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AUSTIN (AP) – A national atheist group has filed a federal lawsuit after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in December ordered a mock Nativity display to be removed from the Capitol.

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The Austin American-Statesman reports the Freedom From Religion Foundation filed the lawsuit Thursday in Austin. It accuses Abbott of engaging in improper censorship and violating its First Amendment rights.

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The holiday display approved by the State Preservation Board showed Benjamin Franklin, the Statue of Liberty, Thomas Jefferson and George Washington peering down at the Bill of Rights in a manger. The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation says the exhibit was intended to celebrate the ratification of the Bill of Rights and mark the winter solstice.

Abbott called it a spiteful message of “tasteless sarcasm.” An Abbott spokesman says the lawsuit is baseless.

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