Skip to comments.Cross on county seal draws criticism (Idaho}
Posted on 05/24/2007 5:11:55 PM PDT by Baladas
CANYON COUNTY Canyon Countys official seal depicts a Christian cross on top of a church and steeple. And the religious symbol has drawn criticism from a Caldwell man and others who say it excludes people of other religious faiths and non-believers.
The countys spokeswoman said the seal reflects the countys values and that no one complained about the seal when officials presented it to the public and later adopted it in 2005.
County commissioners approved the new seal in November of that year, hoping it would represent modern-day Canyon County. The cross is too small to be visible in many uses of the seal, such as on county letterhead. But it is plainly visible on several larger seals displayed in the County Courthouse. The seal depicts a scene with a river, hills, livestock, buildings and other items.
To bring up religion at all is a violation of the Constitution, Caldwell resident Randy Hooban said. Its the wrong mindset for government.
The First Amendments establishment clause bars government from endorsing religions. And the city of Edmond, Okla., lost a court case in the late 1990s that challenged a cross on its city seal when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the citys appeal. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled that the Edmond seal violated the establishment clause by endorsing Christianity.
Los Angeles County supervisors voted to remove a cross from its official seal in 2004 after the American Civil Liberties Union threatened a lawsuit.
City government seals depicting religious symbols have faced legal challenges in other parts of the country, including Missouri and Ohio.
Hooban noticed the Canyon County seal earlier this year at a Canyon County Democratic Central Committee meeting. He said he contacted the ACLU of Idaho in Boise about the seal and brought the issue up with Canyon County Commissioner Steve Rule.
Now, county attorneys are making sure they have their ducks in a row, spokeswoman Angie Sillonis said, in case they have to defend the seal. But she said the county has not heard from the ACLU.
Canyon County Prosecutor Dave Young said he did not think there was a legal problem with the seal. I think a strong case can be made that churches and the cross have a very strong historic significance in Canyon County, he said, and the Supreme Court has said you can have religious displays if they have historical significance.
Speaking for the commissioners, Sillonis said the church with a cross on it represents religion, which is a key value in the community. Commissioners David Ferdinand and Matt Beebe were in office when the seal was adopted.
The seal was intended to reflect the community, and I think the commissioners think it does, Sillonis said. There was a list of items we wanted to depict on the seal, and churches was one of them. But others disagree on its appropriateness.
If we have representations of only one faith, of only one set of beliefs, doesnt that limit us? Pastor Doug Yarbrough of Nampa First Congregational United Church of Christ said. That puts some people on the outside, and that seems unhealthy to me.
Sillonis said there are 152 Christian churches listed in the Canyon County phone book and no non-Christian churches. But Canyon County Democratic Chairwoman Maria Gonzalez Mabbutt, who ran against Ferdinand in November, said the seal could be divisive.
What about individuals in our community that belong to the Bahai religion and other religions that may not be Christian? Mabbutt said. Government should not show favoritism to dominant religion in a community.
Nampa GOP Rep. Brent Crane said he had not seen the seal, but he had no particular problem with it. It sounds to me like theyre just trying to show that faith is a part of our community, Crane said.
The county adopted the new seal in 2005 partly because different county departments were using different seals, Ferdinand said at the time. Official seals for Ada County and the cities of Nampa, Caldwell and Boise do not appear to contain any religious symbols.
Canyon County resident and longtime county government critic Deloris Cram said commissioners should have known better than to put a religious symbol on a public seal. A public seal that deals with a public agency should make absolutely no reference to religion of any kind, Cram said. That immediately removes certain people from feeling like they have adequate representation".
This guy needs a history lesson.
What, are non Christians somehow not allowed to use a podium that has the county seal on it or something?
This boob shouldn't be allowed anywhere near a pulpit.
Which Constitution is he talking about? The US or the state?
The first amendment starts out as:
Congress shall not...
It says nothing about the actions of county governments in the various states. Many of the states had religious tests to hold public office at the time they agreed to the first amendment, and continued to do so after they agreed to it.
On the contrary, the first amendment makes it perfectly clear that even if the feds wanted to pass a law forbidding a county for having a cross on their seal, they would not be allowed to!
The amendment is being used for the exact opposite of the intended purpose.
There is no belief system that does not have at least some who disagree. For instance, some do not like democracy. Some think they should be able to have sexual relations with small children.
Should then our government be more sensitive to the feelings of child molesters and fascists? Certainly letting people vote and putting child rapists in jail is contrary to the belief systems of this minority. Are we not then intolerant and exclusionary if we choose to support such policy? Are we not using the government to shove our own belief system down their throats?</snark>
Give me a break! They are complaining about that?!?
You can barely see the thing! Talk about a tempest in a toilet bowl.
I’m tired of the ACLU bullcrap.
Somebody find out where these people live....
People here will not take too kindly to this individual and the few other contrarian BS artists backing them. I was afraid this would happen when the Californians started their invasion a few years ago. Ive seen it in Oregon and when stationed in Colorado Springs. First they inflate the price of a house so the locals can no longer afford one and then they start meddling in how things work in local politics with their multi-cult BS. They already screwed up their state and cant help themselves from screwing up their new home.
Time to put a stop to that.
For one thing, many Christian churches do not have crosses on steeples ~ there are really no doctrinal requirements for the outside of buildings where Christians meet anyway.
I wanna complain about the tractor on the seal! It deliberately excludes and marginalizes John Deere owners! Where's my lawsuit settlement?!? /s
Like the old joke where a woman living near a beach expresses indignation at the scanty attire visible from her window.
I cant make out anything from here, says her friend.
Well yes, she replies, producing binoculars, youre not using these.
Thanks for posting the seal.
What a bunch of Bravo Sierra by liberal paranoids over a little nuthin’!
Fight it till the end. I’m sick and tired of the majority having to lay down in this country.
“Pastor Doug Yarbrough of Nampa First Congregational United Church of Christ...”
Oh, yes. We have one of those here in my town. They proudly fly their rainbow flag continuously and write a letter to the editor every few weeks whining because some “bigot” has torn it down. Nuts.
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