Star of Hope to file motion to keep Bible on display
The mission is receiving help from a nonprofit legal organization
By BILL MURPHY
Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle
Star of Hope will file motions today asking a judge to allow the mission's Bible to remain on display outside the Harris County Civil Courts Building.
Star of Hope will be represented by the Alliance Defense Fund, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based nonprofit that provides free legal services to those opposing constitutional curbs on religious expression.
Gary Brown, Star of Hope's director of operations, said he could not say whether the mission would comply with U.S. District Judge Sim Lake's order to remove the Bible by Tuesday if the judge does not stay his own order. The county and the mission want Lake to wait until appeals have been exhausted before he enforces the order.
"We can't say what we will do. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it," Brown said. "We are part of the community. We believe in order and justice."
On Aug. 9, Lake ordered the county to remove the Bible. Harris County Attorney Mike Stafford said he will ask Star of Hope to remove the Bible, which belongs to the mission.
It sits in a glass case atop a monument that Star of Hope erected near the courthouse in 1956 to honor William S. Mosher, a major benefactor.
Star of Hope will file a motion today to intervene in the case, said Victoria Matta, the alliance's spokeswoman.
"The memorial stand with the Bible inside was legally placed at the back door of the county courthouse," the shelter said in a written statement.
The Bible is "a symbol of why this man of vision (Mosher) did what he did," the statement said.
Kay Staley, a local lawyer, sued the county, arguing that displaying the Bible on county property violates the separation of church and state doctrine. Lake ruled that displaying the book was unconstitutional because it made the county appear to be endorsing Christianity.