Bullet Holes and Banners: Top Republicans Target Atheists Over Nativity Scene

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When you are accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.” – meme in my Facebook timeline (That’s basically this story in a tweet, but by all means continue reading for the details.)

Dust off your war machines folks, Christmas season is here again! It is that time of the year when the anti-PC crowd gets to unwrap their victim cards because saying “Happy Holidays” is so offensive!

The City of Orange is facing major backlash for removing a nativity scene from City Hall after Atheists requested to have their “Happy Holidays” banner displayed alongside. The City wanted to simultaneously deny the Atheists and avoid a lawsuit, but the perception being spread among low information consumers by opportunistic politicians is that the godless city council caved in to non-believers. 

Sadly, but perhaps not surprisingly, the Republicans who are weighing in are intentionally misrepresenting the facts. The banner in question is inclusive and is not anti-Christian in any way:
happy holidays

No opportunity to pander is too small! Top GOP officials from Governor Greg Abbott, to Attorney General Ken Paxton and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick all weighed in to say the City should ignore the Constitutional rights of groups with minority religious beliefs. It not enough that they spent the entire legislative session attacking local control, or remained silent as their harsh rhetoric towards the Muslim community has led to actual harm, and property damage.

Should we be surprised? Nope, but it could hardly be more symbolic. These same three have worked vigorously to deny safe harbor to refugees fleeing terror in the biblical “Holy Land,” and are now pretending they’re God’s warriors by saving an idol depicting the Holy Family relegated to a manger for a lack of compassion or accommodation.

And why should any city take legal advice from a guy under felony indictment, or one who has consistently loss in court against the feds? They offer their encouragement, their thoughts and prayers, but unfortunately Paxton’s office, according to his letter, “cannot represent local governmental entities in court.”

Since his indictment Paxton has been attempting to absolve himself in churches around the state and has taken up the cross of defending images of Christian identity from nativity scenes to “In God We Trust” on police vehicles. However, this entire case was never about denying Christians anything, but revolves around the idea of equal access, and even the small town council of Orange gets this point:

“Based on this request, the City reviewed current case law. Supreme Court decisions have tried to address this question in an array of decisions but there is not a clear case that gives affirmative direction to displaying the Nativity scene.  This makes it difficult to formulate a policy for Christmas decorations on City property.  Based on this and knowing that the Constitution makes a distinction between church and state, the City will be removing the Nativity scene to avoid the legal costs associated with defending the placement of the Nativity scene and focus on the true meaning of Christmas.”

So they’re saying the “true meaning of Christmas” is not to establish Christian supremacy over all other religious holidays? Blasphemy! All you have to do is read the comment sections to know that! Conservatives are having trouble understanding how the constitution also protects Atheists. Here is just a sampling of the feedback the City of Orange received on Facebook:

comments

Governor Abbott sure isn’t going to let  “the demands of a select few who wish to see God thrown out of the public square,” dictate him doing his job of representing all Texans, or prevent him from taking the issue out of context to score some political points.

A representative from the Orange County Atheist group reiterated that they never requested the nativity scene be removed in the first place:


“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 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.

This same group has been increasingly organized in Southeast Texas and adopted a stretch of highway earlier this year only to have their sign vandalized several times, most recently with bullet holes. They are working to install cameras to catch the crusaders, but they probably shouldn’t hold their breath for any institutional support from their Governor or Attorney General. 


wUvHKBT

 

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About Author

Joe Deshotel

Joe was born and raised in Beaumont, Tx, but live music and politics brought him to Austin. He has worked in and around government and elections for over a decade including for a member of US Congress, the Texas Legislature, the Mayor of Austin. He currently serves as Communications Director for the Travis County Democratic Party. He is most interested in transportation, energy and technology issues. He also likes Texas Hold'em and commuting on his electric skateboard. Follow me on Twitter at @joethepleb.

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