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County to discuss putting cross back on seal

Posted: December 31, 2013 4:50 p.m.
Updated: December 31, 2013 4:50 p.m.

The Los Angeles County seal adopted in 2004 replaced the Christian cross image with a depiction of the San Gabriel Mission without a cross on it. Supervisors Michael D. Antonovich and Don Knabe want the image on the seal to have a Christian cross on top, as the restored building does.

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SANTA CLARITA - Almost a decade after the threat of a lawsuit prompted its removal, the Christian cross could be restored to the Los Angeles County seal.

On Tuesday the Board of Supervisors will be called on to add a cross to the top of the San Gabriel Mission image on the seal. That cross-less image of the mission was added to the seal in 2004 to replace the Christian cross located there on the 1957 version.

A motion by supervisors Michael D. Antonovich and Don Knabe calls for the mission image to include a cross because without it, “the seal is artistically and architecturally inaccurate.”

“At the time that the seal was redesigned in 2004, the cross had been missing from the top of the mission since 1989, when it was taken down to retrofit the structure after damage from the Whittier Narrows earthquake.

“The cross was returned to the top of the mission in 2009 after being lost for decades,” and it thus should also be returned to the mission image that appears on the seal, Antonovich and Knabe reason in their motion.

The American Civil Liberties Union threatened to sue the county nearly 50 years after the 1957 seal was adopted, saying the cross represented an endorsement of Christianity and thus a violation of the First Amendment.

Members of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 in June 2004 to remove the cross, replacing it with the San Gabriel Mission historical landmark depiction.

At the time of the change, county supervisors also decided to remove the depiction of oil towers and the Roman Goddess Pomona from the redesigned seal.

“The actual mission is currently incorrect on our seal,” Tony Bell, a spokesman for Antonovich, said Tuesday. “What this motion will do is fix a physical inaccuracy.”

“So what our motion does is fix what is currently physically inaccurate by putting a small cross on top of the San Gabriel Mission, which is reflective of the way the mission appears today,” Bell said, adding that the motion was a way to honor the historical importance of the mission.

The current county seal also includes a Native American woman holding a basket, as well as a cow, a tuna fish, a Spanish Galleon, engineering instruments, the Hollywood Bowl and two stars representing the importance of the television and motion picture industries in Los Angeles County.
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