A few years ago, I had a brief obsession with Patrick Greene. He’s an atheist from Texas who alienated many in our own community, got help from Christians when he needed eye surgery, ignored the help given to him by atheists, told the Christian media that he had converted to Christianity, and then deconverted back.
Besides constantly flip-flopping on faith for reasons that have nothing to do with reason, he was known for filing a lot of lawsuits, many of which were frivolous. For example, he filed a lawsuit against Ray Comfort for selling a bumper sticker that said April Fool’s Day should be called “National Atheist’s Day.”
You know things are bad when atheists have to defend Ray Comfort’s freedom of speech.
His latest lawsuit was over a 19-story-tall cross in Corpus Christi. The groundbreaking ceremony for the attraction took place in early February and some local government members were on hand for it:
Mayor [Nelda] Martinez, Council Member Carolyn Vaughan and Council Member Lucio Rubio were all present at the groundbreaking.
The man who filed the lawsuit says if those city officials had attended the event as private citizens, or just attended and had not officially endorsed the project, he wouldn’t have a problem. But because he says the mayor gave this project a commendation that makes it a violation of the Texas constitution.
It’s a fine line, but there’s an argument to be made that a giant cross is as much a tourist attraction as it is a Christian symbol. I wouldn’t be surprised if government officials showed up for the opening of Ken Ham‘s Ark Encounter theme park (though I might question their judgment). I’d be more disturbed if the politicians said citizens should convert to Christianity, but there’s no evidence of that taking place.
But then, back in March, Greene promised to drop his lawsuit… supposedly because he wanted to focus on the health of his wife:
Patrick Greene of San Antonio confirmed to KRIS 6 News that his wife’s recent health problems are why he’s backing away. In an email response he stated, “I do not want this lawsuit complicating her life, especially with the revenge attitudes of many Christians.”
Sure… As if local pastors were going to come after her. But okay. I hope she gets healthy again soon. You can’t just file and drop a lawsuit without consequence, though, because it’s a waste of everyone’s time and money.
This week, both sides reached a settlement. And Greene deservingly got the short end of the stick.
Greene agreed that his claims were “vexatious and without merit” and promised not to threaten or file additional legislation of the sort.
If that puts an end to his frivolous lawsuits, then great. There’s a reason larger church/state separation groups aren’t filing these lawsuits; they have little merit and they’re not cases our side will win. This is just the latest example of Greene embarrassing himself.
First Liberty Institute, which fought Greene in the suit, was thrilled, though their reasoning was off:
“We are grateful that Mr. Greene has admitted that his lawsuit — filed against a pastor for building a cross on church property — is baseless and without merit,” said Jeremy Dys, senior counsel for First Liberty Institute, which represented the church. “Today’s outcome should send a clear message to anti-religious freedom activists everywhere: If you abuse the legal system by suing people simply because you don’t like how they exercise their religion, there will be legal consequences.”
That’s rich coming from a group that regularly defends Christians who proselytize in public schools or discrimination through their businesses. Greene’s lawsuit may have been frivolous but others are not. It has nothing to do with how religious people practice their faith and everything to do with how they want the government to promote their faith.