Judge: Christian Cross Has No Place on Los Angeles County Seal

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In a long-awaited ruling, a federal judge has sided with plaintiffs who argued it was unconstitutional for Los Angeles County supervisors to place a Christian cross on the county seal.

The latest version of the Los Angeles County seal, as seen on the county’s website on April 7, 2016.

A divided Board of Supervisors voted in 2014 to reinstate the cross on top of a depiction of the San Gabriel Mission, which appears on the seal among other symbols of county history. They were sued by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California and a group of religious leaders and scholars, who argued that placement of the cross on the seal unconstitutionally favored Christianity over other religions.

The county had removed a cross from the seal — this one shown floating above the Hollywood Bowl — a decade earlier after being threatened with a similar lawsuit. The proponents of reinstating the cross argued it was needed to make the image historically and architecturally accurate.

In a 55-page ruling released Thursday, U.S. District Judge Christina A. Snyder wrote that the addition of the cross ”carries with it an aura of prestige, authority, and approval. By singling out the cross for addition to the seal, the county necessarily lends its prestige and approval to a depiction of one faith’s sectarian imagery.

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