Criticized last year by Irv Sutley, a local atheist and activist, Rohnert Park in California will be dropping a religious town seal in favor of something that is not only secular, but also does more to represent what the local area is all about. The town council will also stop having prayers before every meeting.
The Press Democrat reports:
[T]he old seal blurred the line between church and state by depicting a six-pointed star that resembles the Star of David, along with a church and tiny cross. To avoid a lawsuit, city officials agreed to redesign the seal by the end of this year and stop using the old one by 2005. Council members also agreed to stop opening their meetings with a prayer invocation, another of Sutley’s objections.
Unlike a city logo, which can change every four or five years, cities register their official seal with the state. It’s stamped on City Council resolutions, contracts and municipal building plaques. The seal is on the patches of public safety officers’ uniforms and on the side of some vehicles.
All of this occurred with, apparently, little rancor and few problems. When people are willing to face up to the issues involved, there don’t need to be any drawn-out court cases or community conflict. It is possible for atheists to make a difference, ensuring that the separation of church and state is preserved.