The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is deeply disappointed by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors decision to add back a cross to the County seal. The motion, sponsored by Supervisors Michael D. Antonovich and Don Knabe, directed the County’s Chief Executive Officer to make the County seal “artistically, aesthetically and architecturally correct” by adding a cross to the image of the San Gabriel Mission. ADL objects to the addition of a cross on both policy and constitutional grounds.
ADL sent a letter on January 6, 2014 to the Board of Supervisors urging a vote against the proposal.
“Today’s vote to add a cross to the County seal sends the divisive and exclusive message to Los Angeles County residents that not only does the Board of Supervisors endorse religion over non-religion, but it also prefers Christianity over all the other diverse faiths within the County” said Amanda Susskind, Regional Director of the Pacific Southwest Region of the Anti-Defamation League. “While a cross may be appropriate on a house of worship, private school or university, it is unsuitable on a government seal that represents a religiously and ethnically diverse county of over 10 million people.”
A previous cross was removed in 2004 after the American Civil Liberties Union threatened legal action. In the redesign, the Mission was added to the seal without the cross to reflect the historical influence of missions in California.
It is ADL’s belief that adding the cross back to the seal is most likely unconstitutional. Numerous courts, including the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals have unequivocally held that the use of the cross on government property constitutes an unconstitutional advancement or endorsement of religion.