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International – Penn State cross row

November 2017

Atheists have won a case to remove a cross from an historic Pennsylvania county seal. According to a story in the Christian Post, a federal judge ruled in September that the seal was ‘unconstitutional for including a cross’.

US District Judge Edward Smith released a decision against Lehigh County’s seal, arguing that having a cross included in the emblem ‘fails the endorsement test’. In his decision, Judge Smith wrote: ‘In this case, neither the longevity of the seal nor the secular symbols surrounding the cross detract from the religious message that a cross conveys to the reasonable observer. Honouring the settlers by retaining a cross on the seal is the equivalent of honouring the fact that the settlers were Christian’.

The case had been brought in 2016 by the Freedom From Religion foundation, which filed a lawsuit on behalf of many residents, claiming that the Latin cross on the seal was objectionable to freethinkers, as it endorsed Christianity. They claimed it had violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment.