Redlands has measure on the ballot this November to preserve freedom. But there’s also a measure to codify a new city seal.
As it happens to be, the city “seal” (which was never codified by the voters as a seal, so really it’s more of a logo the city council liked in the 60’s) used to have a Christian Cross in the lower right quadrant. The ACLU intervened, as I understand that it has in other cities, to have the cross removed. This naturally got some feathers ruffled in a city with an extraordinarily high per capita of churches (how many actually attend is another matter).
So, the cross was painted over on city vehicles and a legal approach is now underway to restore the cross to its quadrant. The argument is, apparently, not about religion but about history and freedom. Apparently, the ACLU is impinging on each of our personal freedoms by having the cross removed from the logo. In a way, both sides are right on this. We should have the freedom to have the cross on our logo just as much as we have the freedom to not. The thing is that we actually do have that freedom without this measure. It’s just that the cross isn’t on the logo right now. We have the power of the people to enact this measure and fight to the bitter end for some yellow paint on a blue field.
The other argument is historical, arguing that religion has played a large role in the history of Redlands and so the cross is part of our heritage. Well, not quite, actually. While “mainstream” Christianity has an undeniable role in the local (not to mention national) heritage, everything that I have been told about Redlands history is that Latter Day Saints were sent here and first settled and formed a city/town. So really, we should have the image or Moroni on the logo since Redlands probably would not be here if not for these faithful folk.
But why stop there? The Native Americans played a significant role in the history of this area long before we got here, so we should find out what religious imagery they used and put that on the logo as well. It’s getting kind of crowded now.
What about Islam and Judaism? I know there are people of those faiths here and no doubt have greatly influenced our city’s history. Why should they be excluded? So, let’s get the Crescent Moon and Star of David up there, too. We might need to use other quadrants for this now…
Oh yeah, and Hindu and Buddhist beliefs. I confess that I don’t know what image best goes with those or if they played a role in the history of Redlands. But they probably will soon enough, so we might as well include them now. I think we’re just going to have to erase the other three quadrants to make room. We’ll leave one entirely empty for those who claim Atheism and fill the rest with the religious influences on our heritage, past, present, and future.
To be honest, I don’t even know what’s in the other quadrants now, but I’m sure they aren’t that important. After all, this measure is about our freedom to express the life of our community in a symbol of our town.