Photo Credits: Montgomery County Gazette
The San Jacinto County Courthouse in Texas has four giant Christian crosses all around the building. The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) wrote a letter to local officials two weeks ago calling for the removal of those crosses. The FRFF argued in its complaint that the crosses constituted a government promotion of Christianity and therefore violated the Establishment Clause of the Constitution.
“These crosses unabashedly create the perception of government endorsement of Christianity,” an attorney for the national organization; based in Wisconsin, said in a letter to the local judge, Fritz Faulkner.
San Jacinto County lawmakers rejected the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s demand to remove crosses from a county courthouse amid furor from hundreds of Christian locals:
The county judge and four commissioners made the decision at a packed Commissioners Court meeting, where about 600 people showed up, following nearly two and a half hours of public comment.
“I am a Christian woman, a child of God. 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,” said one woman.
Pastor Phil Herrington of First Baptist Church said the FFRF conflicts with their freedom to express their religion. “Their religion is humanism. 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,” Herrington said.
“Freedom from Religion Foundation, you’re forcing up your beliefs upon others,” said Christian Stanley, a student of Cavalry Christian Academy.
In a letter sent to San Jacinto County Judge Fritz Faulkner and county commissioners, First Assistant Attorney General Jeff Mateer expressed his support for their overt Christianity and promised to defend them if FFRF ended up filing a lawsuit.
“Take note that on occasion FFRF will file a lawsuit to try to force government to purge all acknowledgment of religion,” [Mateer] wrote. “If that occurs, we look forward to supporting your lawful decision to retain the crosses.”
“We want to make it clear that your county may display historical religious symbols, like crosses, without violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. You should know that you can reject FFRF’s demand to impose its anti-religion bias against San Jacinto County,” First Assistant Attorney General Mateer stated in his letter.
Giant crosses are historical and not religious symbols according to Attorney General Jeff Mateer, but he still calls the FFRF’s demand ‘anti-religion bias.’ Of course, endorsing any religion by putting its symbols on state property is against the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.