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Judge Throws Out Motion to Remove UHP Road Memorials

Judge Throws Out Motion to Remove UHP Road Memorials

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Ashley Hayes reportingA judge has thrown out an atheist group's motion to remove road memorials for highway patrol troopers killed on the job.

American Atheists Incorporated feel the crosses violate separation of church and state. They say the Utah Highway Patrol logo shouldn't be placed on a Christian symbol like a cross. They also argue the crosses are on government property which they say is a state endorsement of Christianity.

A federal judge denied the group's motion to have the crosses taken down before the case goes to trial. He called the motion inappropriate and said taking the crosses down would be a premature victory for the Atheist group.

In December, Stephen Clark - a plaintiff in the suit - and local Atheist leader sat down with Eyewitness News. He says he's not against honoring troopers.

Stephen Clark, Salt Lake Valley Atheists, December 2005: "If these religious symbols were on private property that would totally satisfy us, or if a secular symbol was placed on government property, that would satisfy us."

Clark suggested a flag, made of cloth or steel, be erected in the place of a cross.

Many people say the crosses are a small tribute for paying the ultimate sacrifice. To remove them is a shocking and blatant request.

Devan Thorne, Son of fallen trooper, December 2005: "It's like moving a gravestone, it's like digging up a graveyard, and it's just not right."

JoAnne Winn Sharpe, Wife of fallen trooper, December 2005: "I now have 29 grandchildren and seven great pretty soon; these are kids that will never know their grandfather."

The 14 crosses will remain up for now, but it could be temporary, as the case still has to go to court.

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