Dec

19

Posted by : admin | On : December 19, 2011

By Michael V. Hannigan
The News Staff

The question of whether or not a Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) banner will be included in the annual Henderson County Christmas display may have been pushed back to next year, but that hasn’t stopped the rhetoric.

Friday, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott weighed in on the issue, promising “my support if the FFRF follows through on its threat to pursue legal action against Henderson County.”

Abbott’s declaration came in a letter to Henderson County Judge Richard Sanders.

The FFRF answered back Monday in a letter to Abbott signed by foundation co-presidents and husband and wife, Dan Taylor and Annie Laurie Gaylor.

“The imprimatur of the county of Henderson, and now the imprimatur of the Texas Attorney General’s Office, are being used to endorse Christianity,” the letter reads.

By now, the story is well known and

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Dec

16

Posted by : admin | On : December 16, 2011

By Michael V. Hannigan

ATHENS – The biggest event in Henderson County this Christmas might be the one nobody expected.

Christians of all denominations are being invited to the Courthouse Square in Athens this Saturday, Dec. 17, to “come together in love, to unite and show the world the true spirit of Christ and Christmas.”

The rally will run from noon-1 p.m. and will include Christmas carols, prayers, a few short speeches by area pastors, and patriotic songs.

There will also be a food drive to try and stock up the shelves of county food pantries before Christmas. Cans and other non-perishable food will be collected at the square.

The event, called the “Henderson County Nativity Rally,” came together

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Dec

16

Posted by : admin | On : December 16, 2011

By Michael V. Hannigan
The News Staff

There will be no banner from the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) on the Henderson County Courthouse lawn this year, a foundation attorney confirmed this morning.

But that does not mean the legal battle is over.

Attorney Stephanie Schmitt of the FFRF told The Malakoff News that Henderson County has outlined a procedure for requesting a display, and the procedure includes asking Commissioners’ Court. Because commissioners

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Dec

12

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

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Dec

09

Posted by : admin | On : December 9, 2011

Rep. Jim Pitts

By Michael V. Hannigan
The News Staff

District 10 State Rep. Jim Pitts today called the nativity scene on the Henderson County Courthouse lawn a “community tradition.”

“I’m disturbed that an out of state group has tried to interject itself into what has been an annual tradition at the Henderson County Courthouse for many years,” Pitts said. “That nativity scene is a holiday tradition for the entire community, and shouldn’t be used as a tool for some group to pursue an extreme agenda.”

Monday, Henderson County officials

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Dec

09

Posted by : admin | On : December 9, 2011

By Michael V. Hannigan
The News Staff

ATHENS – The message was clear Friday morning at a meeting that saw more than 70 Christian church leaders from across the county join to discuss holding a rally next week: We want to do this, but we want to do this right.

“This is not about defending a symbol of our faith, this is about defending our faith,” said pastor Nathan Lorick of FBC Malakoff.

“The reason is to unite believers for a spiritual awakening and rally,” he added.

Lorick is one of four pastors to initiate the rally movement.

The rally is scheduled for noon to 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17, on the west side

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Dec

08

Posted by : admin | On : December 8, 2011

By Michael V. Hannigan
The News Staff

ATHENS – The media and community response was swift after news broke that a group was trying to force Henderson County to remove its nativity scene.

So was the county’s answer.

Less than two days after receiving a letter from the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), which claims the nativity scene located on the courthouse lawn is illegal, County Attorney Clint Davis answered by writing, “Henderson County believes that it is in complete compliance with the requirements of the Constitution and acting very much in accord with prior U.S. Supreme Court rulings.”

The letter from Davis is dated Dec. 7 and is addressed to the FFRF attorney Stephanie A. Schmitt.

Wednesday night, Henderson County Judge Richard Sanders explained the county’s position, saying, “Because we have other decorations on the square other than the nativity, we feel we are in compliance with federal law.”

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Dec

07

Posted by : admin | On : December 7, 2011

Dec

06

Posted by : Press release | On : December 6, 2011

Special to The News

Dallas Andrew Fidler, 27, formerly of Seven Points, was sentenced Monday to 35 years in prison by 173rd District Court Judge Dan Moore in connection with the aggravated sexual assault of two children. Fidler elected to have the judge assess his sentence rather than a jury.

Fidler’s jury trial came to an abrupt end in October, when after four days of a jury trial he decided to change his plea from “not-guilty” to “guilty,” rather than have the jury assess his guilt. Fidler was on trial for two

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Dec

06

Posted by : admin | On : December 6, 2011

The center of the nativity scene on the Henderson County Courthouse lawn.

(UPDATE: Added text of letter from Freedom From Religion Foundation at end of story)

(UPDATE 2: Adds quotes from Freedom From Religion Foundation Co-president. Rewrites for clarity.)

By Michael V. Hannigan

ATHENS – The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Wisconsin, sent a letter dated Dec. 1 to Henderson County commissioners saying the nativity scene located on the courthouse lawn is illegal.

“We request that, as the Henderson County Commissioners, you take immediate action to ensure that no religious displays are on city or county property. Please inform us in writing of the steps

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