Atheists File Federal Lawsuit Against Lehigh County (PA) Over Its Christian Seal August 17, 2016

Atheists File Federal Lawsuit Against Lehigh County (PA) Over Its Christian Seal

In February of 2015, officials in Lehigh County (Pennsylvania) discussed what to do about their seal:

That would be a Christian cross smack dab in the middle of the symbol. The Freedom From Religion Foundation had sent them a warning about how this was an illegal promotion of religion, but a month later, county officials announced that they would tell FFRF to shove it:

Commissioners voted 9-0 to direct the county solicitor to send a strongly worded response to the foundation stating their intention not to remove the cross from the seal.

“It is the position of Lehigh County that the presence of the cross on the seal among all the other items of historical significance has the secular purpose of recognizing the history of the county,” the response stated. “As such it does not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Accordingly, the county is not planning on removing the cross from the seal.”

Yeah, the giant Christian cross at the center of the symbol has nothing to do with religion. It’s all about “history”… the history of the Christian majority that was around in 1944:

According to Lehigh County Historical Society records, county Commissioner Harry D. Hertzog designed the seal, which was adopted in 1944. An undated Call-Chronicle story about the seal says the cross in the center of the shield represents “Christians who settled in Lehigh County.”

Now, FFRF and four members of the Lehigh community have filed a federal lawsuit against the County:

By adopting and displaying a seal and flag with a Latin cross, the county is violating the First and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The purpose is religious, not secular, and “has the primary effect of both advancing religion and expressing defendant’s preference for Christianity above all other religions and nonreligion,” the plaintiffs contend.

FFRF and its co-plaintiffs are seeking a declaration that the religious symbols on the county seal and flag are unconstitutional, a permanent injunction against displaying them, nominal damages, costs and attorney fees.

“Lehigh County is not a Christian county, it should be equally welcoming to all its citizens regardless of their religion or their reject of religion. A redesign to comply with the Constitution is imperative,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor.

You can read the full lawsuit here.

Just remember this: Lehigh officials had multiple opportunities to do the right thing and change the logo. Every time, they blew it. Now they’ll have to defend their foolishness in court. Let’s hope the money they’ll lose in attempting to defend their Christian privilege teaches them — and the taxpayers who elected them — a lesson.

(Thanks to Brian for the link)

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