City funding for Jesus statue called unconstitutional

EDMOND, Okla. (AP) - An Oklahoma City suburb's partial funding of a 26-inch-tall statue of Jesus is being called unconstitutional by Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

The Edmond Visual Arts Commission approved spending $3,900 in city funds to help pay for the bronze sculpture of Jesus surrounded by three children. Titled "Come Unto Me," it will be placed on a city sidewalk in front of Sacred Heart Catholic Gifts. The shop owner privately raised the other $3,900 before seeking matching funds from the commission.

Commission chair June Cartwright says the sculpture was viewed as art and not a religious endorsement. She notes, "It doesn't state that it is specifically Jesus. It is whatever you perceive it to be."

But Barry Lynn of Americans United says city support for the statue is clearly unconstitutional.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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