Secular nativity display removed from Texas capitol after complaint from Governor Abbott

A secular “winter solstice” display has been removed from the Texas capitol basement following a complaint from Governor Greg Abbott, who in having the display removed quite literally used the government to endorse the establishment of the Christian religion.

From the Texas Tribune:

The display was a cardboard cutout of the nation’s founding fathers and the Statue of Liberty looking down at the Bill of Rights in a manger. It had been set up in the Capitol’s basement, hardly a high-traffic area, and didn’t generate much of a public response.

But after finding out about it, Abbott called it a “juvenile parody” in a letter asking the State Preservation Board to remove the exhibit.

Greg Abbott, via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Greg Abbott, via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

The removal comes a week after Abbott publicly expressed his support for a Nativity scene outside the city of Orange municipal building. He argued that the city had a Constitutional right to display the religious imagery.

In his letter Tuesday, he cited the Constitution again.

“The Constitution does not require Texas to allow displays in its Capitol that violate general standards of decency and intentionally disrespect the beliefs and values of many of our fellow Texans,” Abbott wrote.

A host of holiday decorations are currently on display in the Capitol building, including Christmas trees and a nativity scene. The Freedom From Religion Foundation had requested and been approved to put up a display of their own. It even appears as though the board responsible for approving the display knew what it was before it went up. Only after government officials complained was it removed.

This sounds silly, but amidst the inevitable string of complaints that we hear every year from the religious right about how your choice to say “Happy Holidays” is a threat to their supposed right to hear you say “Merry Christmas,” it’s worth noting where the actual holiday-related threats to the First Amendment actually lie. This kind of equal time/equal representation claim sounds silly — Why would a secular organization want to bother with a nativity scene? Aren’t they just trolling? — until some Christian elected official like Greg Abbott goes and proves that they really can’t handle it when the government is forced to recognize that Jesus isn’t the only reason for the season.

In short, government censorship of secular nativity scenes justifies their existence.

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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16 Responses to “Secular nativity display removed from Texas capitol after complaint from Governor Abbott”

  1. Larry Linn says:

    So Gov. Abbott doesn’t believer that the United States was modeled
    upon Christianity after all.

  2. ComradeRutherford says:

    Republicans sure do hate the Constitution.

  3. UncleBucky says:

    Happy Hell Holidays, Texas. Grrrr…..

  4. hidflect says:

    Invisible Sky God angry! Must appease.

  5. David F. says:

    Everything’s bigger in Texas – the ignorance, the stupid, the bigotry – except intelligence.

  6. 2karmanot says:

    Radical Christian Supremacist works for me.

  7. 2karmanot says:

    All this fuss is ridiculous. According to the Gospel of the Magi found at Nag Hammadi Easter had to be canceled because the Baby Jeebus was still born. No wonder, born in some filthy straw in a stable with animals mulling all about, the stench and not mention the stress.

  8. Don Chandler says:

    Don’t be going to Texas with that Solstice attitude!

  9. Riccardo Cabeza says:

    Greg Abbott is just bitter because his invisible, spiteful, sky dad cursed him into a wheelchair for being a terminal republican asshole.

  10. DoverBill says:

    I’m practicing my speed-reading here again.

    Would this have anything to do with that shitass state?

  11. Houndentenor says:

    Greg Abbott…because Rick Perry wasn’t enough of an embarrassment.

  12. BeccaM says:

    I know the term and its origins, but in this particular instance I prefer the connotations associated with ‘supremacist.’

  13. Doug105 says:


    Dominion Theology

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Dominion Theology is a theocratic ideology that seeks to implement a nation governed by conservative Christians ruling over the rest of society based on their understanding of biblical law. Dominion Theology is related to theonomy, though it does not necessarily advocate Mosaic law as the basis of government.

    Prominent adherents of Dominion Theology are otherwise theologically diverse, including the Calvinist Christian Reconstructionism and the charismatic/Pentecostal Kingdom Now theology and New Apostolic Reformation.

    The term Dominion Theology is applied primarily among non-mainstream Protestants in the United States. Some elements within the mainstream Christian right have been influenced by Dominion Theology authors. Indeed, some writers have applied the term “Dominionism” more broadly to the mainstream Christian right, implicitly arguing that that movement is founded upon a theology that requires Christians to govern over non-Christians. Mainstream conservatives do not call themselves “Dominionists,” and the usage has sparked considerable controversy.

  14. cambridgemac says:

    Good article. It’s all about intimidation. Always has been. That’s how the church grew under Constantine and ever since. Well, also, too, money.

  15. BeccaM says:

    I guess the term “Christian Supremacist” is the more accurate term now, overtaking mere ‘Christian privilege.’

    Only their symbols, practices and beliefs are allowed, all others can go pound sand.

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