Last week, Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered the removal of two displays by the Freedom From Religion Foundation from the State Capitol building: A “Bill of Rights” Nativity featuring some Founding Fathers and the Statue of Liberty and a sign saying “Happy Winter Solstice”:
He removed the displays, even though they had been approved by Capitol officials, because they “deliberately mock[ed] Christians and Christianity.” I disagree on that point, but even if they did, that wouldn’t be a reason to remove them. The Capitol had an open forum and FFRF followed every rule when applying for the space. Just because you don’t like the display doesn’t mean it can’t be there.
FFRF plans to appeal the decision. In the meantime, however, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram just published an editorial defending the display and calling out the Governor for his unconstitutional actions:
Abbott wrote that the “juvenile parody” violated the regulations of the State Preservation Board by not having a public purpose, not being educational. and promoting ignorance and falsehood. He also said the exhibit “deliberately mocks Christians and Christianity.”
But the display did educate (its sign contained information about adoption of the Bill of Rights), had a public purpose (to remind people of separation of church and state) and didn’t promote falsehoods (nowhere did it say the Founding Fathers worshiped the Bill of Rights).
Bill of Rights protections often make people uncomfortable. This display should have come under First Amendment protection. Abbott’s urging its removal was simply wrong.
Read the full damning piece right here.
If Abbott doesn’t realize how badly he screwed up yet, he will once he’s hit with a lawsuit. It’s just a matter of timing.