Judge Rules L.A. County Seal will Not Have Depiction of Cross

Court says the depiction of cross on the L.A. County Seal would promote one particular religion: Christianity.

Los Angeles is a diverse county. Its population includes people from many different religions and non-believers as well. Placing a Christian cross on its official seal goes against the Constitution. It violates the right of the people of Los Angeles County who are non-believers and non-Christians, to be treated fairly by the government.

It did not come as a surprise to a lot of Los Angelenos, when the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) of Southern California and a group of religious scholars and leaders sued the county, after a majority of the Board of Supervisors voted to depict the Christian cross on the Los Angeles official county seal. The federal lawsuit stated that the move was unconstitutional, and it favored Christianity over other religions.

Last Thursday, the court ruled in favor of removing the Christian cross from the seal. United States District Judge Christina Snyder handed down the ruling stating that the inclusion of the emblem of one particular religion will place the power, purse, and prestige of the county behind that one particular religion, in this case, Christianity. Wherever the official seals are displayed, like on county buildings, flags, vehicles, and so on, they will all become a platform to endorse Christianity.

The executive director of the ACLU of Southern California, Hector Villagra, and Linda Burrow, the attorney for the plaintiffs, expressed their delight over the ruling. They said that the ruling helps to cement the fact that Los Angeles is a diverse county, and the government will treat all the Los Angeles people with equal dignity.

Former Supervisors of the county Zev Yaroslavky and Gloria Molina, who were against the depiction of the cross on the seal, said that the court's ruling is a great victory for the Constitution. Yarosalvky said, “The government should not be in the religion endorsement business.” David Sommers, the spokesman for the county, refused to comment by stating that the county officials are reviewing the ruling. Don Knabe, Michael D. Antonovich, and Mark Ridley-Thomas, from the Board of Supervisors, said that the court's ruling is disappointing.

The ruling is politically mired. The court did not take into consideration the fact that the cross has been a historical part of the Los Angeles county seal. Antonovich in a statement said; “The court failed to see that the Board corrected the inaccurate depiction of the San Gabriel Mission on the seal with an architecturally accurate version that featured a small cross – which of course the mission has,” and added “As any California fourth-grade student knows, the San Gabriel Mission is an important icon to the region and the birthplace of Los Angeles County.”

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