Patrick Greene (The Athens Review)
Atheist activist Patrick Greene's story has been a curious one. Last December, he made headlines after threatening to sue over a well-known nativity display on the Henderson County courthouse lawn in Athens, Texas.
If you'll recall, Greene became ill and, despite his vocal opposition to the Christian symbol, local believers donated money to help him and his wife afford groceries. He was so moved that he subsequently converted to Christianity, leading to an uplifting and inspirational story that was widely reported by media.
However, the tale didn't end there. We reported in April 2012 that Greene not only left atheism behind, but that he was also considering entering ministry. These aspirations were short-lived, though, as he sent an e-mail to TheBlaze just one month later in May, claiming that his conversion lasted one week before he, once again, became an atheist.
"The story you wrote last month about me, I thought you’d interested in knowing that my ‘conversion’ was temporary. It lasted less than a week," he wrote earlier this year. "I came to realize, after reading just the first half of the first chapter of Genesis, that I didn’t believe a word of it. I felt like I was insulting my own intellect."
In a follow-up phone interview this week, Greene explained that it was the Bible that made him a non-believer in the first place, as it showed a God that he believes is anything but loving. When he began exploring his faith again earlier this year, he realized that Jesus Christ was also, in his eyes, an unlikeable character.
"I enrolled in a couple of Bible courses...the story of Noah and the story of the life of Jesus and I realized that neither story -- they did not indicate to me anything other than Jesus was psychologically disturbed," he explained.
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In addition to being insane, Greene believes that the Bible shows Jesus to be "callous and incredibly arrogant."
Now, you're likely wondering why we're revisiting this story. See, Greene, empowered by his non-belief, is, once again, considering filing a lawsuit against the Henderson County nativity scene. If you'll recall, after the atheist experienced his brief stint as a Christian, he was so moved by the generosity of believers to help him that he went out and purchased a star for the nativity. That star is now the centerpiece of his pending legal complaint.
Now that he's a secularist again, the gift that he gave Christians comes with a price tag. He wants a sign attached to the nativity component that reads, "This star was a gift from 2 Texas Atheists. Merry Christmas!" His goal? To ensure that everyone knows that non-believers donated it. If the Christian community refuses to place the sign up with the star, he promises to sue over religious discrimination.
"When we gave them the star I thought that they would, on their own, achknowledge us," Greene told TheBlaze earlier this week.
As far as the symbol goes, he has no problem allowing the Christians to use it, but he demands that the sign go along with it. His initial motivation for purchasing and donating the star stemmed from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a non-theist group based in Madison, Wisconsin, and its efforts last year to have an anti-religion sign planed next to the nativity -- an effort that Greene felt was inappropriate.
The star, he believes, is a welcome gesture that shows Christians that, despite disagreeing over theology, not all atheists are evil. He told TheBlaze that the FFRF's tactics are unpalatable.
"The wording itself is insulting," he said of the FFRF sign, which proclaimed that "there are no Gods" and that religion "is but myth." "It gives atheists a bad name to have this stuff forced on people."
Despite his disagreement with an organization that technically corroborates his faith views, Greene is also angry with local Christians, claiming that he is being ignored and that the refusal to post the sign with the star is a result of his non-belief.
"I think the money that was given to us by the church and Christians -- what we thought was goodwill and brotherly love -- was actually payoff money," he concluded. "Maybe their seemingly good intentions was a way to...try to convert me."
Photo Credit: KLTV-TV
Green argues that, despite being privately owned, the nativity scene's presence on public land stands in violation of the Texas state constitution. In the atheist's eyes, the government is giving preference to Christianity by allowing the nativity to stand on its grounds.
"If they put a menorah right with it, showing inclusions of other religions, that would be totally in compliance with the Texas constitution," Greene told TheBlaze.
The constitution reads, in part, "No human authority ought, in any case whatever, to control or interfere with the rights of conscience in matters of religion, and no preference shall ever be given by law to any religious society or mode of worship."
While he maintains that the "good old boys network" probably will prevent his lawsuit from going through, he's still forging on. Local media reports claim that, in the wake of drama with Greene, the church has not yet decided if it will use the star.