The official emblem of the city of Las Cruces, New Mexico, is adorned with three crosses. A federal lawsuit alleges the crosses, which are religious symbols, are unconstitutional because they appear on public property. “The crosses serve no governmental purpose other than to disenfranchise and discredit non-Christian citizens,” said the lawsuit filed by Paul F. Weinbaum, a member of the recently formed local chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, who lives in the Las Cruces area, and Martin J. Boyd of Las Cruces. For those not familiar with Spanish, “Las Cruces” means “the crosses.” So it seems rather appropriate that crosses would appear on an emblem that describes the city’s name. In his book Las Cruces New Mexico, 1849–1999: Multicultural Crossroads, author Gordon Owen cited several stories about travelers in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries who were attacked and killed near the Rio Grande. The crosses marking their graves led city founders to adopt the name.
If the presence of three crosses on a city seal is constitutionally suspect, then the city’s name should be changed as well. And let’s not stop with Las Cruces. Santa Fe, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Bethel (“house of God”), Corpus Christi (“body of Christ”), St. Louis, Providence, Bethlehem (“house of bread,” the city where Jesus was born), and so many others should have to change. San Francisco, St. Paul, Santa Barbara, and San Diego are Catholic Saints. Parishes of Louisiana have names like Assumption, Ascension, and St. John the Baptist. A county in Illinois is named Christian.
Then there are all fifty state constitutions that make reference to God or providence in their preambles. Let’s not forget the Declaration of Independence and its insistence that rights are an endowment of the Creator. The Constitution itself references Jesus Christ in its closing statement: “DONE in the year of our Lord. . . .”
The religious censors have been hard at work trying to remove every vestige of religion from American life.
- The city seal of Los Angeles was changed because it contained a small cross in one of its seven panels.
- The town of Oak Park, Illinois, blocked a private Catholic hospital from erecting a cross on its own smokestack because, city councilors say, some local residents would be offended.
- The Federal appeals court in Chicago declared that the city seal of Zion, Illinois, was unconstitutional. The seal displays the design Zion’s evangelical founder selected, a banner with the words “God Reigns” surrounded by images of a dove, a cross, a sword, and a crown.
- In Idaho, the ACLU sued to remove religious references from public monuments and memorials.
The day may come when America, as an officially atheistic nation, decides to be consistent with its anti-God dogmatism perpetrated by dishonest lawyers in the name of the mythical “separation of church and state” dogma. If this ever happens, the restraining moral worldview of Christianity will no longer be around to stop tyrants who seek power for power’s sake. Not even atheists will be safe.