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Athens Atheists Want Banner Next to Christmas Display

Atheists want to join display in courthouse square

Friday, Dec 9, 2011  |  Updated 9:35 AM CDT
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Atheists Want to Join Nativity Display

Jeff Riggs/Athens Review

Atheists hope to take part in seasonal display in public square.

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A national atheist foundation says it will seek permission to hoist its own banner to join secular and religious Christmas displays on an East Texas courthouse square.

Attorney Stephanie Schmitt of the Freedom From Religious Foundation revealed the plan after Henderson County Attorney Clint Davis wrote a letter defending the legality of the displays on the Athens square.

She tells the Athens Daily Review that since the county allows a nonprofit civic group to erect the displays on the town square, they amount to a "public forum."

Henderson County officials received a letter from the foundation Monday, arguing that the seasonal display on courthouse grounds amount to an unconstitutional endorsement of the Christian faith.

County Judge Richard Sanders said the displays aren't only Christian in nature and therefore legal.

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