The War on Christmas has hit a small East Texas town. Residents of Orange, Texas, are furious that a nativity scene has been taken down after 30 years. The city manager decided to remove it from city property after atheists demanded a display of their own.
City Manager Shawn Oubre told Fox4 in Beaumont, Texas, the Nativity scene is being removed in order to avoid legal costs.
The atheist organization wanted to put a banner next to the Nativity scene. The city manager responded by saying that the Christmas display would be taken down.
The action comes at a time when Christians, and those who believe in celebrating Christmas as one of this nation’s foundational traditions, believe that both Christianity and Christmas are under attack as never before.
Pam Cooper told ABC13, “I was so disappointed. My heart is broken. I was angry. I think it’s unheard of that we would stop doing a nativity after 30-something years.”
Josh Hammers of the Orange County Atheists (OCA) told ABC13, “[The banner] listed several different holidays including Christmas. It says regardless of what holiday you’re celebrating, the Orange County Atheists wold like to wish you happy holidays.”
The local Fox affiliate reported that a statement released by OCA said, “We asked for equality and the City of Orange chose to give it to us by removing the nativity scene instead of allowing our display alongside the other displays. This was not the result we were hoping for, but we are glad that the City of Orange has decided to treat all citizens equally by keeping the publicly owned property neutral when it comes to religious displays.”
Residents have been reported to be upset with Hammers, the OCA, and the city manager.
Cooper told ABC13, “When are we going to stand up?”
Texas Governor Greg Abbott was the first to speak up on the issue. He issued a statement saying, “As the U.S. Supreme Court has continually held, public acknowledgement of our religious heritage is entirely consistent with the Constitution. The Constitution commands accommodation of religion rather than hostility towards it. I strongly encourage the City of Orange to stand up to the demands of a select few who wish to see God thrown out of the public square, embrace the season of Christmas and restore the Nativity Scene immediately.”
In December of 2014, then Attorney General Abbott offered legal support to Cherokee County, Texas, in their fight to keep their nativity scene after the American Humanist Association sent a letter requesting that the Christmas display be taken down.
In a statement obtained by Breitbart Texas, Attorney General Ken Paxton said, “The Orange County Commissioners Court is under no legal obligation to remove the Nativity Scene outside the county courthouse during the Christmas season.” He added, “The U.S. Supreme Court has consistently held that passive public displays—such as Nativity scene–acknowledging our nation’s religious heritage are constitutional. My office stands to provide appropriate legal support to the city and the commissioners court.”
As reported by Breitbart Texas, the Office of the Texas Attorney General recently addressed another issue involving government property when it issued an opinion saying the national motto “In God We Trust”could be displayed on law enforcement division patrol vehicles. The Freedom From Religion Foundation had threatened a lawsuit over the display of the motto on patrol cars in Childress, Texas.
Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick released a statement saying, “I stand behind the City of Orange’s initial decision to display the nativity scene of Christ outside of City Hall. In fact, I encourage the City of Orange to put the nativity scene back on display and not succumb to those who threaten to silence what many of us hold so dear to our hearts – religious liberty.” He added, “Religious liberty is the foundation of our nation. If the City of Orange is worried about litigation, I am happy to make the first donation to their legal defense fund.”
In a statement obtained by Breitbart Texas, Jonathan Saenz of Texas Values, “a non-profit organization dedicated to standing for faith, family, and freedom in Texas,” said, “The War on Christmas in Texas is out of control. The U.S. Supreme Court is very clear – Christmas displays can exist on government property. We should not allow atheists to bully our Texas towns. We stand ready to defend the nativity scene.”
Lana Shadwick is a contributing writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. Follow her on Twitter @LanaShadwick2