Why This Court Got It Right On Religious Imagery

The Daily Signal | 8/21/2019 | Staff
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Nicole Russell is a contributor to The Daily Signal. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, The New York Times, National Review, Politico, The Washington Times, The American Spectator, and Parents Magazine.

In a win for the First Amendment, a federal appellate court ruled earlier this month that the seal featuring a cross located in Lehigh County, Philadelphia, does not violate the Constitution’s establishment clause and can stay put.

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In a 3-0 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled against the atheist group Freedom From Religion Foundation, striking down their attempt to remove the seal.

The ruling came as a result of the Supreme Court’s binding decision in June which held that the Bladensburg memorial cross in Maryland could not be torn down, since it was a historic monument that reflected America’s rich religious heritage.

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The ruling on the seal comes as confirmation that the cross does not violate the First Amendment’s establishment clause, and marks the conclusion of a long-fought battle between the atheist group and the county over the memorial’s cultural significance.

Lehigh County’s seal features a cross, representing the religious freedom that German settlers found in America when they fled religious persecution in their native land centuries ago. Grain silos, textiles, animals, the Liberty Bell, and a red heart also accompany the seal and represent the county’s heritage and culture.

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In the decision, the court said that two years after designing the seal, Commissioner Harry D. Hertzog explained the symbolism of the seal: “in center of shield appears the huge cross in canary-yellow signifying Christianity and the God-fearing people which are the foundation and backbone of our county.’”

The seal had been in use for 70 years without controversy until members of Freedom From Religion Foundation living in Lehigh County filed a lawsuit in 2016, alleging that the cross on...
(Excerpt) Read more at: The Daily Signal
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