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Judges Rule Edmond's Seal Unconstitutional

Robert E. Boczkiewicz, Bobby Ross Jr. Published: October 18, 1995

They said the main issue was whether the seal violated the Constitution by advancing religion, or conveying "the message that religion or a particular religious belief is favored or preferred. " They concluded the seal violates the First Amendment, which restricts establishment of religion by government.

The court noted that Tuesday's ruling was similar to rulings it and other courts have made in cases in Bernalillo County, N.M., St. George, Utah, and other cities.

Judge Stephen H. Anderson foreshadowed the ruling during oral arguments last month in Tulsa, noting the court had deemed the New Mexico cross "a blatant advancement of religion. " "This is a victory for religious neutrality," Salem said.

"We're only asking the city of Edmond to maintain neutrality ," he said.

Edmond City Attorney Steve Murdock, City Manager Leonard Martin and Councilman Gary Moore all reserved comment .

Councilman Steve Knox joked that the cross could be replaced " with a 'T' or two pieces of crossed wood. " Knox said he was surprised the city prevailed in the original suit, so he was "not too surprised that we've been turned down. " Former Mayor Randel Shadid said the city made a strong defense of the seal.

"I think it's a good case to have resolved before the Supreme Court," Shadid said.

Knox said the council would ask for public comment before deciding whether to appeal.

Don Vinzant, an associate minister of the Edmond Church of Christ and an associate professor of Bible at Oklahoma Christian University of Science and Arts, called the ruling absurd.

"I think it almost smacks of revisionist history in trying to be politically correct," Vinzant said. "The court maybe has bowed to ACLU pressure, which in the long term may be seen to be ludicrous. " Edmond has used the seal on city vehicles, utility bills, city workers' uniforms and other places since 1965.

The city had argued the seal is permissible because: It symbolizes Edmond's "history and heritage. " "The majority of people in Edmond ... do not view the seal as endorsing religion. " "Secular aspects of the seal neutralize any religious message conveyed by the cross. " BIOG: NAME:

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