County fights to retain cross on seal
Lehigh County Commissioners Oct. 25 voted 7-1 to retain the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, of Washington, D.C., as special counsel to represent the county in its appeal to retain the Christian or Latin cross in the Lehigh County seal and flag.
Minutes from a December 1944 Lehigh County Commissioners meeting make the meaning the cross clear: “Underneath same and in center of Shield [Seal] appears the huge cross in canary-yellow signifying Christianity and the God-fearing people which are the foundation and backbone of our county.”
The 1944 minutes also give design credit for the seal to “County Commissioner Hertzog.”
The appeal will be to the United States Court of Appeal of the Third Circuit in Philadelphia.
Commissioner David Brown, who at a previous meeting had voted against appealing the case, voted to retain the free services of the Washington, D.C. based law firm.
Brown explained his seemingly contradictory vote by saying in an interview that while he remains opposed to an appeal, since the commissioners were pursuing that path it was his “legislative duty” to support the best possible legal option to defend the county.
Commissioner Dan Hartzell who had also voted last meeting against appealing the case cast the lone vote against retaining the Becket Fund to represent the County. He said he believes the effort is a waste of money. While the Becket Fund representation is free, he thought there would be other expenses Lehigh County would have to pay if the appeal is lost.
According to its website, “Becket is a nonprofit, public interest legal and educational institution. We are the leaders in the fight for religious liberty and the only law firm that defends all religious beliefs. Our mission is to protect the expression of all faiths, from A to Z – Anglican to Zoroastrian.”
A representative of the Becket Fund did not return a call requesting an interview.
In other business, Thomas L. Getting and Scott C. Bieber were reappointed to the Sterling Raber Agricultural Land Preservation Board.
At the citizen’s input session, Fred Sorrick, outreach coordinator of the Child Evangelism Fellowship, expressed support of the commissioner’s decision to appeal the County Seal case. “I support your stand of keeping the cross in the County Seal,” Sorrick said.
In a later interview, Sorrick said part of CEF’s mission is to meet kids in the 5 – 14 age group — “the most influential [sic] age.” He declined to name the school or schools where CEF has meetings.
The Child Evangelism Fellowship, according to the organization’s website is “a Bible-centered organization composed of born-again believers whose purpose is to evangelize boys and girls with the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and to establish (disciple) them in the Word of God and in a local church for Christian living.”