FFRF banner question must go before commissioners

Posted by : admin | On : December 12, 2011

By Michael V. Hannigan
The News Staff

Like shadow footprints laid out on a floor, the next steps in the legal dance between the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) and Henderson County government seem to be in place, and they lead directly to Commissioners’ Court.

The FFRF is the Wisconsin-based organization that demanded the county remove a nativity scene from the Christmas decorations on the courthouse lawn last week. The reaction that followed caught the attention of national media, pushing First Baptist Church of Malakoff Pastor Dr. Nathan Lorick and County Judge Richard Sanders on to the Fox News Channel.

Late last week, the legal focus shifted away from removing the nativity to allowing the FFRF to place one of its banners on the courthouse lawn. The request is based on the idea of “public forum,” said FFRF Co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor.

In a press release, the FFRF said: “The county has created a de facto public forum by allowing a private group to erect this display year after year on government property.”

The FFRF says it has “a local resident who has offered to put the display up on behalf of our county members.”

The banner 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 & superstition that hardens hearts & enslaves minds.”

County Attorney Cint Davis confirmed the FFRF has asked the county for the procedure it needs to follow to get the banner displayed. Davis said the county plans on advising the FFRF that it must come before Commissioners’ Court to make its request, which is how the current decorations wound up on the lawn.

Because this week’s Commissioners’ Court agenda is already posted, the earliest the FFRF could appear before the court is next Tuesday, Dec. 20.

There is no mention of the nativity scene issue on this week’s agenda (Dec. 13). County Judge Richard Sanders said there was no reason for it to be on the agenda.

“We’ve already said we believe we are in compliance with federal law,” he said Monday morning.

Comments (29)

  1. […] demanded the county remove the nativity. The group later shifted its focus to getting an atheist banner displayed alongside the nativity, an effort that is expected to continue in […]

  2. FRANK A. EDDY SR. said on 17-12-2011


  3. Kay Reed said on 16-12-2011

    ……Father forgive them for they know not what they do

  4. Tiffany said on 16-12-2011

    I don’t understand why just the nativity scene is under fire, if people actually research Santa Claus, he was a Saint, a CHRISTIAN and he always gave to the needy … he really isn’t a fictional character we’ve just made up, we made a character to reflect him and his good doing.
    As far as the nativity scene being offensive or intimidating, I don’t see that. If it had a sign next to it saying “EVERYONE MUST BELIEVE IN CHRIST AND GOD” and had bright flashy lights, I could understand that being taken down. And the fact they wanted baby Jesus removed and the FFRF sign placed instead is insulting and THAT to me is threatening which I think is where some of everyone’s hostility is coming from. There are no signs up saying what to believe, there are just scenes from the past displayed. And for those who do not believe, just look at it as a fictional story book scene …. I don’t get mad seeing Frosty the snowman, lol.

  5. Ruth Walker said on 15-12-2011

    Clearly the FFRF banner should be displayed.

    We KNOW what Jesus would do. He was very clear in Matthew 6 that spreading one’s religion in public was wrong.

    If he’d had access to modern eduation, he might have been a read doctor, probably an atheist. Remember he cured only SOME of the lepers and did it by casting out demons. Guess he hadn’t invented bacteria yet, huh? (Think how many he could have cured if he’d known about the germ theory of disease and had antibiotics!)

  6. LORI said on 14-12-2011


    • Bill Dugan said on 14-12-2011

      That’s fine, but why does god hate Somalian children? 30,000 under the age of 5 dead from drought and famine this year. Was this because of their lack of access to the bible?

  7. ed-words said on 13-12-2011

    “…question with boldness even the existence of God.”

    Thomas Jefferson

  8. Sharon Brown said on 13-12-2011

    Folks, leave the shotguns out of this. This is NOT what this is about and you Henerson County people need to wake up see what it is all about. Please, ask yourself, what would Jesus do? Enough said!

    • charlette stevenson said on 13-12-2011

      Jesus would do what He did at the Temple during the gambling in the Temple…He would tear things up..He is a jealous God and nothing is to come before Him…that banner degrades and dismisses that there is even a God…it is anti-Christ………..

    • ed-words said on 13-12-2011

      What would Jesus do, Sharon?

      He’d send the atheists into eternal Hellfire. (If he could.)

  9. Jamie said on 13-12-2011

    These people need to see Christ’s love through us Christians. Yes it bothers me that this has occurred because of our lack of standing up for our beliefs. Being hostile towards this group is not the way to show them Christ’s love. My prayers for Dec. 17 is that this is what they will see. I pray that they will have no reason to say that we are hypocrits by our actions. God can change their hearts and that is what I’m praying for.

    • Michael V. Hannigan said on 13-12-2011

      Well said, Jamie

    • Bill Dugan said on 13-12-2011

      Hey folks, remember those founding fathers who declared our independence? In particular Thomas Jefferson who wrote the following to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802:

      “… I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”

      We’re a nation of many beliefs. Please feel free to express your religious beliefs on your property but DO NOT think you’re entitled to do so on government property.

      • David said on 13-12-2011

        Well sourced and well said Bill. The idea that the theocrats will give up is so well reflected it this blog. If we wonder why heretics were burned and
        drowned, just read all of your detractors here. They view our country though the harshness of our Puritan past as if they celebrated freedom of conscience.

        Thanks for attempting to right the ship.

    • Bill Dugan said on 13-12-2011


      “Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed by inserting “Jesus Christ,” so that it would read “A departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;” the insertion was rejected by the great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohammedan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination.”

      -Thomas Jefferson, Autobiography, in reference to the Virginia Act for Religious Freedom

  10. rabbi josiah said on 13-12-2011

    Shalom, Greetings from the State of Kansas, i can honestly say with great pride and with great comfort that i am a reborn Jew what i am about to say will deemed as a crackpot idea but here goes all or nothing, first your community must be on the attack legally speaking, second get with your county attorney Clint Davis to file charges against these Nazis. then file a FEDERAL SUIT using the following federal statutes to put a stop to these Nazis, now here are the statutes I would use 1) Title 18 USC § 241 through 249,2) federal patriot act of domestic terrorists, 3) civil and criminal RICO 4) mail fraud 5) wire fraud 6) extortion 7) blackmail etc. also your county attorney Mr. Davis could under the consumer fraud laws, and other state laws in Texas could LEGALLY FREEZE any assets that this ffrf has. just a few thoughts from a former military jag officer of over 10 yrs experience GO ATHENS

  11. […] The Malakoff News: Late last week, the legal focus shifted away from removing the nativity to allowing the FFRF to place one of its banners on the courthouse lawn. The request is based on the idea of “public forum,” said FFRF Co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor. […]

  12. Ryan said on 12-12-2011

    Somehow I don’t think the FFRF has thought their demonstration on the 17th and this banner through. I’m pretty sure they have yet to realize exactly what kind of people they’re dealing with here in the Bible Belt. Just because they can get away with the scare tactics up north by threatening to sue doesn’t mean they can get away with it here.

    I wonder if they know exactly how many “Good Ole’ Boys” around here own shotguns.

    • Michael V. Hannigan said on 12-12-2011

      The rally on the 17th is not by the FFRF. The rally is being organized by Henderson County pastors so that Christians can “come together in love, to unite and show the world the true spirit of Christ and Christmas.”

      You can check the Facebook event page here

    • Trevor said on 13-12-2011

      FFRF knows exactly what kind of people they’re dealing with, and face a deluge of hate mail and threats from people just like Ryan every day. The irony is lost on those people when they bring up shotguns or other threats, since part of FFRF’s argument is that when church and state get intertwined, it leads to division and even violence. Ryan and company just prove FFRF’s point.

    • CoCo said on 13-12-2011

      And wouldn’t the National Media LOVE to find the Texas Rednecks with their SHOTGUNS so they could push for Gun Control and other Socialistic

      • Sharon Brown said on 15-12-2011

        CoCo- just to let you know, being called a Texas Redneck is a compliment in Henderson County. Thank you :) I will take it.