.- A citizens’ group is gathering signatures to restore a tiny cross to the county seal after the board of supervisors recently voted 3-2 to remove it.
The Committee to Support the Los Angeles County Seal is aiming to collect 341,212 signatures by March 1, which would force the board to enact an ordinance protecting the original seal. The committee has gathered 40,000 signatures to date.
David Hernandez, who leads the committee, told the Washington Times that he was encouraged by the great support for this initiative.
A June survey conducted by the Los Angeles Daily News found that 94 percent of respondents wanted the seal unchanged.
The vote to eliminate the cross came after a May 19 letter from the American Civil Liberties Union, which threatened to file a lawsuit unless the cross was removed from the 50-year-old seal.
At a June hearing, hundreds of demonstrators from a variety of religious backgrounds rallied outside the county building in support of keeping the cross. In testimony before the board, dozens of supporters argued that the cross was a symbol of California history and religious freedom. Their argument was backed by law professors and legal foundations.
"Christianity plays a major role in the history of this county. To take that cross off is a symbol of something terrible happening," Jewish talk-show host Dennis Prager told the Times.
In a seven-page opinion, the county counsel's office said the ACLU likely would win a legal challenge because the cross violated the separation between church and state.
Already, some Web sites feature a new seal.
The old seal depicts the Greek goddess Pomona, oil derricks and a tiny cross next to two stars. The new seal replaces the goddess with an American Indian girl holding a bowl of grain, and the cross and the oil derricks with the Catholic San Gabriel Mission, without a cross.