LOS ANGELES (CBS/AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Southern California is challenging a decision by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to restore a cross to the county’s official seal.

In the lawsuit filed Thursday in federal court, the ACLU claims adding the religious symbol violates the constitutional guarantee of the separation of church and state.

“Government may not favor or endorse one religion over another,” ACLU General Counsel Mark Rosenbaum said at a news conference. “We are not a Christian nation, or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation. Rather, we are a nation where all religious beliefs are created equal.”

Supervisors voted 3-2 last month to put a cross atop the seal’s depiction of historic San Gabriel Mission, widely considered to be the birthplace of Los Angeles.

The original seal had a cross over the Hollywood Bowl but it was removed when the seal was redesigned in 2004 after the ACLU threatened legal action.

The latest redesigned seal went into effect on Friday.

“The San Gabriel Mission, if you look at it today, is exactly what is on the county seal,” said Tony Bell, spokesman for Supervisor Michael Antonovich, who voted in favor of the cross. “We are talking about ensuring that the seal has an accurate depiction of a mission.”

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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