Group wants DeLand to do away with cross symbol on city seal

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DELAND, Fla. —

The city of DeLand is under fire from a group that claims the 131-year-old city seal is too religious.

The group Americans United for the Separation of Church and State takes issue with the cross, which officials say helps represent the principles of faith, hope, and charity that the city was founded on.

One local historian said history should not be erased.

Over the past 131 years, DeLand has seen major changes, like people in cars instead of on horses and paved roads versus dirt.

Now the group, based out of Washington, D.C., wants the city to change its seal and says the seal symbolizes Christian theological virtues discussed in the Bible. The group specifically points to its anchor, the Latin cross, and heart.

Local historian Billy DeSilva believes the seal, which has been in use since 1882, should not change.

"You can't change history. History was made here and the town was made based on what Mr. DeLand and Mr. Stetson believed. They were very religious men, they were both Baptist," DeSilva said.

Henry DeLand and John Stetson were two of the city's founders.

DeSilva believes the symbols represent their values and more importantly, history.

"People believe in what Henry DeLand believed in, history. That's what it's all about."

The seal is plastered on buildings and vehicles across the city.

If the seal has to be changed, it might have to be changed everywhere else, which could mean serious time and expenses for the city.

The city has not responded to the group, but officials say they are taking the group's letter seriously.