Texas Attorney General weighs in on Nativity scene controversy - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Texas Attorney General weighs in on Nativity scene controversy

The fight over an East Texas courthouse Nativity scene has now gotten the attention of the State Attorney General.

This month, the Freedom From Religion Foundation has been asking Henderson County to remove the Nativity scene on the courthouse lawn.

The Nativity scene is still up, but last week, the court removed an anti-religion sign the foundation put up, saying the foundation did not get the proper permission.

Today an expert weighed in.

"I think that it's important to understand that this is about protection of people's individual rights. It's protection of your religious rights," says University of Texas at Tyler Associate Professor of Political Science Bob Sterken.

For years the Nativity scene has set on the courthouse lawn during Christmas. But, this season it's needed some defending.

In a letter of support Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott says Henderson County has no legal obligation to take the Nativity scene down. But, the Freedom From Religion Foundation says because the Nativity scene is the focus of an entire corner of the courthouse lawn-- that violates the constitution by endorsing a specific religion.

"As uncomfortable as that may feel to somebody who is in the majority and they want to see their Nativity scene on the courthouse lawn it's really a wonderful protection for them and their rights," said Sterken.

But in both letters the foundation and the AG say the constitution's Establishment Clause makes them right. So who is? Sterken says it's hard to tell.

"What's happened is the Supreme Court has not been precise in this area. They've said 'look, if you put a Nativity scene or a specific religious scene by itself... all by itself... then that is supporting a particular religion '," said Sterken.

The county says the non-religious decorations on the courthouse lawn protect them from that.


Judge Richard Sanders says Henderson County Commissioner's Court will be looking at other requests even the foundation's in January.

"That's when they would have the opportunity to make a presentation to the court to explain what they are going to do," said Judge Sanders.

But, until then it's safe to say the Nativity scene will stay on display this Christmas.

Judge Sanders says if the Freedom From Religion Foundation is going to put a display on the courthouse lawn, a resident from Henderson County will have to make the presentation representing the foundation in Commissioner's Court.

Copyright 2011 KLTV. All rights reserved.

  • NewsMore>>

  • East Texas Volunteer Firefighter drowns

    East Texas Volunteer Firefighter drowns

    Sunday, July 23 2017 3:27 AM EDT2017-07-23 07:27:04 GMT
    Source: Lake Palestine East Volunteer Fire Department's FacebookSource: Lake Palestine East Volunteer Fire Department's Facebook

    A volunteer firefighter and support personnel with the Lake Palestine East Volunteer Fire Department has died.

    More >>

    A volunteer firefighter and support personnel with the Lake Palestine East Volunteer Fire Department has died.

    More >>
  • Camp Coverage: Dallas Cowboys arrive in Oxnard, California

    Camp Coverage: Dallas Cowboys arrive in Oxnard, California

    Saturday, July 22 2017 11:50 PM EDT2017-07-23 03:50:41 GMT
    KLTV StaffKLTV Staff
    Around 4:15 p.m. PDT, the Cowboys arrived at the Ventura County Naval Base in Pt. Mugu. And every player was dressed in a suit and tie, a pretty business like approach already being sent from Head Coach Jason Garrett. Before taking buses to the training camp headquarters in Oxnard, the players and Coach Garrett took time to sign autographs for the military and their families. "I think it really puts things in perspective. You know these guys are out here risking their live...More >>
    Around 4:15 p.m. PDT, the Cowboys arrived at the Ventura County Naval Base in Pt. Mugu. And every player was dressed in a suit and tie, a pretty business like approach already being sent from Head Coach Jason Garrett. Before taking buses to the training camp headquarters in Oxnard, the players and Coach Garrett took time to sign autographs for the military and their families. "I think it really puts things in perspective. You know these guys are out here risking their live...More >>
  • ETX teen raises funds for 31 bullet proof vests in 31 days

    ETX teen raises funds for 31 bullet proof vests in 31 days

    Saturday, July 22 2017 10:06 PM EDT2017-07-23 02:06:14 GMT
    An East Texas boy scout has achieved his goal of raising enough money to purchase 31 bullet proof vests in 31 days. 13 year old Jaxon Holland was raising the funds for his Eagle Scout project and surpassed his goal. Holland raised $18,000 which will cover 34 vests plus accessories. The vests will be donated to the Wood County Sheriff’s office. Jaxon’s family tells us he successfully earned his eagle badge after completing the fundraiser. RELATED: http://www.kltv.com/st...More >>
    An East Texas boy scout has achieved his goal of raising enough money to purchase 31 bullet proof vests in 31 days. 13 year old Jaxon Holland was raising the funds for his Eagle Scout project and surpassed his goal. Holland raised $18,000 which will cover 34 vests plus accessories. The vests will be donated to the Wood County Sheriff’s office. Jaxon’s family tells us he successfully earned his eagle badge after completing the fundraiser. RELATED: http://www.kltv.com/st...More >>
Powered by Frankly