Atheist Group Hopes to Block Texas Nativity Scene

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A nativity scene showdown between a Wisconsin-based atheist group and an east Texas town is garnering national attention.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation had demanded the Christmas display be removed from the lawn of a courthouse in Athens, Texas.

The nativity scene has been a fixture at the Henderson County court for decades.

To drive their point home, the FFRP posted a banner next to the nativity scene which reads in part, "There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell."

Refusing to be cowed, residents have vowed to put up a fight.

"We're not bowing down to this," said Pastor Nathan Lorick, one of four Henderson County pastors planning a Dec. 17 rally in support of the display.

"This organization, if they want to come, come on, let's have a dialogue about it," he added.

Residents have started a petition to keep the display in place.

"We're going to take a stand that the nation will hear," Lorick said. "It's time for Christians to wake up, stand up and speak up, to take back America."

According to Houston television station KHOU, the county is getting hundreds of emails and letters from people across the country expressing their support for the town's protest efforts.

Meanwhile, the atheist banner, which was posted without the town's permission, has been taken down.

"I was notified by the sheriff's deputies," Henderson Country Judge Richard Sanders recalled. "I instructed them to take it down."

"We received a letter Monday requesting the procedure that they would have to go through to put a sign up, and we were in the process of responding to that," he said.

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