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A federal judge has rejected claims that the constitutional separation of church and state is violated by a granite monument with the Ten Commandments on the Bannock County Courthouse lawn.

But the American Civil Liberties Union says the decision of U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge will likely be appealed.In a 30-page decision, Lodge said that the county had succeeded in putting the monument in a secular context that renders it constitutional.

Opponents of the monument, Lodge wrote, "have provided no evidence that the Ten Commandments display is connected with any church . . . . The Display itself is not located near any church, and there is no appearance of preference being given to a religious group."

The Monument, given to the county in 1967 by the Fraternal Order of Eagles, was challenged in 1992 by self-described atheists.

In an attempt to end the conflict out of court, the county erected two additional monuments in 1993 - one bearing a quotation from Thomas Jefferson on religious freedom and the other declaring that the county does not endorse any particular religious belief.

County Commissioner Tom Katsilometes said the display will not be changed in light of Lodge's Sept. 7 ruling.