PHILADELPHIA — The Third Circuit Court of Appeals has unanimously ruled that a Christian cross included on a Pennsylvania county’s official seal does not violate the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution, pointing to a recent ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court that allowed a cross veterans monument to remain on public property.
“The Establishment Clause’s original public meaning and the court’s most recent interpretation of it make two things clear: the Lemon endorsement test does not apply to Lehigh County’s seal, and this 75-year-old seal casts only that mere shadow. ‘It has become part of the community,’” wrote Judge Thomas Hardiman on behalf of the panel, quoting in part from American Legion v. American Humanist Association.
As previously reported, the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) had filed a lawsuit against Lehigh County in 2016 on behalf of four residents who asserted that the inclusion of the cross on the county seal, which appears on official documents and inside of government buildings, violates the separation of Church and State.
“As a resident of Lehigh County, Mr. Simpson has been subjected to viewing the seal, which he finds offensive,” the legal challenge read. “Mr. Simpson does not want his county government to be represented by a Christian symbol.”
“The display of the Latin cross by Lehigh County has the primary effect of both advancing religion and expressing Defendant’s preference for Christianity above all other religions and nonreligion,” it also contended. “The adoption and display of the Latin cross constitutes an endorsement of religion by
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