County Fights Ruling Against Cross On Seal, Says It’s Historic

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Joshua Gill Religion Reporter
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A Pennsylvania county has appealed a federal ruling against the Latin cross on its seal, arguing that it is historically significant and not religious promotion.

Attorneys from the Becket Fund, representing Lehigh County, made oral arguments to a federal appeals court on Friday and said the Latin cross on the county’s seal was not unconstitutional as it did not amount to establishment of religion, but instead paid homage to the history of the area’s settlers. Their appeal is part of an ongoing case started by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which filed a complaint against the county concerning their seal, saying that they were promoting Christianity. (RELATED: Freedom From Religion Foundation Tries To Bully School Into Removing Prayer From Graduation)

Legal representation for the county noted that the cross was meant to symbolize the original settler’s flight from religious persecution and that it was one of 12 symbols on the seal.

“FFRF is like the wicked witch of the west: A drop of religion and they scream ‘I’m melting!'” said Eric Baxter, vice president and senior counsel at Becket, in a statement provided to The Daily Caller News Foundation. “But flags with historically-significant religious images are part of American culture: New Mexico’s flag has the sacred sun symbol of the Zia Native American tribe, Louisiana’s has a Catholic symbol of a pelican with a bleeding heart to feed its hatchlings the Eucharist, and Utah’s has multiple images that recall the Mormon pioneers.”

The FFRF argued, however, that the intention behind featuring the cross is expressly religious.

“Given the record in this case, the court must conclude what any reasonable observer would: The county has a religious purpose for maintaining the county seal, just as it did when it designed the seal 70 years ago,” the organization’s appellate brief stated.

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