Last week, a judge declared that the official seal for Lehigh County (Pennsylvania) illegally promoted Christianity. It put an end to a years-long legal battle between county officials and the Freedom From Religion Foundation… temporarily, at least.
Looks like the county Commissioners plan to fight back.
Lehigh County Commissioners voted Wednesday to appeal the ruling last month stemming from lawsuit filed by the Freedom From Religion Foundation and four local members. They objected to the cross’s inclusion on the flag and seal and sought its removal.
It’s an awful idea because the cross is so obviously promoting one faith above all others, but the Commissioners may have been encouraged by Judge Edward Smith, who offered a rather wishy washy explanation of why FFRF won the case.
He admitted that the “inclusion of the cross lacked a secular purpose” and that “a reasonable observer would perceive the seal as endorsing Christianity.” However, he also said in his ruling that he didn’t want to rule in favor of FFRF because he knew the County wasn’t trying to promote Christianity. Why did he do it then? Because the law required the judge to act like a “reasonable observer,” without knowledge of the county’s history. That hypothetical person would see this as an establishment of religion.
If that glimmer of hope is why the Commissioners are appealing the decision, it seems like a foolish move. The Appeals Court, if it follows the same law that Smith did, should be ruling the same way.
This is ultimately a waste of taxpayer money over a logo that can fairly easily be changed. All because the Commissioners really want to promote Christianity without getting in trouble for it.