Nativity scene controversy sparks heated debate
HENDERSON COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - A rally is being organized to fight a demand to take down an East Texas nativity scene.
Wednesday night, KLTV told you about a Wisconsin group called the Freedom From Religion Foundation, who are asking Henderson County officials to remove the nativity scene from the courthouse lawn.
That demand has ignited people on both sides of the issue, and one pastor says he's preparing to take a stand.
"It's more of a rally to get as many evangelical believers together to say you may or may not can take our plastic. But let me tell you what you can't take. You can't take our belief and that's what we're standing up for," expressed First Baptist Church of Malakoff's Senior Pastor Nathan Lorick.
Lorick says in since this story broke, he's had calls and emails from across the country
"For so long Christianity in America has been the silent majority. This nation was founded on biblical principals and we're essentially saying it's time to take America back for the things of God," Lorick says.
But the Freedom From Religion Foundation says otherwise.
"They're showing preference for Christian speech over other forms of speech and that's unlawful because we have separation of religion and government in our country," says Annie Gaylor, Co-President of the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
"Because we do have not only the nativity scene but other Christmas decorations we are in compliance with federal law," says Henderson County Judge Richard Sanders.
Sanders says he thinks most residents like the nativity scene where it is. And a few women are trying to prove that--by collecting signatures
"The community is not what we're fighting against. It's a war on Christianity," says Tracie Lyda, one of the women collecting signatures.
But the foundation says it's all about equality.
"If they have a nativity scene up then they have to let us have a sign up that says there are no Gods," says Gaylor.
The foundation says they've already ordered that sign and are sending the county a request to display it. Something Lorick says he can't control.
But regardless, Lorick is sure of one thing, "We're not going to bite back we're going to do something in love and say you know what we serve a God that's full of love and mercy," he says.
Lorick says all East Texas pastors are invited to a rally-planning meeting Friday at 9 am at Sand Springs Baptist Church in Athens.
The rally is scheduled to take place at the Henderson County Courthouse at noon on December 17.
Copyright 2011 KLTV. All rights reserved.