After learning about a non-traditional nativity scene displayed in the Texas capitol building, Gov. Greg Abbott ordered it summarily removed, calling it a “juvenile parody.”
Now the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the atheist group that set the display up, is crying foul and considering its legal options, according to The Texas Tribune.
The display, featuring cardboard cutouts of founding fathers George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, along with the Statue of Liberty, worshiping the Bill of Rights — the first Ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution — rather than the Christ child.
Abbott, a Republican who served as Texas attorney general before moving into the executive office, tweeted:
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) December 22, 2015
The State Preservation Board, which had days earlier approved the display, promptly removed it after getting Abbott’s letter in which he referred to the U.S. Constitution..
“The Constitution does not require Texas to allow displays in its Capitol that violate general standards of decency and intentionally disrespect the beliefs and values of many of our fellow Texans,” Abbott wrote.
The display is offensive, doesn’t serve a public purpose and doesn’t educate anyone, he wrote.
“Far from promoting morals and the general welfare, the exhibit deliberately mocks Christians and Christianity.”
The Madison, Wisconsin-based nonprofit Freedom From Religion Foundation was quick to fire back.
“Governor Abbott, as a former attorney general, should be well aware that the government cannot censor any display based on his viewpoint,” Sam Grover, staff attorney for the foundation said, according to Fox 7 News Austin.
“That’s exactly what he’s done here. He’s personally offended that atheists exist and that we want an equal opportunity to express our viewpoint in the Capitol, so he censored our display. It’s illegal and inappropriate.”
The group is reviewing its legal options.
Watch the video via Fox 7 Austin.
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