A solstice nativity scene -- featuring the founding fathers and the statue of liberty kneeling before the "birth" of the Bill of Rights -- was removed from the Texas Capitol on Tuesday (Dec 22) after Gov. Greg Abbott called it "tasteless" and a "juvenile parody."
The display was placed in the capitol on December 18 by the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), a local religious liberty group, who said they received a permit for the display and an accompanying sign.
However, Gov. Abbott wrote in a letter to John Sneed, Executive Director of the State Preservation Board, to demand that the nativity be taken down:
The Biblical scene of the newly born Jesus Christ lying in a manger in Bethlehem lies at the very heart of the Christian faith. Subjecting an image held sacred by millions of Texans to the Foundation’s tasteless sarcasm does nothing to promote morals and the general welfare. To the contrary, the Foundation’s spiteful message is intentionally designed to belittle and offend, which undermines rather than promotes any public purpose a display promoting the bill of rights might otherwise have had.
However, FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor said that the group would "pursue legal redress."
"Ironically, the very document that our display was honoring is what protects this form of expression," said FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. "Government officials cannot censor our speech because they disagree with our secular message."