought its placement violated the Constitution’s prohibition against the government establishing a religion.
In a 2-1 decision, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed, saying the display presented an educational, not religious message.
“There is nothing about the setting of the display that would be viewed as encouraging or lending itself to prayer, meditation or other religious activity,” wrote Circuit Judge David W. McKeague for the majority.
He said the men challenging the display, who were represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, “failed to present evidence sufficient to demonstrate that an objective observer could have concluded that the county’s asserted secular purpose was a sham.”
In a dissenting opinion, Circuit Judge Karen Nelson Moore, disagreed with that conclusion: “The evidence … clearly indicates that the predominant purpose was to post the Ten Commandments as a religious text and that the additional, `Historical Documents’ were added merely to avoid violating the Constitution.”
Mathew Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, who represented the county, hailed the decision. “It defies common sense to remove a recognized symbol of law from a court of law,” he said.
— Adelle M. Banks
Copyright 2010 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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