The Religious Intolerance of Greg Abbott

With the holidays upon us, religious righters and the politicians who pander to them are looking for any excuse to scream about a mythical “war on Christmas” and dream up new “threats” to religious freedom. The latest example comes to us from the city of Orange in Southeast Texas.

Orange city officials have decided to remove a Christmas nativity scene from city hall because an organization called Orange County Atheists wanted also to post a banner nearby. The atheists’ banner doesn’t attack Christmas or religion at all. It doesn’t even object to the nativity scene. The banner (below) simply extends good wishes to people who celebrate other holidays (including Christmas) this time of year:


But some folks in Orange are offended that a public building would (gasp) recognize the holidays of various faiths and traditions along with Christmas. Here’s what a city spokesperson said in announcing the rejection of the request to post the banner:

Based on this request, the City reviewed current case law. Supreme Court decisions have tried to address this question in an array of decisions, but there is not a clear case that gives affirmative direction to displaying the Nativity scene. This makes it difficult to formulate a policy for Christmas decorations on City property. Based on this and knowing that the Constitution makes a distinction between church and state, the City will be removing the Nativity scene to avoid the legal costs associated with defending the placement of the Nativity scene and focus on the true meaning of Christmas.

Orange County Atheists didn’t demand the removal of the Christmas nativity scene. They simply wanted acknowledgment at city hall that some taxpayers celebrate other holidays and traditions as well. That certainly seems reasonable in a country that, supposedly, respects religious freedom for all. But Orange officials decided that city hall will acknowledge Christmas or nothing at all.

Not surprisingly, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott blames the Orange County Atheists anyway:

Gov. Abbott’s tweet fueled the desired backlash from the “we’re persecuted” crowd. Check out some of the comments to his tweet. Some couldn’t resist dragging their hatred for President Obama into the “controversy” as well:

“This is absolutely ridiculous. Why is there a constant assualt on Christians!?!”

“There did not seem to be a problem with #Christianity or Christmas until #Obamas appearance.”

“Obama hates Christians. Watch his sermon on the mound tirade on YouTube”

“There is nothing #Texan about these animals that are atheists. Let them worship each other around their dope pipes”

So what’s the message Gov. Abbott and his supporters are really sending? It isn’t about the freedom to celebrate Christmas in the public square. No one objected to that. It’s certainly not about religious freedom — unless you’re talking about the freedom to use government to acknowledge just one religion (your own). No, the message they’re sending is pretty clear: “Religious freedom is for Christians only.”

That religious intolerance sounds pretty un-American to us.

6 thoughts on “The Religious Intolerance of Greg Abbott

  1. We have four obfuscators at the top of our Texas government: Abbott, Patrick, Paxton and Miller. From what I can tell, they reign over a temporarily (I hope) confused electorate that has made the mistake of thinking they represent most Texans. This sign in Orange is a case in point. Orange was NOT challenged by the atheist group.

  2. I don’t why Abbott would pick that fight.

    More pressing needs such as women’s and children health.

    Jesus Christ however was the most intolerant of any religious leader ever. “no one comes to God except through me.” ANd that is echoed by Peter “There is no other name by which a man can be saved except Jesus Christ.”

    People can do what they it doesn’t bother me. I wish all a Merry Christmas and spread the news that Jesus Christ has come and died on the cross for an atonement for people’s sins. Whether they choose to accept and believe is their responsibility.

  3. I follow this issue closely. Case law is now consistent on the issue of nativity scenes on government property. If one is there, the government entity MUST allow the scenes or displays of other non-Christian religions and philosophies. In practice, this includes Humanist, Atheist, Pastafarian, and Festivus displays. The alternative is to remove the nativity scene and allow no holiday displays. Either of these two solutions preserves the secular nature of government in our country as required by the First Amendment. True to form, our law school-educated governor, Greg Abbott, doesn’t know or understand the law. He is just an ignorant or mean-spirited Grinch who wants only HIS Christian religion to be able to express ITS holiday superstitions. This is an intolerant and illegal state policy.

    1. I haven’t commented here much in the last few months, so let me state I am an atheist who considers most religions on a spectrum from silly to dangerous to the believer’s mental health. At the same time I am tolerant of people’s beliefs, and very much enjoy celebrating Christmas — whose religious meaning, the fundamentalists rightly say, has been so lost that it has becomvangelicale a ‘celebration of celebrating.’

      I’m just wondering about that general rule. We — who get the flak we get from Evangelicals Christians, mostly — tend to think of other religions and even other forms of Christianity – are ‘better,’ more tolerant, exclusive, etc.

      But would we feel the same if the group wanting its own display was ‘Christian Identity’ — the neo-Nazi version f Christianity — or one of the more intolerant and anti-gay versions of Russian Orthodoxy? Would we defend, say, a banner that read “I’m Dreaming of a WHITE Christmas” with a drawing of blacks being led onto boats and exiled. Or a banner saying ‘Celebrate the Holy Family, and protect them against the anti-family gays” with a picture of crossed swords or clubs or — given this IS Texas — gun barrels. (I should also remind people I am proudly bisexual as well as a life-long anti-racist.)

      I understand ‘my side’ and the worry it has — mostly because of the stupid trumpeting of the Phony War on Christmas from the Conservatives. And there IS a big difference between ‘put our banner up too’ and ‘take everything down.’ But seeing a Christmas display, even on public property, even one that stresses the ‘religious’ aspect of the holiday, has never bothered me. (In fact, the ideas behind what has become of Christmas, the giving and thee good cheer and all, seem to be so worth celebrating that, even though the Christians include religious imagery that, in fact, is far less ‘nice’ than is the secular part, I’ve never found it in me to get that excited — but maybe that is because I come from NJ and NYC, where diversity is so much a part of the culture.

      Whatever, a few disjointed thoughts that might be worth considering before next year’s round of the ‘same old song.’

  4. I don’t know why Abbott keeps sticking his God-soaked nose in these issues rather than being Governor of the state. He doesn’t need to pander, whether it’s made-up ISIS threats or Jade Helm or Ebola or Christ in a Crib. It makes him look stupid and perhaps that’s it. Our governor is simply simple.

  5. What a friend we have in assholes, Abbott, Paxton et al.
    What a privilege to carry firearms in public, all because we don’t carry everything to Abbott in graft.

    The “War on Christmas” was started by another moron who sucks the marrow out of Faux. BillO was the jerk who stared that one.

    Now let’s look at the number of Christians as compared to Muslims. The Muslims are in the majority.

    The so-called nativity scene is wrong. The baby Joshua was born in Nazareth in northern Judea. The Romans were not stupid, they taxed people where they were.