IFAS | Freedom Writer | July/August 1999 | fish.html

Fish symbol stinks

Springfield, Missouri Federal Judge Russell G. Clark ruled that a fish symbol on the city of Republic seal is unconstitutional. The city seal, adopted in 1990, included a fish to symbolize the city's Christian morals. The fish is an ancient Christian symbol dating back to Roman times.

"The portrayal of the fish impermissibly excludes other religious beliefs or nonbeliefs and intended or not depicts Christianity as the religion recognized and endorsed by the residents of Republic," Clark wrote. "The Republic city seal pervasively invades the daily lives of non-Christians and sends a message that they are outsiders. The Constitution forbids such a result."

Jean Webb, a Wiccan, sued the city because the fish symbol alienated minority religions such as hers, whose worship is based on nature. Her attorney, Doug Bonney, said, "This upholds the precept of the First Amendment because you cannot do anything officially that condones a Christian religion that alienates the minority."

City officials suggested that they would appeal the ruling.

© 1999 Institute for First Amendment Studies, Inc.