By Stephanie Taub, Senior Counsel at First Liberty
On Sept. 7, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit heard oral arguments over whether the Lehigh County seal is constitutional.
Attorneys representing the county argued that the seal is constitutional and need not be censored simply because it contains religious imagery. They are absolutely right. Forcing the county to change its seal would undermine both constitutional law and American tradition.
For 70 years, the Lehigh County seal has featured a number of objects that represent the community’s unique history and culture. These are symbols of education, patriotism and industry that hold particular significance to the county’s citizens: a bison, factories, cement silos, an oil lamp set on two books, a courthouse, bunting and flags.
The seal also features a cross, which commemorates the county’s original settlers, many of whom were members of religious minorities from Germany, Holland and other nations seeking refuge in the area. They were Mennonites, Schwenkfelders, Dunkers, Moravians and Amish.
It defies common sense to argue that the image of a cross, along with the other significant symbols, on a seal compels citizens to practice Christianity or coerces religious belief of any kind. But anti-religion activists object to the image of the cross and insist that federal courts order its removal.