MINNEAPOLIS -- A federal judge gave no indication when he might rule on a logger lawsuit against the U.S. Forest Service and two environmental groups, claiming the Forest Service has buckled to a nature-based religion.
But the judge did express some feeling about the lawsuit's contents.
''Steve, what in the world are you doing?'' U.S. District Judge James Rosenbaum asked the loggers' attorney, Stephen Young. A busload of loggers sat in the back of the courtroom Friday, listening intently.
The complaint contends that a set of religious beliefs can be proved, but there is no way to definitively do that, Rosenbaum said.
''Am I going to have a trial on whether there was an Adam and Eve?'' he said. ''Am I going to have a trial on whether owls are involved in deep ecology?''
On one level, the case is a battle between environmentalists and loggers over commercial tree-cutting in Minnesota's forests. But it also is a fight over the separation of church and state.
A group of loggers filed the lawsuit last fall, saying ''deep ecology,'' which regards the natural world as sacred, is dictating Forest Service policy.
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