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Couple sues over omission of words ‘Thank you, Jesus’

Associated Press, USA
Sep. 26, 2003
Gene Johnson
www.sfgate.com

ReligionNewsBlog.com • Friday September 26, 2003

Couple sues over omission of words ‘Thank you, Jesus’ from inscription in state park

A couple who purchased an inscribed brick for a state park playground are suing because the words “Thank you Jesus” were not included as they had wished.

Residents had organized an effort to build a playground this spring at Saint Edward State Park, located on the northeastern shore of Lake Washington.

Money for the project was raised in part by the sale of inscribed bricks to be displayed there for $100. Dan and Olga Buchanan ordered one with the message: “Thank you Jesus, Daria & Evan Buchanan.”

But when they saw their brick in the playground’s walkway, it read only, “Daria & Evan Buchanan.”

On Wednesday, the American Center for Law and Justice filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court on behalf of the Buchanans. ACLJ lawyer Stuart J. Roth said the omission violates his clients’ free-speech rights.

“The law is very clear: If a state permits a wide variety of messages to be posted in a public area, the state cannot reject a message because it contains a religious reference,” Roth said.

The group had offered the couple their money back. Colleen Ponto, who lead the volunteer effort, did not return calls.

Virginia Painter, a spokeswoman for the state Parks and Recreation Commission, said Thursday that the volunteers were trying to respect the constitutional separation of church and state.

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