Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has enraged a national atheist group by ordering the removal of a mock nativity display inside the state capitol, with the leader of the activist group accusing him of acting both immorally and unconstitutionally.
Abbott, a Republican, took to Twitter on Tuesday to demand the removal of the display, which had been erected by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a national atheist organization that is known for posting signs and displays that take aim at the traditional meaning of Christmas.
"Mocking the capitol nativity scene is offensive," the governor wrote. "I demand removal of satirical 'nativity scene' from capitol."
According to the Texas Tribune, the "winter solstice" display — a cardboard cutout that featured the founding fathers, the Statue of Liberty and the Bill of Rights in a manger — was removed after Abbott's official complaint, in which he dubbed the mock nativity a "juvenile parody."
"It has come to my attention that State Preservation Board staff approved an application by the 'Freedom From Religion Foundation' to display an exhibit on the ground floor of the Capitol," Abbott wrote in a Dec. 22 letter to the State Preservation Board. "This juvenile parody violates the Preservation Board’s regulations and should be removed immediately."
He proceeded to explain point-by-point why he believes that the atheist display has no place inside the Texas state Capitol. Here's more from Abbott's letter:
First, far from promoting morals and the general welfare, the exhibit deliberately mocks Christians and Christianity. The Biblical scene of the newly born Jesus Christ lying in a manger in Bethlehem lies at the very heart of the Christian faith. Subjecting an image held sacred by millions of Texans to the Foundation’s tasteless sarcasm does nothing to promote morals and the general welfare. To the contrary, the Foundation’s spiteful message is intentionally designed to belittle and offend, which undermines rather than promotes any public purpose a display promoting the bill of rights might otherwise have had. The Board has allowed and should continue to allow diverse viewpoints to be expressed in Capitol displays. But it has no obligation to approve displays that purposefully mock the sincere religious beliefs of others.
So far, the Freedom From Religion Foundation is anything but elated over the governor's successful call for the display's removal.
Freedom From Religion Foundation
In a statement issued on Tuesday, the atheist group said that the display was reportedly removed this week, with co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor lambasting Abbott's actions.
"Ironically, the very document that our display was honoring is what protects this form of expression," she said. "Government officials cannot censor our speech because they disagree with our secular message."
She continued, "It's Abbott's action that is immoral — and unconstitutional, not our display honoring the Bill of Rights."
The Freedom From Religion Foundation intends to take legal action to remedy the situation.
As TheBlaze previously reported, this is hardly the first time Abbott has defended the traditional Christmas nativity.
(H/T: Texas Tribune)
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