Two Los Angeles County supervisors reopened a controversial debate this week to put a cross on the county’s seal.
The Los Angeles Board of Supervisors voted in 2004 to remove a cross that appeared on the county seal above a rendering of the Hollywood Bowl. The cross had appeared on the seal since 1957.
Conservative Supervisors Michael D. Antonovich and Don Knabe want to return the cross to the seal arguing that the current seal on which the San Gabriel Mission appears is “artistically and architecturally inaccurate” without a cross.
“We, therefore, move that the Board of Supervisors direct the Chief Executive Officer to make the county seal artistically, aesthetically and architecturally correct by placing the cross on top of the San Gabriel Mission in order to accurately reflect the cultural and historical role that the mission played in the development of the Los Angeles County region,” the two wrote in a motion filed on Tuesday.
Dean of UC Irvine’s law school Erwin Chemerinsky told the Los Angeles Times that the proposal unconstitutional.
“The government can’t put religious symbols on government property in a way that would cause a reasonable observer to see it as the endorsement of a religion,” Chemerinsky said. “Though the supervisors may say there is a history of missions in Los Angeles history, the reality is a cross is a Christian symbol and only a Christian symbol, and a reasonable person is likely to perceive it as a Christian symbol.”
The executive director of American Civil Liberties of Southern California, Hector Villagra, says putting the cross on the seal “communicates that Los Angeles County favors and endorses one religion above all others.”