Thursday, June 21, 2007

ACLU Demands Removal of Jesus' Picture From Lousiana Courthouse

The lobby of the Slidell, Lousiana City Court prominently features a picture of Jesus, with an inscription under it reading "To know peace, obey these laws". Today's New Orleans Times-Picayune reports that the ACLU of Louisiana has written court officials demanding that the picture be removed. The letter says that the picture violates the Establishment Clause, arguing that "The only possible purpose of the display in your courthouse is to convey a religious message." The ACLU says that it will file suit if the picture is not removed.

UPDATE: Slidell court officials say they need time to consult an independent constitutional expert on the legality of the Jesus portrait, and so will be unable to meet the one-week deadline for removing it set in the ACLU's letter. The Times-Picayune reports, however, that Joe Cook, state ACLU director, says a lawsuit will be filed if the deadline is not met.

UPDATE: Saturday's Times-Picayune shows a photo of the disputed portrait-- a 16th century Russian Orthodox icon showing Jesus holding a Bible with two quotations in Russian. They are from John 7:24 and Matthew 7:2 that call for judging fairly.

UPDATE: On Monday, the ACLU agreed to extend its deadline for filing suit in order to give Slidell City Judge Jim Lamz more time to study the issue. (June 26 Times-Picayune).