June 2016 Church & State - June 2015

Court Rules Calif. County Seal Cannot Feature Cross

  AU admin

A federal court ruled in April that Los Angeles County, Calif., must remove a Latin cross from its official seal.

“By singling out the cross for addition to the seal, the county necessarily lends its prestige and approval to a depiction of one faith’s sectarian imagery,” wrote U.S. District Court Judge Christina A. Snyder. “The county also provides a platform for broadcasting that imagery on county buildings, vehicles, flags, and stationary.…Permitting such a change and the associated expenditure of public funds places the county’s power, prestige, and purse behind a single religion, Christianity, without making any such benefit available on an equal basis to those with secular objectives or alternative sectarian views.”

The county seal lacked religious imagery until 2014, though it did display an image of the Mission San Gabriel Arcangel. The mission did not have a cross on it from 1987 to 2009 thanks to the combined efforts of an earthquake and theft; it eventually received a replacement cross in 2009. Los Angeles County commissioners voted to add the cross to the seal’s depiction of the mission in 2014.

Several county commissioners told the Los Angeles Times they may appeal the court’s verdict in Davies v. Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

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