Friday, April 30, 1999

This time Jesus
is saved; church gets
to keep its mural

By Mary Adamski


The 96-square-foot picture of Jesus Christ on a North Shore church stays.

The city citation charging that it's an illegal sign goes.

A letter is going out to the Rev. Rodger Hall today rescinding the notice of violation he received March 12 about the mural on the Sunset Beach Church of Christ and Christian School.

The letter from Jan Sullivan, director of the city Planning and Permitting Department, tells Hall that "after further consideration, it has been determined not to be a sign," said Carol Costa, director of the city Department of Customer Services.

The same message will be sent to Mitchell Kahle, president of Hawaii Citizens for Separation of State and Church, whose complaint led to the citation that carried the threat of daily fines until the picture was removed.

Kahle said earlier that his group acted on behalf of a nearby neighbor who objected to the mural. He said churches should be held to the same restrictions as businesses, which have limits on size and placement of signs advertising their services.

The citation, issued by a city inspector who investigated the complaint, said the mural is a sign. A city permit is required and a sign in a residential neighborhood would be limited to 24 square feet, according to the citation.

Planning officials decided the mural does not require a permit, Costa said.

They also decided not to issue a citation against the "Jesus Coming Soon" sign atop the Apostolic Faith Church in Palolo Valley, another target of a Kahle complaint. The Palolo sign was erected in 1935. "It is nonconforming and is allowed to remain," Costa said.

Hall said earlier that, although the church members initially removed the mural, they later decided it should stay up. It contains no words and "we don't believe it is a sign," Hall said before the city's citation was withdrawn. The church has displayed murals with Bethlehem and Desert Storm themes in the same space over the past 12 years, he said.

The church secured legal representation from The American Center for Law and Justice.

Neither Hall nor Kahle could be reached for comment yesterday.

E-mail to City Desk

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