The Utah Highway Patrol Association has pulled a commemorative coin featuring the group's logo paired with a Christian cross from its stores and website this week after being informed the coin raised the same legal concerns addressed in a court decision barring such crosses on public land in Utah.
Salt Lake attorney Brian Barnard discovered a posting for the coin on the association's website earlier this week and brought it to the attention of an attorney who represents state agencies.
Barnard's reaction: "My goodness, that coin sure looks like the Roman cross that was the subject of our lawsuit," he said.
Barnard sued the group in 2005 on behalf of American Atheists Inc. and three of its members, arguing that, although the crosses were privately funded, the inclusion of the UHP logo on the religious symbol and placement on public land represented a state endorsement of Christianity. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed and in 2010 ordered the crosses removed.
The association removed UHP logos from the 14 crosses and also agreed to move them to private land. Proceeds from sales of the $15 coin were earmarked to help with that effort. Barnard said apparently the association had not received approval for the coin design. A call to the Utah Highway Patrol Association was not returned Friday and the attorney for UHP is out of town.