Magazine article Church & State

Texas County Says No to 'Freethought' Banner for Winter Solstice

Magazine article Church & State

Texas County Says No to 'Freethought' Banner for Winter Solstice

Article excerpt

Officials in Kerr County, Texas, permitted the display of a nativity scene on the courthouse lawn to acknowledge Christmas during the holiday season, but were unwilling to extend the same right to a local group of non-believers.

The Kerr County Commissioners voted 4-1 in November to deny a re quest from Kerrville Freethought to erect a banner celebrating Winter Solstice and the Bill of Rights.

"We are just asking for equal treatment," said David Whitsett, a member of the group, "We'd like to say we want to celebrate our stuff too, and we want to put up a banner that says what our stuff is."

Another member of the group, Anthony Slape, added, "I have no representation in the country, in the government at all. There's no political leaders in the country that I know of that are non-religious."

Some local residents said they considered the banner offensive.

"They are trying to attack and humiliate the fact that we believe in Christ," said the Rev. Del Way of Calvary Temple Church. Way presented a petition signed by nearly 1,000 people opposing display of the banner.

The courthouse lawn annually includes a nativity scene erected by members of a local church. Courts have generally allowed such displays as long as other groups are given the same access.

The vote marked the second time the commission has deliberated the matter. In September, commission members first dealt with the free-thought group's request during a stormy meeting that drew more than 200 people, many of whom attacked the banner. …

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