A federal judge in California has ruled a tiny cross depicted in the Los Angeles County seal is unconstitutional.
County commissioners voted recently to add the cross to a depiction of the historic San Gabriel Mission, one of seven images on the county seal.
The commissioners reasoned it was more accurate that way, since it's an accurate depiction of the Catholic mission founded in the 1700s.
But it didn't take long for the ACLU to find an atheist who was offended by the cross and a judge ruled the cross "carries with it an aura of prestige, authority and approval."
Brad Dacus of the Pacific Justice Institute says he's grown tired of fighting these nuisance suits.
"Groups like the ACLU should not be allowed to intimidate local governments and communities," he says, "from accurately depicting their history and heritage."
The official website of Los Angeles county government explains that the mission, along with depicting a tuna and Pearlette the "championship cow," is important to the county's history.
"Mission San Gabriel, the first in Los Angeles County, represents the historic role of the missions in the settlement of the Los Angeles region," the website explains.
The judge's ruling is out of step with legal precedent, says Dacus, who predicts the decision will be overturned if it's appealed.
"State actions are not a violation of the establishment clause," he argues, "if there is indeed a valid, secular purpose, which is to recognize the history of California, and where the primary effect does not advance or hinder religion."