None Dare Call Them Angels

June 10, 2004

Trevor Matich


This is no longer funny.  None Dare Call Them Redskins was funny; None Dare Call It Christmas was sort of funny.

But now, funny has left the building.  

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has caved in to the bullying of the ACLU to remove a small cross from the city seal.  

The cross is an historical reference to the role of Spanish missionaries in the founding of the city of Los Angeles.  The ACLU has decided that it is also an offensive symbol and a violation of the separation of church and state.  So they threatened to sue unless the cross was removed.

The Supervisors counted up their funds and figured that they couldn't afford a legal battle.  

Score one for the Anything-But-Christian crowd.  To illustrate, let's take a look at the offending seal, shall we?

The three panels on the left depict engineering instruments, a Spanish Galleon, and a tuna representing the fishing industry.  The three panels on the right depict oil derricks, the Hollywood Bowl and two stars representing the entertainment industry, a small cross representing the role of missions in Los Angeles' history, and a cow representing the livestock industry.

Front and center -- and dwarfing the other objects -- is Pomona, Roman goddess of gardens and fruit trees.  Goddess.  Pagan.  Religious symbol.  

The smallest object on the seal is the cross; the largest, by far, is the pagan goddess Pomona.  In their threatening letter to the Supervisors, the ACLU wrote that the cross was an "impermissible endorsement of Christianity."  Naturally, the Goddess of gardens and fruit trees isn't an impermissible endorsement of Roman mythology.  Nor is the cow a subliminal impermissible endorsement of Hinduism. 

What is happening here is an incremental setting of precedent -- the old Camel's Nose in the Tent Door trick.  Courts have banned Christian prayer in school -- even off-campus prior to school sporting events.  Courts have banned the depiction of nativity scenes in public venues.  A court ruled that the phrase "under God" must be deleted from the Pledge of Allegiance.  Another court banned the display of the Ten Commandments in an Alabama courthouse.

But the same CA court that ruled against Christian displays in school has ruled that teachers can require children to dress in Muslim clothing and recite Muslim prayers for an entire week.   That's a matter of history and multi-culturalism, we are told.

The ACLU has intimidated Los Angeles County into removing a small Christian symbol from its seal, but says nothing about the dominant feature of the seal, a Roman pagan goddess.  Think about that.

But wait!  The Constitution requires a clean separation between church and state.  Everyone knows that!  

Uh huh.  How about we look at exactly what the Constitution says about the separation between church and state.  It's in the First Amendment:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

That's it.  That's all it says.  It says nothing about separating church from state.  It says "Congress shall make no law" respecting a religion, or prohibiting the expression thereof.  Congress shall make no law.  

States can't adopt a "state religion" either (which is the only reason why California doesn't mandate the worship of Shirley Mclain).  But neither can they engage in "prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

So prayers at high school football games?  The Constitution only requires that Congress not make a law requiring or prohibiting it; it is up to the people in that community to decide.  

So crosses on a city seal?  The Constitution only requires that Congress not get involved by making a law, so it is up to the citizens of that city to decide their own manner of expression.

So why doesn't Los Angeles fight in court?  Too expensive, they say.

If this stands, then the logical next step is for the bitter loonies to continue to purge our culture of its "offensive" Christian history, leaving "unoffending" religions intact (which sort of has the effect of "prohibiting the free exercise thereof", don't you think?).

Take names of cities.  Los Angeles?  City of Angels.  That has to go the way of the cross on its seal.  Change it to Los Imbeciles -- City of Morons.

Santa Monica?  Saint George?  Santa Barbara?  No, no, and no.  "Santa"  refers to Catholic Saints (and besides, "Santa" Claus refers to that exclusionary holiday, Christmas).  How about renaming them Lewinsky Monica, Boy George, and Barbara Streisand?

But the city of Pomona seems just fine the way it is.  Lucky it's not Santa Pomona.

Most people think that the Constitution requires separation between church and state.  But that's not what it says.  (The reason why most people are misinformed is a most interesting topic for another day.)  Our Founding Fathers -- the framers of the Constitution -- clearly included prayer and references to God in their official actions.  

They wrote the First Amendment.  I don't think they misunderstood their own laws relative to church and state.  But misinformation in the popular culture leaves many of us misinformed.

Playing on that misinformation, reactionaries are systematically purging our history of Christian references.  

Said radio host Dennis Prager to the Los Imbeciles (oh, sorry, make that Los Angeles) County Supervisors:

“In the Soviet Union there was a joke,  a very powerful dissident joke...  They used to say in the Soviet Union, `The future is known; it’s the past which is always changing.’

“Totalitarianism is not possible, unless you erase the past. That is what you did."

What's happening here seems minor, but it is deadly serious.  I hope more people learn why, and be not cowed into losing their Angels.





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