Monday, December 19, 2011

Utah Highway Patrol Assn. taking crosses from public lands after Supreme Court lets ruling stand

In October the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to hear two cases surrounding the Utah Highway Patrol Association's placement of memorial crosses at sites where troopers had died. Now three state agencies want the memorials removed, and the troopers are complying. Ten of the 14 crosses are on state land. (Deseret News photo by Stuart Johnson)

Warren Richey of the Christian Science Monitor reports the case originally went before a federal judge who dismissed it, agreeing with the UHPA's statement that "the cross is a recognized symbol of death, not an endorsement of a particular faith," Richey reports. Then the case went before Senior Circuit Judge Davide Ebel of the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, who concluded "the cross memorials would convey to a reasonable observer that the state of Utah is endorsing Christianity," violating the separation of church and state. (Read more)

Now three state agencies have asked the UHPA to remove all memorial crosses on public lands, Jared Page of the Deseret News reports. "Pursuant to prior agreements, you are hereby requested to remove the memorials from the land controlled by this agency at your earliest convenience," letters from the Department of Transportation and the Division of Facilities Construction and Management said to UHPA President Chad McWilliams. The third letter from Utah Highway Patrol Supt. Daniel Fuhr only calls for the removal of UHP logos. The UHPA has already removed the UHP logo from the 14 crosses, adding notes that the crosses are private memorials and are not an endorsement for any religion, Page reports. The UHPA says it will move all crosses to private property and give the court a timeline and locations. (Read more)

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