The Ten Commandments. Nativity scenes. Public prayer. The cross. The Pledge of Allegiance.
These are a few of the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s least favorite things. And they all are things that the FFRF would like to see completely erased from the public square.
One of the latest victims to be caught up in their zealous efforts to remove every mention of religion from public life is Lehigh County in Pennsylvania.
FFRF is claiming that because the county seal includes a cross symbol, it shows Lehigh County is establishing Christianity as the government-approved religion, violating the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
But that is ridiculous. And it’s simply not true.
The fact is that the seal honors the history of Lehigh County. And Alliance Defending Freedom filed an amicus brief in support of the county and its seal.
There are many other symbols on the seal, including the historic Lehigh County Courthouse, the Liberty Bell, a bison representing the herd at Trexler Nature Preserve, and a heart representing Allentown – the county’s largest city. Each one has some significance in Lehigh County history.
As for the cross symbol, it represents the Christians who originally settled in and began Lehigh County.
It’s hard to deny the religious heritage of the area. Pennsylvania, after all, was originally founded by William Penn as a safe haven for his fellow Quakers.
But its historical significance is not enough for FFRF. The atheist/agnostic organization has been plaguing the Lehigh County Board of Commissioners calling for a removal of the cross symbol for more than three years.
FFRF originally sent a letter to the Lehigh Board of Commissioners in 2014, demanding that they remove the cross from its seal. FFRF sent another letter in 2015.
The Board of Commissioners, in a reply letter, told FFRF that "the cross, one of more than a dozen elements, was included to honor the original settlers of Lehigh County, who were Christian." And the commissioners voted unanimously to keep the seal the way it is.
In 2016, FFRF filed a lawsuit against Lehigh County. And recently, a federal judge ruled that including the cross in the seal is unconstitutional. The commissioners voted to continue the case and have appealed the decision.
As they should have.
After all, acknowledging the heritage of Pennsylvania’s founders is not an establishment of religion; it’s simply a historical fact.
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