On New Year’s Eve, two Los Angeles County supervisors took a stand and filed a motion calling for the placement of a cross on the county seal.
From 1957 to 2004, on the face of the seal, a cross hovered above a depiction of the Hollywood Bowl, acknowledging a Christian influence in the founding of Los Angeles. The Christian symbol was expunged in 2007 as a result of demands by secular activists and the ACLU.
The secularists argued that the symbol of the cross on the county seal violated the separation of church and state. The Board of Supervisors at that time voted 3-2 to remove the cross.
In Tuesday’s motion, LA County Supervisors Mike Antonovich and Don Knabe called to add a cross to the drawing of the San Gabriel Mission on the county’s official emblem, arguing that it was important “to accurately reflect the cultural and historical role that the Mission played in the development of the Los Angeles County region.”
The dean of UC Irvine‘s law school, Erwin Chemerinsky, said placing a cross on the seal is unconstitutional. “The government can’t put religious symbols on government property in a way that would cause a reasonable observer to see it as the endorsement of a religion,” the dean said. “Though the supervisors may say there is a history of missions in Los Angeles history, the reality is a cross is a Christian symbol and only a Christian symbol, and a reasonable person is likely to perceive it as a Christian symbol.”
Dennis Prager, conservative talk radio host and Jewish scholar, ran an energetic campaign in 2004 to keep the symbol of the cross on the seal. He wrote:
For the overwhelming majority of millions of citizens of Los Angeles County over the past 50 years, this seal has aroused no opposition. But a few months ago, someone with a magnifying glass at the American Civil Liberties Union discovered that the smallest item on the seal was a cross. And in its aim to expunge any trace of Christianity and God from American public life, the ACLU brought this fact to the attention of the five Los Angeles County supervisors. The three liberals on the board were equally horrified, and voted within days to erase the cross and redesign the seal, which now depicts a building with no Christian symbol in place of the cross.