Lawsuit Filed to Keep L.A. County Seal Cross, Injunction Requested

( [email protected] ) Jun 11, 2004 09:15 PM EDT

By removing the cross from the Los Angeles County Seal, the County is sending a message of hostility toward Christianity, thereby violating the U.S. Constitution, according to the Thomas More Law Center, a public interest law firm which is filing a suit against the Los Angeles county in the Federal District Court in California. The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Public Works Department employee, Ernesto Vasquez, will also seek an injunction to the county’s decision last week to remove the cross from the official county seal after threatened by the American Civil Liberties Union.

"Not only can the government not establish and promote a particular religion," Attorney Charles LiMandri, director of the Law Center's West Coast regional office in San Diego told Agape Press, “but the government is not supposed to be in the business of discriminating against or showing hostility towards any particular religion because in doing that, it's really favoring the others. We feel that's what's going on here."

The lawsuit filed by the Thomas More Law Center charges the LA County, the LA County Board of Supervisors, and the five County supervisors, for conveying “an impermissible state-sponsored message of disapproval of and hostility toward Christianity in violation of the Establishment Clause."

The Board of LA County Supervisors voted to remove the cross on June 1 giving into demands by the ACLU, which threatened to sue the County if they did not. ACLU feared the presence of the cross on a county seal would mean a government endorsement of Christianity.

However, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles, who wrote a letter to the Board on June 3, said the cross recalls the importance of Catholic missions in the county’s heritage.

"To remove the cross would be to deny the historical record," Cardinal Roger Mahony wrote.

Robert Muise, associate counsel with the Law Center handling the case, said, "LA County now has a choice to make: offend the ACLU and keep the cross or defend their unconstitutional policy of discrimination against Christians in federal court.”

Christians were more than displeased with the County’s decision to remove the cross.

In addition to the 1,500-2,000 supporters to keep the cross protesting outside of the courthouse on June 8, thousands of e-mails and phone calls were received last week by Board supervisors. Tony Bell, spokesman for Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, who also opposed the ACLU agreement, told the Daily News, "We have received upwards of 3,000 e-mails and phone calls, all 100 percent in favor of fighting the ACLU to retain the cross on the seal."

“This is the largest amount of outrage to a county issue we've ever seen,” said John Musella, spokesman for Board of Supervisors Chairman Don Knabe, who also voted to keep the cross on the seal.

It has been reported that Supervisor Antonovich will next week introduce a motion to place the cross issue on the November ballot and let county voters decide.

After negotiations between the County and ACLU, considerations for what could replace the cross included an image of a Spanish mission and the indigenous people who predated the missions.

County spokeswoman Judy Hammond said protesters complained that the ACLU did not question the picture of the pagan goddess Pomona in the center of the seal. A graphic of a Native American may replace Pomona, according to Hammond.

“It’s about an anti-Christian political agenda,” commented Jan LaRue, chief counsel of Concerned Women for America, the nation’s largest women public policy organization. “They’re willing to waste millions of dollars in taxpayer money to remove a tiny cross while leaving a pagan goddess on the seal.”

In a statement, LiMandri commented on how the push to remove the cross is just one of many anti-Christian efforts taking place especially in the state of California.

"California has become a battleground for anti-Christian forces,” said LiMandri. “Whether it be same-sex marriage, the removal of 'under God' from the Pledge of Allegiance, or now the removal of a small cross from the LA County seal, the impact is the same: the de-Christianizing of our society.”

More specifically, the ACLU has played a large role in de-Christianizing of society, according to Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Law Center.

"The ACLU has a plan to systematically remove Christianity from the public square,” said Thompson.

On June 8, a the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals in San Francisco upheld a 2002 ruling by federal judge in Riverside that an 8-foot cross in the Mojave National Preserve that was originally intended as a war memorial is an unconstitutional endorsement of religion. The cross has been covered by a tarp since 2002 since ACLU, which filed the lawsuit, argued that the "primary effect of the presence of the cross" was to "advance religion."

Thomas More Law Center has pledged to stop the ACLU and those who cooperate with their anti-Christian agenda.