110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
By Al Everson
posted Sep 23, 2013 - 12:20:28pm
A prominent religious-rights group has offered to help DeLand defend its time-honored city seal.
Liberty Counsel, a nonprofit law firm based in Orlando, has offered DeLand officials "pro bono counsel and assistance," in a challenge to the seal.
"We sent a letter to the mayor of DeLand, rebutting the unfounded letter from Americans United for the Separation of Church and State," Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, told The Beacon. "We will be available."
In August, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State demanded that DeLand drop the 131-year-old seal or face a possible lawsuit to force a change — a move Staver characterized as "bullying."
AU alleges the seal — with a cross, anchor and heart denoting faith, hope and love — violates the First Amendment guarantee against the establishment of religion. AU thus far has not named the local person or persons who allegedly complained that the seal violates the U.S. Constitution.
DeLand's founders adopted the seal in 1882. Mayor Robert Apgar said he sees no willingness to scrap the long-standing symbol.
"There is no sense I have that the City Commission will change the seal," Apgar said.
Staver said there is no reason for DeLand to accede to AU's demand.
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