Tijeras, New Mexico (pop. 474) v. ACLU (400,000 members and supporters)

David didn't have such a task. He only faced a Goliath who is believed to be no larger than 10 times bigger than he was at the time (using weight as the measure). The small city of Tijeras, New Mexico is being forced to take on an organization 1000 times larger than itself, and certainly with resources to match. Why? Because of a small cross on the City Logo.

U.S. News and World Report editorial writer John Leo, in his essay entitled "Deviled Eggs" opines on the potential suit:

The "tiny cross" people at the American Civil Liberties Union are at it again. These are the folks with extra-keen eyes and powerful magnifying glasses, who examine the official seals of towns and counties, looking for miniature crosses that ACLU lawyers like to trumpet as grave threats to separation of church and state.

This time around, the folks with the magnifying glasses are leaning on the village of Tijeras, New Mexico, whose seal contains a Conquistador’s helmet and sword, a scroll, a desert plant, a fairly large religious symbol (the native American zia) and a quite small Christian cross. "Tiny cross" inspectors are not permitted to fret about large non-Christian religious symbols, only undersized Christian ones, so the ACLU filed suit to get the cross removed.

The cross is obviously not an endorsement of religion, any more than the Conquistador helmet and sword are endorsements of Spanish warfare. The courts have ruled, not always consistently, that crosses, as historic references in such seals and logos, are permissible. But the ACLU, these days, is strongly committed to seeing church-state crises everywhere, and thus pushes things way too far.

Last year the ACLU demanded that Los Angeles County eliminate from its seal a microscopic cross representing the missions that settled the state of California. Under threat of expensive litigation, the county complied. The cross was about one-sixth the size, of a not-very-big image, of a cow tucked away on the lower right segment of the seal, and maybe one one-hundredth the size of a pagan god (Pomona, Goddess of Fruit) who dominated the seal. Pomona survived the religious purge. She is not the sort of god that the ACLU worries about, whereas the flyspeck-sized cross was a threat to unravel separation of church and state, as we know it.

I am hopeful that little Tijeras will not act like the Israelite armies acted in 1 Samuel 17 when they saw Goliath ("When all the men of Israel saw the man, they fled from him and were greatly afraid"), but will act like David and stand up to the ugly giant who cursed the God of Israel in the names of his own false gods.


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