Nate Kellum

Texas is its own place. Known for oil, cowboys, cattle, and distinguished swagger, it is the kind of place to which newcomers adapt rather than one which bends for newcomers. Not surprising for a place that used to be its own country. Thus the oft’ spoken motto, “Don’t mess with Texas.”

Yet Texas is a big place, and phrases like “remember the Alamo” and “Texas proud” resonate from Galveston beaches to Amarillo plains. And that’s a good thing, because right between those beaches and those plains, a fight is brewing that’s winnable, but which requires some backbone.

Case in point: the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation has sent a letter to the Athens, Texas city council demanding it remove a nativity scene from the lawn of the county courthouse there. According to FFRF, the nativity scene is unconstitutional and simply must go.

It’s nothing new for FFRF, which enjoys spending its time bullying local governments all across the country. All that has to happen is for a disgruntled citizen to call or e-mail an outfit like FFRF, and its intimidation machine springs into action.

Once a group like FFRF begins to apply pressure, it trusts that the city, township, or county it is targeting will simply fold for fear of bad PR or to avoid the hassle (and expense) of going to court.

However, FFRF may find they’ve picked on the wrong town in the wrong state this time around. For its demands have fallen on deaf ears as far as County Commissioner Joe Hall is concerned: “I’m an old country boy, you come to my house looking for a fight, you’re going to get one. That’s from the bottom of my heart.”

Hall added: “I ain’t gonna back down—I haven’t and I won’t.”

And while it sounds like the FFRF is about to get a lesson in what “Don’t mess with Texas” means, Athens and other towns around the country need to remember that they can respond to a letter from the FFRF with a phone call, an e-mail, or a mailed request to the Alliance Defense Fund.ADF exists to defend religious liberty free of charge, and part of that liberty consists in the freedom to celebrate the birth of Christ at Christmas.


Nate Kellum

Nate Kellum serves as chief counsel with the Center for Religious Expression.