[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

Inside
Weather
Santa Clarita CA
Sunny
Sunny
53°F
 
Calendar
Today in
S.C.V. History
February 20
1906 - L.A. County accepts Mr. H.C. Register's bid to build (Old) Newhall Jail for $2,237 [story]


Commentary by Andrew G. Fried
| Monday, Feb 3, 2014
Andrew G. Fried

Andrew G. Fried

The First Amendment of our nation’s Constitution establishes five rights that the founding fathers considered so important, they listed them first in the Bill of Rights. Among them are guarantees of free speech, a free press, freedom to assemble, the right to petition our government when we have a grievance, and the right to freely exercise the religion of our own individual choosing.

The religious rights in the First Amendment are covered consecutively in two clauses known as the establishment clause and the free exercise clause: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

Seems pretty clear, right? But as we’ve seen yet again in the latest debate over whether a Latin cross can be added to the Los Angeles County seal, sometimes creative interpretations of the establishment clause muddy the waters.

The county Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 on Jan. 7 to add a Latin cross to the depiction of the San Gabriel Mission shown on the county seal. A cross had been removed from the seal in 2004 amid debate and the threat of litigation by the American Civil Liberties Union over whether its presence violated the establishment clause. It didn’t then, and it doesn’t now.

2004 version

2004 version

In voting to add the cross to the seal, Supervisors Michael D. Antonovich (who represents the Santa Clarita Valley), Don Knabe and Mark Ridley-Thomas recognized that this isn’t a question of religion. It’s a question of history.

The supervisors didn’t adopt Christianity as the county’s official religion, nor did they violate anyone’s right to practice the religion of their own choosing. Rather, the supervisors made an appropriate, historically accurate nod to the role the missions played in the development of Southern California as we know it.

The San Gabriel Mission was at the center of Los Angeles when it was established in 1771. From 1775 to 1803, Frs. Antonio Cruzado and Miguel Sanchez made the San Gabriel Mission one of the most successful in California.

Over the next 20 years, Fr. Jose Zalvidea continued their work and also introduced large-scale viticulture (cultivation of grapes) to Los Angeles County and California — which today has become a $20-billion-plus industry in our state. Ultimately, the San Gabriel Mission had the largest vineyard in early California.

Pre-2004 county seal

Pre-2004 county seal

According to the California Missions Resource Center, “Starting with only 128 animals in 1772, the (San Gabriel) Mission herd reached 42,350” head of cattle and sheep at its peak. “Over its active life, San Gabriel was far more productive than any other mission in California, harvesting over 353,000 bushels of wheat, barley, corn, beans, peas, lentils and garbanzos,” thus contributing key components to the economic foundation of Los Angeles County.

Therefore, the San Gabriel Mission certainly belongs on the Los Angeles County seal, which reflects the history of the region.

The county seal prior to September 2004 included a cross, but the San Gabriel Mission was not included. When the seal was redesigned in 2004, the cross was removed and the mission was added. At that time, the mission was undergoing earthquake damage repairs, and its cross had been removed. After completion of the restoration in 2009, the cross was placed back on top of the mission.

Unfortunately, some individuals and organizations want to treat the addition of a Latin cross to the county seal as a “separation of church and state” issue. Inevitably, we can expect that some overly litigious individual or organization will file a lawsuit seeking to stop the county from including the cross on the seal.

But there’s already legal precedent, from the nation’s highest court, correctly recognizing that the mere presence of such a symbol doesn’t trample on anyone’s First Amendment rights, nor does it constitute a governmental establishment of a religion. In the Supreme Court decision of Salazar v. Buono (2010), Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing the court’s plurality opinion, stated: “The goal of avoiding governmental endorsement (of religion) does not require eradication of all religious symbols in the public realm.”

To depict the mission and history accurately, the cross should be represented on the seal, not as a religious statement but as a historical one.

 

Andrew G. Fried is an Agua Dulce resident and president of Safe Action for the Environment Inc., as well as a former three-term president of the Agua Dulce Town Council. His commentary reflects his own views.

Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.

0 Comments

You can be the first one to leave a comment.

Leave a Comment


Opinion Section Policy
All opinions and ideas are welcome. Factually inaccurate, libelous, defamatory, profane or hateful statements are not. Your words must be your own. All commentary is subject to editing for legibility. There is no length limit, but the shorter, the better the odds of people reading it. "Local" SCV-related topics are preferred. Send commentary to: LETTERS (at) SCVNEWS.COM. Author's full name, community name, phone number and e-mail address are required. Phone numbers and e-mail addresses are not published except at author's request. Acknowledgment of submission does not guarantee publication.
Read More From...
RECENT COMMENTARY
Thursday, Feb 15, 2018
There was broad public support for the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan, which struck a careful balance between lands available for large-scale renewable energy development and the environment. Now the federal government is rethinking it - putting the important and much-needed protections at risk.
Tuesday, Feb 13, 2018
You can prevent vision loss by finding and treating problems early. Medicare covers a glaucoma test once every 12 months for people at high risk for glaucoma
Wednesday, Feb 7, 2018
Sierra Club Angeles Chapter SCV Group Chair Sandra Cattell urges Santa Clarita Valley residents to contact their congressional representatives to push legislation to kill the Cemex mining project in Soledad Canyon.
Friday, Feb 2, 2018
Santa Clarita City Manager Ken Striplin highlights the city's customer service efforts in his message for February 2018.
Friday, Feb 2, 2018
If the Department of the Interior is successful in destroying this national monument, the next one slated for destruction is Grand Staircase-Escalante, then Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument along the California-Oregon border.
Friday, Feb 2, 2018
Here’s what is happening on February 24: a rally to organize students in the Los Angeles Unified School District "against" the highly effective Los Angeles School Police Department.

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
The new year got off to a solid start for residential real estate in the Santa Clarita Valley with single-family homes sales up even as median prices of homes and condominiums sold during January posted higher than a year ago, the Southland Regional Association of Realtors reported Monday.
SCV Home Sales off to Solid Start in New Year
The Santa Clarita Public Library’s fourth annual One Story One City program returns with free, themed events during the entire month of March. The One Story One City initiative encourages citywide discussions and promotes reading across all ages through one story.
One Story One City Program to Begin in March
Learn what it takes to become a part of the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
Feb. 21: LA County Fire Department Recruitment Seminar at COC
Join the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce at its inaugural Current Affairs Forum, sponsored by Poole & Shaffery, featuring the President and CEO of the California Chamber of Commerce, Allan Zaremberg.
Mar. 6: Chamber’s Inaugural Current Affairs Forum
WASHINGTON (CN) – Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas berated his colleagues Tuesday for rejecting a challenge by gun owners to California’s 10-day “cooling-off” period.
SCOTUS Rejects Challenge by California Gun Owners
1906 - L.A. County accepts Mr. H.C. Register's bid to build (Old) Newhall Jail for $2,237 [story]
NextSCV, newly rebranded from SCV Emerging Leaders, will host a behind-the-scenes tour of the Princess Cruises world headquarters in Valencia, followed by a mixer at The Dudes’ Brewery, on Wednesday, February 28.
Feb. 28: NextSCV Behind-the-Scenes Tour of Princess Cruises HQ
The Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital Foundation has added three new members to the board of directors -- Don Kimball, community president at FivePoint; Tracy Lawrence, MD, director of Emergency Services, Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital; and Robert Stern, CPA, Stern, Kory, Morgan & Sreden.
Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital Foundation Adds 3 to Board
Hollywood Boulevard will be closed for the Oscars between Highland Avenue and Orange Drive from 10 p.m. on Sunday, February 25 to 6 a.m. on Wednesday, March 7.
Hollywood Blvd. Closed for Oscars Feb. 25 to March 7
Westmont scored a 54-41 home win over The Master's University women's basketball team Saturday night, as the Mustangs scored the fewest points in a game this season, shooting just 31 percent from the floor.
The Master’s Can’t Find Groove in Santa Barbara
The TMU Mustangs rallied from a deficit late Saturday afternoon to beat Hope International 4-3 in the nightcap, completing a series and a doubleheader sweep of the No. 8 Royals.
Mustangs’ 4-3 Comeback Sweeps Royals in Closer
Josh Robison slugged a go-ahead, two-run homer in the eighth inning and No. 14 The Master's University rallied from a three-run deficit to beat No. 8 Hope International 7-6 in the first game of a doubleheader Saturday afternoon at Lou Herwaldt Stadium.
Robison Rallies Mustangs Past Royals in Opener
Farmers Insurance agent Jon Albert will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the grand opening of his new Santa Clarita office on Tuesday, February 20 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Feb. 20: New Farmers Insurance Agent Hosts Grand Opening
The Mustangs opened the second half of their 101-82 win at Westmont College on Saturday with a flurry of steals and blocks and buckets, which helped TMU claim at least a share of the first GSAC title in program history.
Mustangs Claim Share of 1st GSAC Title in Program History
CSUN's fifth annual Maurice Amado Foundation Lecture in Jewish Ethics will feature respected scholar Aaron J. Hahn Tapper, who will examine issues surrounding reconciliation and forgiveness in his talk at Valley Beth Shalom Synagogue in Encino on Wednesday, March 14 starting at 7:30 p.m.
March 14: CSUN Amado Lecture to Explore Forgiving the Unforgivable
A federal grand jury on Friday indicted a 32-year-old Texas man accused of carrying out a five-day, 2 million-email attack on the Los Angeles County Superior Courts computer system in July 2017.
Feds Indict Texas Man in LA County Court Email Hack
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will host live Oscars viewing parties in New York and London for its members and invited film industry guests on Oscar Sunday, March 4.
March 4: Academy to Celebrate Oscar Night in New York, London
College of the Canyons' baseball team beat Chaffey College 12-9 in a wild game on Saturday when the home team scored eight runs in the 7th to gain the win and improve to 7-4.
College of the Canyons Outruns Chaffey College 12-9
The next Canyon Country Advisory Committee meeting at the Mint Canyon Moose Lodge includes a meet-and-greet with 25th District Congressional candidate Michael Masterman-Smith on Wednesday, February 21, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Feb. 21: Canyon Country Advisory Committee Meeting
"NCIS" producer-writer Scott Williams has been added to the lineup of speakers at the 2018 Economic Outlook Conference hosted by the SCV Economic Development Corporation and COC at TPC Valencia on March 8 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
March 8: ‘NCIS’ Producer Joins 2018 SCV Economic Outlook Panel
The William S. Hart Union High School District's Career & College Readiness Department is celebrating Career Education Month in February by providing students a variety of pathways to success.
Hart District Celebrates Career Education Month
Arroyo Seco Junior High School and Saugus High School have partnered to introduce Career Pathways to students, with automotive technology the focus of the next panel on Friday, February 23.
Arroyo Seco, Saugus High Team for Career Pathways Panels
Los Angeles County's Interim Health Officer has issued a Cold Weather Alert for the Santa Clarita Valley through Wednesday night due to the National Weather Service’s forecast for wind chill temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cold Weather Alert Chills SCV Through Wednesday
1803 - Indian family members removed from Caamulus (Camulos) village, Piru area, are baptized at San Fernando Mission [record]
1955 - Actor and nightclub owner Ace Cain incorporates the Rocky Springs Country Club in Sand Canyon [story]
1949 - Short-lived oil drilling operation on Newhall's Arcadia Street ends [story]
The next meeting of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is set for Tuesday, February 20, starting at 1 p.m.
Feb. 20: LA County Board of Supervisors Meeting
Little, Brown Books recently published CalArts alum Vashti Harrison's (Film/Video MFA 14) debut illustrated book, "Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History."
Vashti Harrison Talks ‘Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History’
UCLA's Hammer Museum has announced the 32 artists including six CalArts alumni who will participate in "Made in L.A. 2018," the fourth edition of the museum's biennial exhibition, which runs June 3 to Sept. 2 at the Westwood museum.
6 CalArtians Among Artists Selected for ‘Made in L.A. 2018’
The Isaura String Quartet will present an evening of music by CalArtians at Human Resources LA in Downtown Los Angeles on Sunday, February 18 starting at 8 p.m.
Feb. 18: Isaura String Quartet to Perform at Human Resources LA
Two films directed by alumni of California Institute of the Arts' legendary Character Animation program, "Coco" and "The Boss Baby," are nominated for "Best Animated Feature" Academy Awards.
Oscar Buzz: Will 2018 Bring Oscar No. 11 to a CalArts Animator?
Crime Prevention deputies from the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station, assisted by Crime Impact Team deputies, conducted checks on probationers at six different locations on Thursday but made no arrests.
SCV Deputies’ Latest Probation Check Nets No Arrests
Artist Bob Hernandez will give a charcoal/pastel inspirational talk at the Monday, Feb. 19 meeting of the Santa Clarita Artists Association at Barnes & Noble in Valencia starting at 6:30 p.m.
Feb. 19: Bob Hernandez Charcoal, Pastel Demo at Barnes and Noble
U.S. Air Force Airman Taylor M. Lingscheit has graduated from basic military training at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, San Antonio, Texas.
West Ranch Alum Taylor Lingscheit Graduates USAF Basic Training
The city of Santa Clarita, County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, the Hart District and the Los Angeles Conservation Corps celebrated the growth and continued success of the school district’s recycling program with a media event at Valencia High School Thursday.
Santa Clarita, LA County Celebrate School Recycling Push
The Master's University women's basketball team hopes it finds its offensive mojo by Saturday evening when it takes on No. 4 Westmont College in Santa Barbara.
Master’s Seeks Offensive Mojo Ahead of Westmont Showdown