September 6, 2013
Liberty Counsel Offers Defense of Cross on DeLand City Seal
DeLand, FL—Liberty Counsel stands ready to defend the City of DeLand, Florida, pro bono against an Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU) challenge to the city seal. Today, Liberty Counsel sent a letter
to city officials, rebutting the erroneous arguments of AU.
Unchanged since it was adopted in 1882, the city seal consists of a large heart, an anchor, and a cross. AU is complaining that the seal is an “unconstitutional establishment of religion.”
AU’s letter alleges that not only is the cross unconstitutional, so are the heart and anchor because they each symbolize “theological virtues” as set forth in 1 Corinthians 13:13 (faith, hope, and charity), and, therefore, the entire seal must be gutted of all three symbols.
Nothing could be further from the truth. In King v. Richmond County, the Eleventh Circuit upheld a county court seal containing the Ten Commandments, noting that it, too, had been in use for over 130 years. AU filed an amicus brief in the case and its arguments and those of the plaintiffs seeking to remove the Ten Commandments were soundly rejected by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which is the court that has jurisdiction over Florida. Yet, AU’s letter to DeLand failed to mention the case. AU’s arguments in its letter are wrong and deceptive.
In both Weinbaum v. City of Las Cruces and Murray v. City of Austin, the courts of appeals upheld the inclusion of a cross in the insignias of Las Cruces, New Mexico, and Austin, Texas.
“[I]n considering the Establishment Clause challenge to Austin’s insignia, we must recognize the reason for the cross originally being in the coat of arms; that Austin did not have an improper purpose in adopting the insignia; its long and unchallenged use; its non-proselytizing effect; that in its context, it does not endorse religion in any true or meaningful sense of the word “endorsement”; and that requiring the City to remove all displays of the insignia, arguably evinces not neutrality, but instead hostility, to religion.” Murray v. City of Austin
“Despite secularist attempts to eradicate religion from our history and public square, religion is indelibly woven into the American experience,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “To remove the heart, anchor, and cross from the DeLand city crest would be like forbidding the recognition of Valentine’s Day because love is a concept found in the Bible. Liberty Counsel stands behind the city of DeLand and its 131-year-old seal. To remove the cross from the historic seal would be absurd and demonstrate hostility toward religion,” said Staver.
Liberty Counsel is an international nonprofit, litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics.
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