The City of Orange, TX has removed a nativity scene displayed at City Hall this week after an atheist created negative attention and controversy over the legal nativity scene. Orange City Manager Shawn Oubre’s office told the press that the display would be taken down in order to “avoid legal costs” even though no lawsuit has been filed. It seems clear that this legal conclusion by the city is at odds with Attorney General Paxton, Governor Abbott and legal experts in Texas on this area of law and some believe the City of Orange simply caved under a thin amount of pressure. A spokesman for the atheist group has indicated the group is “glad” that the city nativity display is coming down.
In contrast, the Orange County Commissioners Court has made it clear they have no plans to move or take down their nativity scene on the lawn of the county courthouse after a public hearing that included testimony from an atheist. Texas Values friend Dana Hodges presented testimony on behalf of Texas Values and Concerned Women for America in support of the nativity scene at the public hearing.
Over 9,000 emails have been sent to the City of Orange asking them to keep the nativity scene at City Hall. The City of Orange has so far ignored the enormous outcry of the public and state leaders.
Texas Values President Jonathan Saenz released this statement after the County hearing:
“We are thankful that Orange County officials held the line and are keeping the county nativity scene up. This is clearly what the people want and what the law allows. It’s shameful that city officials so quickly took down their nativity scene instead of showing leadership that people in Texas expect. We at Texas Values remain committed to fighting to stop the War on Christmas, wherever it happens. We are thankful for state leaders like Governor Abbott, General Paxton and Lt. Gov. Patrick for their continued support on these important issues this time of year.”
Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, and Texas Lt. Gov. Patrick all released statements of support for the nativity scene on public property. Texas Attorney General Paxton’s statement says “while the City of Orange was reluctant to defend itself from legal action for its constitutionally permissible actions, I hope the Commissioners Court stands resolute in its decision to display the nativity scene outside the county courthouse.” Paxton further said these nativity displays can legally be located on government property and “there is no legal obligation to remove the nativity scene outside the county courthouse.” Read his full letter here.