Oct

25

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : October 25, 2012

By Michael V. Hannigan, The News Staff

ATHENS — A decision has been made.

Henderson County Judge Richard Sanders told the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) on Wednesday that its request to place a banner on the Courthouse Square has been denied.

The decision came as The News was going to press, so details were limited.

“Henderson County’s decision to deny our permit is appalling,” FFRF Co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor told The News Wednesday. “County officials have continually given FFRF the run-around in an attempt to stonewall our application which they had no intention of approving. Using government power to promote religion and hinder criticism of religion is tyrannical, and is precisely what our secular Constitution prohibits.”

The FFRF is the Wisconsin-based organization that demanded the county remove a nativity scene from the Christmas decorations on the courthouse lawn last December. Later, the foundation shifted its focus from removing the nativity to allowing one of its banners.

READ THE REST OF THE STORY IN OUR ONLINE EDITION.

Apr

28

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : April 28, 2012

 

By Michael V. Hannigan
The News Staff

ATHENS — When the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) filed paperwork with the county last week to display an atheist banner on the Courthouse lawn in December, one of the questions percolating behind the scenes was: “Does it have to be this banner?”

The question wasn’t officially asked out loud; it wasn’t broached during the commissioners’ meeting, at least not yet. But the whispers were there.

The proposed 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.”

The FFRF has many different banners, however, including one that simply reads: “Reasons Greetings.”

FFRF attorney Charles Caperton admitted after last week’s meeting to at least hearing the question, but said

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Mar

30

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : March 30, 2012

By Michael V. Hannigan
The News Staff

ATHENS — It took a couple of weeks longer then expected, but Henderson County commissioners approved a premises use policy this week to “clarify and memorialize” the way county property is used.

The policy covers rules for using county property for rallies or demonstrations, including when to apply for a permit and the need for insurance, and for establishing public displays, decorations or monuments.

The approval came without much discussion on Tuesday, but when the policy was

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Mar

29

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : March 29, 2012

By Michael V. Hannigan
The News Staff

The man who filed a complaint with the state against Henderson County Judge Richard Sanders in connection with the continuing nativity scene controversy has changed his mind.

San Antonio atheist Patrick Greene filed a complaint with the Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct earlier this month, saying, “By refusing to take a neutral position in a sectarian issue, and to fail to publicly chastise Commissioner Hall in his comments as a standing county commissioner, which stated that ‘This is a Christian nation,’ Judge Sanders violated the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct.”

This week, however, Greene sent a letter to Commission Chairman Tom Cunningham, writing, “I hereby request that you drop my complaint against Henderson County District Judge Richard Sanders. After due deliberation

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Mar

15

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : March 15, 2012

Column by Michael V. Hannigan

I’ve been lucky enough in my career to break a few fairly big stories, and last December when I broke the story about the nativity scene controversy I knew I had a big one.

Hey, I didn’t know it was international coverage big, but I knew it was a story that was going to draw attention and have what we call a “long tail,” meaning it was going to be around a long time.

But I never expected Patrick Greene.

Greene is the San Antonio atheist who stepped into the debate in February, promising to sue the county if it put the nativity scene up on the Courthouse lawn next Christmas. The important part is that Greene has a history of filing

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Mar

01

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : March 1, 2012

By Michael V. Hannigan
The News Staff

In what could be his final action in the Henderson County nativity scene controversy, San Antonio atheist Patrick Greene filed a complaint this week to the State Commission on Judicial Conduct against County Judge Richard Sanders.

Greene stepped into the county’s ongoing nativity scene debate in February when he wrote all members of Commissioners’ Court, threatening a lawsuit if the display is not moved to private property.

Greene, who has a long history of church-state lawsuits, told The Malakoff News he was becoming involved “to show that Christianity does not rule my state of Texas, the Constitution does. Christianity is only one of the many faiths represented in this state.”

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Mar

01

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : March 1, 2012

(UPDATE: Please see update at end of story.)

By Michael V. Hannigan
The News Staff

It appears that San Antonio atheist Patrick Greene may be leaving the Henderson County nativity scene controversy as quickly as he entered.

Greene revealed this weekend that he believes he has a detached retina, which he expects will leave him blind in the very near future.
In early February, Greene emailed several county officials promising to sue Henderson County if the traditional nativity scene is displayed on the courthouse lawn this Christmas. But because of his health, he has decided to back away from his threat to sue.

“There is no way for me to go up there if I’m blind,” he said.

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Feb

17

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : February 17, 2012

By Michael V. Hannigan

A San Antonio atheist recently became the newest participant in Henderson County’s apparently-not-confined-to-Christmas nativity scene controversy.

Patrick Greene this week emailed a letter to all members of Commissioners’ Court threatening a lawsuit if the nativity scene is not moved to private property. In an email interview with The Malakoff News, Greene said, “… If they do not respond to my email by … Monday, February 20, 2012, I will assume that they have no intention of responding at all. In which case I will begin filling out the necessary forms, and file the lawsuit on the day they put up the nativity display.”

When asked his reasons for becoming involved, Greene said “to show that Christianity does not rule

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Feb

09

Posted by : Staff Reports | On : February 9, 2012

Dear Editor,

My name is Patrick Greene. I live with my wife of 33 years Karen. We live in San Antonio. Mr. Richard Riehn wrote a letter to the editor on Dec. 20th last year, defending the Nativity scene and how Thomas Jefferson and the Founding Fathers

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Jan

13

Posted by : Erik Walsh | On : January 13, 2012

By Michael V. Hannigan

The nativity scene from the Henderson County Courthouse lawn has been put away and so has the controversy surrounding the display, at least for a couple of months.

Officials for both Henderson County and the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) confirmed this week that the next round in the battle over the county’s Christmas display will likely come in March, when

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