Group demands ETX county remove nativity scene - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Group demands ETX county remove nativity scene

ATHENS, TX (KLTV) - A group based in Wisconsin is now demanding that an East Texas nativity scene come down. 

The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a request to the Henderson County Courthouse in Athens, asking that they remove the nativity scene from the courthouse lawn. Residents say there is no way that's happening. 

"Look, these are the wise men. They were very wise and they knew that Jesus was special," Jason Burch explained to his young daughter. 

Sharing this moment with his four-year-old daughter Zephie is important to Jason Burch. To him, he says this is the meaning of Christmas.

"If we take this away, she's going to think it's the house down here with Santa Claus in it and she's not going to understand the true meaning of holiday the reason that we're celebrating is because of the birth of Christ," said Burch. 

The Freedom From Religion Foundation based in Wisconsin is asking the county to remove the nativity scene that sits on the corner of the courthouse lawn. Henderson County Judge Richard Sanders says the request surprised them. 

"Number one, how they found out about our nativity scene and then why they had an interest in it at all," said Sanders.  

"I don't understand how somebody out of state who does not know anything about us, is trying to tell us to take down something that is very dear to all of us," said Tracie Lyda, resident. 

The group says a concerned Henderson County resident complained to them, so now they are trying to take action by forcing the county to take down the nativity scene. Sanders says that's not going to happen. 

"We believe that we're in compliance with the law and with us being in compliance with the law, we feel like it's here legally and we're going to leave it here," said Sanders. 

Burch along with his wife, child and friend says he felt compelled to come to the courthouse lawn Wednesday morning and pray. 

"That we pray for you. We pray for you. If there's nothing better in life than to take God out of everything; I pray for you," said Burch. 

As of now, the nativity scene will stay on the courthouse lawn until Christmas.

Copyright 2011 KLTV. All rights reserved. 

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