Messing with Texas: It’s an inadvisable thing. The Freedom From Religion Foundation is finding that out from the people of San Jacinto County.
If you’re not familiar with the FFRF, you’re probably not familiar with ticky-tack lawsuits over whether a school can put the three wise men in a Christmas display. Every few months, clockwork-like, the FFRF shows up with a new lawsuit specifically tailored to elicit maximum attention.
This time, the subject of the lawsuit is the San Jacinto County Courthouse in Coldspring, which apparently has four crosses. This is enough for the Wisconsin-based organization to threaten to sue the county, which is about an hour north of Houston, unless it removes the religious ephemera.
Instead of kowtowing, however, county residents decided to let the FFRF know what was what.
According to Fox News, the county judge and four commissioners voted unanimously to keep the four white crosses on the building last week.
Then, members of the community showed up in droves to protest the FFRF’s legal maneuvering against the county.
Speakers at the event, which drew hundreds of people, roundly condemned the atheist group.
Cloresa Porter, a local resident, said that “the devil is alive” and “political correctness is a one-way ticket to hell,” according to Fox.
Terry Holcomb, an area preacher, was even more blunt: “Go suck a tailpipe,” he told the FFRF.
Yes, those are some pretty heavy words, but when you have an organization that’s throwing its legal weight behind suing a small Texas county because said organization has a twisted view of the Establishment Clause, I’d be angry too.
And, let’s face it, this is Texas — by God, they don’t mince their words or deeds, as the chairman of the San Jacinto Republican Party pointed out on Facebook.
“THIS is how we roll in San Jacinto County! Not only did we not cower to the Wisconsin Whiners, we Lit Them Up!” Dwayne Wright said in a Facebook post that showed one of the crosses lit up.
San Jacinto has a small population — less than 30,000 total, according to the Census Bureau — but it has a lot of fight.
“Even a small, tiny speck of a community – when you come together and you share conservative principles – you can push back against any of these anti-religious groups,” Wright said in an interview with conservative radio host Todd Starnes.
“We don’t need freedom from religion. We need freedom of religion.”
He also invoked one of the most famous of biblical battles when Starnes brought it up:
“We absolutely identify with David’s plight and we’re willing to toss that rock,” he said.
But they’re not standing alone. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office wrote the county last week assuring San Jacinto officials of its support.
“We want to make it clear that your county may display historical religious symbols, like crosses, without violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. You should know that you can reject FFRF’s demand to impose its anti-religion bias against San Jacinto County,” First Assistant Attorney General Mateer wrote.
We’ll fight for you in court: That is what the Texas attorney general is telling San Jacinto County after county leaders voted to maintain crosses at their courthouse over the threats of an atheist group. https://t.co/eaaZ8BjMLl
— ProvidenceFoundation (@Providencefndtn) May 10, 2019
The FFRF is being, well, its FFRF-iest.
“It is extremely disappointing that the County has decided to continue violating the constitutional rights of its citizens,” organization attorney Chris Line said in a statement.
“FFRF will be following up with our local complainant and evaluating our next steps.”
County Judge Fritz Faulkner indicated that San Jacinto County will be seeking legal representation if the FFRF decides to take those next steps in a court of law.
So, in short, if the foundation wants the crosses down, it looks like they’re going to have to do it inside a courtroom — and San Jacinto County is more than willing to stand up to the Goliath, rock in hand.
And from the looks of things, there a few hundred residents willing to rally behind them.
This is why you don’t mess with Texas.
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