Atheists Want Banner At East Texas Holiday Display

ATHENS (AP) – A national atheist foundation plans to seek permission to hoist its own banner to join secular and religious Christmas displays on an East Texas courthouse square.

The display surrounding the Henderson County Courthouse in Athens includes a traditional Nativity scene, as well as multiple Santa Clauses, elves, wreathes, garland, trumpeters, dwarfs, snowmen, reindeer and Christmas trees, the Athens Daily Review reported.

“We’ve got an array of decorations and feel that we are in compliance with federal law,” County Judge Richard Sanders told the newspaper. “We’re not pushing any religious down anybody’s throat. These are holiday decorations we enjoy.”

However, county officials received a letter Monday from the Madison, Wis.-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, which argued the seasonal display on courthouse grounds amounts to an unconstitutional endorsement of the Christian faith.

Foundation attorney Stephanie Schmitt says that since the county allows the nonprofit group Keep Athens Beautiful to erect the displays on the town square, they amount to a “public forum.” Schmitt told the newspaper the group would ask to put up its own display.

Schmitt said the foundation had received 20 to 25 complaints this holiday season of religious displays it regards as illegal.

In Elmwood City, Pa., the foundation has proposed hoisting a banner that reads: “At this season of the Winter Solstice, LET REASON PREVAIL. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”

Meanwhile, Henderson County Sheriff Ray Nutt said his office received a report Thursday that someone had defaced some of the figures in the display, but the markings were later removed.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


One Comment

  1. Gumby Rules says:

    If you know anything about FFRF and their tactics and are opposed to them and want to aid the city of Athens you can contact The American Center for Law and Justice at: Jay Sekulow and crew are very familiar with batteling FFRF.

    1. YRofTexas says:

      Gumby is RIGHT on! Jay has been fighting for religious freedom for many years. Atheists are corrupt to the core, and hate anything that gives the human spirit a lift and a reason for living. Worshiping the creation rather than the Creator is an oxy moron concept.

      PS – What they want stated on their banner is slandering the “visual message” of the Christian faith. There are no pushed verbiage through a manger scene. No defamation of others. Christianity is a message of hope and love. Such hypocrites!

      1. Nonya says:

        I think it’s funny that the FFRF doesn’t seem to understand that the Constitution protects our freedom OF religion, not freedom FROM religion.

      2. NoOneKnows says:

        Hope and love if you believe in it. Otherwise look at the comments on this thread to see how loving and hopeful your faith is. We all burn in hell according to Christians. You only love your own kind, and anyone of any differing opinion is only worth fodder for hellfire.

        Our country was founded on SEPERATION of CHURCH and STATE. Period. You have your faith on every corner in America, why must you display it at the courthouse too?

  2. sam warren says:

    let them hang it up in hell. that is where they will end up!!!

  3. GoCrucifyYourself says:

    Atheist are forced to indulge this make believe, non-sense on a daily basis and you cant take a few days of having your black magic challenged? Ive got an idea. Pray for god to strike the banner with lightning.

  4. its me says:

    If someone has the right to display a manger scene then everybody else deserves the same right to display what they want. End of discussion. This is America. You folks might want to google it and learn what this country is all about.

    1. teri says:

      Think you are the one that needs to google as to how this country got started.

      1. Snow says:

        Teri….perhaps that is the problem, you believe you have figured out this country from Google. It is laughable, however, this is the mentality we must answer to or else risk your intolerance and hate taking over.

        Your “tit for tat” mentality is juvenile, destructive and most of all irrational. I can think of 100’s of examples where…”if you do this, I can do that” rules would have dire conclusions. You see, we are not without a brain, my God gifted me that and you as well, some take advantage of the gift, some do not. We must, as human’s, cast our judgement onto situations. We can not as a society allow evil over good….and that is in all forms. But, I sorta digress, because what I wanted to say is….that is an extremist remark, “If someone has the right to display a manger scene then everybody else deserves the same right to display what they want.”
        Since when has that been a wise statement…..can you think of anything that someone could display that would be vulgar or innappropiate? I fear you might say no….well that is a problem. But, I can think of many things in this world that SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED on a courthouse lawn or in a person’s front yard. On the other hand, I can not think of too many things that should not be allowed privately, in your own home, church or mind…..but that stuff should stay there….not out where my kids must be subjected to it. Thank goodness that logic and reason prevail most of the time in this country.

        I am certain my question and statements will be met with further illogic….consider them trashed, if so.

    2. Mike Jones says:

      i 2nd date “it’s me” this country was built on freedom of religion and ONE GOD, want more proof huh? look at your wallet it’s in all your money dubass so what your gonna go get sue the goverment to post your own message on the dollar bill? gtfo

    3. NoOneKnows says:

      Here Here. Too much church education and not enough actual history. I wonder how many of these commenters realize when we added ‘In God We Trust’ to money? (The early 1950’s)

      No matter your faith (or non-faith) Seperation of Church and State.

  5. R.L. says:

    Why does a group out of Madison,Wis., care what is going on in East Texas? (Yes I know they are a national group) And out of all the millions of people who are atheist and not atheist, they have only received 20-25 complaints about certain Christmas decorations. It seems like most people could care less if Christmas decorations are on display. Other religious groups don’t complain about them, and most people wether they believe in the reason behind Christmas, still celebrate it. You should then tell everyone to stop celebrating it all together. These are the decorations that have been used for a very long time and it’s on in this century that everyone has to start complaining about it.

  6. Snow says:

    “its me” so if I donate a sculpture or piece of art to the public library to be displayed on the front lawn… believe that your donation of a toilet full of excrement and the image of a man has the same justification and place in the public eye? The sad realization is….you probably do. People that have not developed their mind past a 5th grader’s should really keep their “thoughts” to themselves.

    “GoCrucifyYourself” I am a Christian. Your remark is typical of the vehement mantra that spews from your lot and is sooo full of contradiction.

    How is it that a nativity scene, elves, santa claus, etc VS a banner stating, “At this season of the Winter Solstice, LET REASON PREVAIL. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”
    of equal reaction.

    It is hypocrisy of the highest order that activist accuse other people of the very thing they do to levels 10x their own. Your extreme manner and tactics of hate and intolerance towards Christians (anybody that disagrees with you) is hypocritical and you should quietly examine your motives instead of writing unreasonable, illogical and non compos mentis remarks in public.

    1. GoCrucifyYourself says:

      It’s not just Christians. Musilims, Jews, Satanists, etc are all equallly insane in my eyes. Your absolutely right though. The atheist majority in this country should be glad that we never have to have religion shoved down out throats in our communities, schools, public institutions, currency and the obscene mega churches that are only outnumbered by starbucks coffee shops. Please feed yourself to a lion.

      1. Nonya says:

        Athiesm, the religion of non-belief.

      2. Snow says:

        I don’t know, but it sounds more like you are a robot, then a human. Do you like ANYTHING or ANYONE that has a different philosophy, faith, family, origin….then you do?

        Just to make sure I am not writing to a computer…..what do you like in this country or the world?

        You are indeed justifying my thought that really you activist have a deep seeded hateful and physcotic nature. Please tell me what you do like.

      3. GoCrucifyYourself says:

        Im an activist because I am posting my opinion on this site? I like science, math, natural order. I just looked at a poster that depicted the evolution of man that put a huge grin on my face. I like reading from stacks of books that give me perspective and not limiting myself to a supposed “holy” book that is just as plausible as an x-men comic. Submission to gods and religious authority is what is robotic. I know, tolerate and love many people who are religious. Ask any longtime atheist or agnostic about this and they will agree. They have no choice because it is everywhere.

      4. Snow says:

        This is the first post that you have not wished death onto me. I too like natural order, math, science….but the only one of those studies that can hold an “absolute truth” is math. However, my appreciation for those topics do not bring me joy…..and I follow a yearning beyond those worldly acceptances. I can NOT deny my faith in Christ and his work. As deep rooted as your disbelief and lack of faith are….mine are equal, probably deeper because I believe in something you can not see…..anyway, I can go on and on. But, the subject here is really a legal one. Whether or not a nativity scene is dispalyed will not affect my faith an iota; however, if the intollerance and hate filled totalitarians prevail, it could affect my life and I deserve to live my life how I believe. The fact of the matter is….the angry and suggestive banner is offensive to the meaning of the whole holiday and is innappropriate. The same as those proclaimed Christians that disrupt soldiers funerals by shouting their hateful dogma. You should be allowed your say, but just for the spite of it….I don’t think so….put your banner up after Christmas. Put it up before Christmas, don’t do it in a hateful fit of spite….it is just not right and children’s malicious actions should not be tolerated. Your freedom is not being denied, you can have 50,000 atheist gatherings and building and whatever you desire….I DON”T CARE and you have the right. It would seem you want to punish people because not enough feel like you….that is just too bad. The lack of not having a big following does not entitle you to be distasteful, rude, inappropriate, intolerant, hateful and condemning……society, decency and rule of law dictate that we are better then that.

      5. GoCrucifyYourself says:

        Once again. I am not hanging any banners. I am not an activist. I have nothing to do with these people I’m sure if the scene was at an individuals house and not a publc institution. they probably would not care either. Math is the only study that can hold an absolute truth at all, but I will take theories that have been developed by science over religious dogma any day. You are probably right about me being intolerant. Try being a non believer for the majority of your life and surrounded by religious zealots and see how you handle it. Behaving with Ghandi-like, serenity becomes difficult in all situations.

  7. Joe says:

    Let the atheists burn in hell. I have a feeling if they start trying to tell the people of Henderson County what to do and not do they will be put in their place, in hell. There are good people in Henderson County who won’t put up with them.

  8. Jeff D Johnson says:

    I find it ironic that this group only goes after others during religious holidays. They don’t seem to have a problem with the government printing money with “In God We Trust” on it. Maybe they should stop accepting money if they truly think that is unconstitutional. But I also find it disturbing that those defending the county and calling themselves Christians are telling other to go to and burn in Hell. That is not the message Christ gave us to show others. We as Christians are supposed to share God’s love by our actions and words.

    1. NoOneKnows says:

      Yes, they do have a problem with that. “In God We Trust” was not added to our money until the 1950’s. We are not a christian nation, or any other religion. America is a cultural melting pot. If there was a scene depicting the Budhist faith or Muslim faith would you be okay with that? No religion on government property, period. We all pay for that space and no one religion should be depticted there. If your ‘faith’ is so weak that you have to have a plastic manger scene (for a time when the historical Jesus was not even born, remember that Julius Ceasar decided when we celebrate that birth, not the bible) then maybe you should rethink your ideals.

      1. Jeff D Johnson says:

        Then why don’t they start a huge media campaign to change the money back? And I have no problem with Muslim or Budhist faith. But Christmas was set as a holiday to celebrate a specific event. Most people know that Dec. 25 is not the actual birthdate of Christ. It is still an observance of that event. And let me ask you this. Do you ahve a problem with Santa Claus being displayed on government property?

      2. NoOneKnows says:

        @Jeff D Johnson There have been campains against that slogan on money for a long while. Change starts in small steps when you are fighting the mega-machine of religion in america. I would have an issue with Santa displayed at a government location if that was a religion. FFRF does not only ‘go after’ religion on the holidays, feel free to look up their activity. They are defending EVERYONE’S right to equal representation. As you can see, people of no faith are DESPISED in America (even though many of us were soldiers (myself included), give to the community and are generally helpful and friendly people) As I said, there is a church on every corner. Christians have plenty of representation here, keep it off the government property

    2. Ms. M says:

      We are also only human and mortals at that so we don’t often act Christ-like. Especially when someone or a group like FFRF is trying to tell us that our beliefs are wrong.

      1. NoOneKnows says:

        No, they are not. They are saying that we are all entitled to our own beliefs and we are all entitled to equal representation. If there were no religious display they would not ask for representation as well. You have churches for your beliefs. They are simply saying that if there is going to be a relgious display that non-believers have just as much right to their own display

  9. Proud American says:

    Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. it has become aday that is only about profits. why don’t we forget the gift giving and get back to celebrating Christ birth. If you don’t beleive in Christ thats fine, you don’t have to participate

    1. NoOneKnows says:

      Yes, but that does not belong on public government property. There is a church on every corner in this country. Religion of any kind does not belong on public property. (Also, Christmas was originaly a pagan holiday including the decorating of a tree indoors. Julius Ceasar decided we would cover up that holiday with the religious celebration of Christ)

  10. its me says:

    @Joe: “Let the atheists burn in hell”- that’s a very, very Christian comment to make. Or as @Snow would say ” is typical of the vehement mantra that spews from your lot and is sooo full of contradiction”. And as far as @Proud American, christmas is not a celebration of the birth of jesus. Jesus’ birthday is nowhere near december 25th. What christmas is ia a pagan holiday that christians decided to take over for their own purposes. And here I thought the bible said something about “thou shalt not steal”? Apparently holidays are exempt.

    1. Snow says:

      I can not begin to explain a religion that is so complex as Christianity to you…and I must say, most self proclaimed Christians do not have a clue. But, I will set you straight on a silly little comment that many of the non Christians make all the time….”oh that’s real Christian………..” as long as they are quoting God’s word and it is in the correct context….what they are saying is not a bearing on them and they do not have to answer to it. Your snipe at “let them burn in hell” in from God, not Joe….and it is in context. It is clear that God will punish the faithless and those who do not know him by casting them into hell. Joe was just the messenger and in this case right. Nonetheless, God tells us to not make such “judgements” in anger…..the very person you are judging may be his child, not yet reborn……so you have to wonder about people that so freely quote (intent) then tarnish the quote with a very human nature.

      1. HMM? says:

        Most atheists know a good deal about religion in general and Christianity. How do you think many of them came to the conclusion to question it and eventually reject it completely?

  11. Joe says:

    I suspect a Muslim holiday would be acceptable to that group. I’ve never heard of anyone opposing a Muslim event.

  12. Ms. M says:

    It is my religious right to believe in Christ and Christmas AND it is my religious right to tell the FFRF to go to h.e.l.l. and to stick their banner where the sun don’t shine!

    1. GoCrucifyYourself says:

      Do you understand your rights? It is your religious right to believe in Christ. It is your right to freedom of speech that lets you tell the FFRF to go to hell and stick their banner where the sun don’t shine and mine to refer to you from here on out as sling blade.

  13. Barbara says:

    15% of adult Americans describe themselves as Atheist, Agnostic or simply having no particular religious beliefs whatsoever. FIFTEEN PERCENT. I suspect the number is actually much higher but the consequences of admitting non-religious views opens oneself up to vitriolic ridicule so finely represented by the comments above that most keep it “in the closet”. Those of us who do not believe in God do so because we see no reason to. Some of us even see the harm in religion and choose to stand up against its intrusion into our lives. We don’t want it in our government. We don’t want it in our publicly funded schools. We don’t want it forced on us and we certainly don’t want our tax dollars to support it. The anger some of you feel when confronted with our views is exactly how we feel when confronted with yours.

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof….” This means you can believe (or not believe) whatever you want in this country.

    1. NoOneKnows says:

      Very well said, this is such an issue in our country.

  14. its me says:

    Snow, I don’t particularly care what your particular god (or any of the dozens of others) has to say but I can certainly tell you that “Let the atheists burn in hell” isn’t something I picture jesus saying, regardless of intent or content, and your defending it just shows that you “can not(sic) explain a religion as complex as Christianty” because you apparently don’t understand it yourself. I think we all know that religion is a crock, it’s just that some of us are willing to admit it while others pretend like they believe but in no way, shape or form manifest the core beliefs they so publicly and wantonly profess their dedication to. I say If you’re going to say your a christian then act the way jesus would have wanted or STHU about how you’re a christian because you prove through your actions that you’re not. It’s really that simple.

  15. Jeff D Johnson says:

    NoOneKnows, Santa Claus IS a religious figure if you know history. The character of Santa Clause, as portrayed in Clement Moore’s \Twas the Night Before Christmas, is based on Saint Nicholas. A man who dedicated his life to giving to the poor. Also, you say this group does oppose the phrase on ,money, then okay. I have not heard of any movement by them to do this and I track politics as a hobby. My biggest problem here is that Christmas was set aside as an observance of a religious event by a Roman emperor to give the Christians of the time a celebration. It was not “the Christians” who took over a festival. Christmas has always been a religious holiday. And before anyone starts quoting separation of church and state, the constitution does not say that. The First Amendment prohibits the government from forming a state religion or church much like the Church of England.

  16. WeArentAllLikeYou says:

    I wonder what they set up for display when Ramadan starts…???

    1. HMM? says:

      Ohhhh! Thats below the belt. We are having a religious discussion here, therefore logic and reason have no place.

  17. Elle says:

    I’m an agnostic individual who tends towards more pagan beliefs but I LOVE seeing holiday decorations of all faiths this time of year. I see no harm in someone wishing me a Merry Christmas or putting a nativity scene on their property. These Atheist groups are taking it too far. Lighten up for ‘nothings’ sake, take that energy and go volunteer at your local youth shelter or spend a day shopping with a foster kid. THAT would be more useful than putting up a banner somewhere to burst some little kids Christmas, Hanukkah, Kawanza or whatever bubble.

  18. darrell says:

    you can have your banner if we can erect a nativity scene in the lobby of your national headquarters with a banner that reads: “Non-Believers Shall Burn in Hell”.

  19. getaclue says:

    Darrell…you are speaking of an imaginary place. Is that supposed to make you feel better? Saying that to an Atheist is like telling him that he is going to drown for eternity in Atlantis. pointless. This is why your so stupid.

    1. darrell says:

      go phuch yourself

  20. its me says:

    darrell, you mad bro? I guess the truth really does hurt.

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