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Wis. non-profit group takes issue with Texas nativity scene

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ATHENS, TEXAS — Some people here in Wisconsin are taking issue with a holiday display way down in Texas! A Wisconsin activist group wants the City of Athens to remove its nativity display from the front of the courthouse, and that has many in Athens outraged.

Henderson County Judge Richard Sanders say residents haven’t complained, but the issues were brought up by the Freedom from Religion Foundation, which is a Wisconsin non-profit group that sent a letter to the county this week, calling the display unconstitutional and demanding it come down.

County Commissioner Joe Hall says the county isn’t budging, and says the nativity scene won’t be removed.

Henderson County doesn’t own the nativity scene. It has been put up for more than a decade by volunteers from the Keep Athens Beautiful group. Commissioners say they wouldn’t object to other religious displays being put up on county property, but they’ve never been asked. “I would be interested if a person from Henderson County approached me on wanting to put something up on the Henderson County courthouse lawn. I don’t know what I would think about someone from Wisconsin asking us to do something,” Sanders said.

The Supreme Court has ruled against nativity scenes on government property in the past, but this seems like a fight county officials are ready to take on.

The Wisconsin Freedom from Religion Foundation has filed lawsuits against government agencies in other states in similar situations.