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County defies atheist group's demands, keeps crosses on courthouse — and then they're lit up at night like Christmas

'Not only did we not cower to the Wisconsin Whiners, we lit them up!'

Image source: Fox News video screenshot

In defiance of the atheist activist group, Freedom From Religion Foundation, officials from San Jacinto County in east Texas voted to keep four crosses on the county courthouse.

But more than that, the crosses were lighted at night following the vote, according to Dwayne Wright, the chairman of the county Republicans.

"Cheers to leaders of San Jacinto County for taking a stand to preserve a cross on the county courthouse in the wake of attacks from Wisconsin based Freedom From Religion Foundation," local political adviser and professor Christian Collins also noted on his Facebook page. "San Jacinto County Commissioners Court voted to preserve the cross, and last night it was lit. Some would rather we forget our nation's Christian heritage, but that's not how we roll here in Texas."

What's the background?

The FFRF said it received a complaint from a resident of Coldspring — the 900-strong city where the courthouse sits — that the county displays the crosses "all year round and even lights [them] up during the holiday season," Fox News reported.

Image source: Fox News video screenshot

"The Constitution requires that the government not promote and advance or endorse religion, and by endorsing Christianity as the official county religion by having these symbols up on the county courthouse, the County is violating the establishment clause," Chris Line, an attorney for the FFRF, told the cable network.

But then members of the community got mad — and packed a commissioners court meeting last Wednesday where about 600 people showed up and spurred on nearly 2 1/2 hours of public comment, Fox News said.

"I am a Christian woman, a child of God," one woman said, according to the network. "I'm here today as a servant of Jesus Church, our Lord and Savior, asking that the crosses on our courthouse in Coldspring be left on this building."

Image source: Fox News video screenshot

Christian Stanley, a student at Cavalry Christian Academy, said to the Freedom From Religion Foundation that "you're forcing up your beliefs upon others."

The result? County lawmakers voted unanimously to keep the four Latin crosses up, Fox News said.

What did a local pastor have to say?

Pastor Phil Herrington of First Baptist Church told the network that the FFRF prevents Christians' freedom to express their faith.

"Their religion is humanism," Herrington told Fox News of the FFRF. "What they're saying is Christ followers cannot express their freedom, their voice of worship, their voice of God. Yet, they want to express themselves."

Image source: Fox News video screenshot

But Line disagreed, telling the network that "the government is endorsing Christianity, not the people. In fact, the only thing it's doing right now is suppressing non-Christians' ability to practice their religion."

What did the FFRF say in response to the county's decision?

After the county's decision to keep the cross up, Line told Fox News in a statement that it's "extremely disappointing that the County has decided to continue violating the constitutional rights of its citizens. FFRF will be following up with our local complainant and evaluating our next steps."

County Judge Fritz Faulkner added to the network that officials will seek legal counsel if necessary.

One last thing…
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