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'Christ' Taken Out of Public Park's Name

May 14, 1987|From Times Wire Services

SAN BERNARDINO — County supervisors have taken "Christ" out of the name of a biblical sculpture garden in response to an expected American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit.

The supervisors this week voted to change the name of Desert Christ Park in Yucca Valley, where 40 larger-than-life statues of biblical figures stand, to Antone Martin Memorial Park, to honor the artist who created the figures as a protest against potential nuclear destruction.

The ACLU is still expected to sue to force the county to abandon the four-acre park, which it contends violates constitutional provisions on the relationship of church and state. But county officials hope their action could help achieve a compromise, said Deputy County Counsel Betsy Hanna. Hanna said the name change should bolster the claim that the statues have "historical, rather than religious, meaning."

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