Freedom From Religion Found. places sign on courthouse lawn

Published: Dec. 14, 2011 at 7:55 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 15, 2011 at 3:11 PM CST
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HENDERSON COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - Last week, we first told you about a group from Wisconsin called the Freedom From Religion Foundation, who are against a Nativity display at the Henderson County Courthouse.

That group paid for a sign that was put up Wednesday right next to the Nativity scene, but it did not stay there for long.

A man tied the sign to a tree, snapped a photo with his cell phone, then got in his car and left.

The man did not tell KLTV his name and he declined to talk on camera, but about 10 minutes later, Henderson County deputies removed it. They said the foundation didn't have permission to put it up in the first place.

"This was a surprise today when the young man hung the banner on the courthouse lawn," said Henderson County Judge Richard Sanders.

"I was notified by the sheriff's deputies. I instructed them to take it down," he said.

In part the sign reads-- there are no Gods, no devils, no angels, no Heaven and no Hell.
The man who put it up told KLTV he had permission put it there, but the county said otherwise.

"My understanding was he drove up, parked quickly, got out, put it up and took off as quickly as he pulled up," said Judge Sanders.

The sign was paid for by the Freedom From Religion Foundation and placed next to this Nativity scene," said Sanders.

"We received a letter Monday requesting the procedure that they would have to go through to put a sign up and we were in the process of responding to that," he said.

That letter is dated December 7 and, according to Henderson County, was received on December 12. The letter asks the county to respond in 10 days and Judge Sanders said they still plan to do that.

"What we're going to basically do is inform them of the procedure that KAB has done to decorate not only for Christmas but for all of the other seasons of the year," said Judge Sanders.

The county said KAB, Keep Athens Beautiful, is in charge of the lawn decorations and the Freedom From Religion Foundation's request will be considered by both KAB as well as the county.

We told you last week a church group was trying to organize a living nativity scene on the lawn, but the Henderson County Attorney advised against it.

Wednesday he told KLTV he made that decision in efforts to keep the courthouse decor in compliance with federal law.

Some area churches are putting on a rally in favor of the nativity display. That rally will be Saturday at noon.

Organizers said for one hour on December 17, Christians will gather in worship and prayer.

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