18 September 2003
The seal of the city of Edmond, Oklahoma, designed by local resident Frances Bryan, was adopted in 1965. In 1992, Rev. Wayne Robinson asked that the cross at three o'clock be removed, claiming that it showed government endorsement of religion; the city declined. Lawsuits ensued, the city lost, and to this day, the seal is displayed with the cross area blanked out.
Now comes a similar story, across the state in McAlester. At the 26 August city council meeting, firefighter Steven Belcher registered a complaint about the city seal, which contains an image of a church topped by a cross, though the complaint didn't seem to be about the cross so much as it was about the city's alleged behavior:
"I feel that the seal would lead citizens to believe that their officials would act in a Christian way," Mr. Belcher said over the weekend. "I think that's misleading after seeing some of the things our officials do. City officials have lied. They've stolen."
There has been no further statement from Belcher, and no formal request to remove the symbol has been filed, but McAlester city officials are busy working up Plan B, just in case; the current estimate for removing the ostensibly-offending symbol is $156,000.
Generally, I tend to want to keep the church and the state at arm's length, both from each other and from me. On the other hand, the blithe assumption that the Wall of Separation requires every last symbol of faith be expunged from public view is becoming increasingly annoying, and the argument that the appearance of an icon represents an endorsement strikes me as specious. The Edmond seal contains a covered wagon, which commemorates the 1889 Land Run; are native Americans going to sue the city on the basis that the city endorses white settlements on native lands? Will environmentalists condemn the McAlester seal, which includes an image of a coal miner's hat, for promoting fossil-fuel use?
TrackBack: 9:54 AM, 20 September 2003
» Wow -- Multiple Linkgasms from blogoSFERICS
Charles Hill, the sage of dustbury.com, has had enough of the symbol expungers. Extending logically from the God cooties problem,......[read more]
TrackBack: 9:24 AM, 21 September 2003
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What more could I ask for in a post with updates from my home state? There's religion, accusations of corruption and lawsuits. Yay for Oklahoma!...[read more]