Church alleges ‘persecution’ after hazardous Jesus sign is removed

Church alleges ‘persecution’ after hazardous Jesus sign is removed July 3, 2019
Screenshot via KLTV

THE Jesus Christ Open Altar Church in Hawkins, Texas, has accused local authorities of a religious ‘hate crime’ after a garish Jesus sign was torn down last Friday.

The sign was erected by the church four years ago in the tiny town of 1,300 residents. However, the eyesore was judged to be a traffic safety hazard and removed.

Screenshot via KLTV

In a KLTV report on Monday, police chief Manfred Gilow, above, dismissed the church’s allegation that it had been targeted by anti-Christian town leaders. Noting that the Texas Department of Transportation forbids any visual obstructions for drivers within 50 feet of US Highway 80 he said:

Any structural sign on the property has to be removed. It was a Jesus sign, but it would have been any sign. It [religion] has nothing to do with it. As chief of police here, we’re just here to keep the peace, and we just respond. We did not know when (city workers) took it down.

This report claims that it was demolished in “the dead of night” and quoted church trustee Mark McDonald as saying:

The city employees destroyed our church property, pulled up our crosses and destroyed everything. We’re treating it like a hate crime of religious discrimination that was conspired by the city. We have enough documents to prove that. The city was warned (Thursday) by our attorneys not to touch it and not to bother it …

The city claims it held an easement on the property dating back to 1909, and officials are now looking to put a street where the sign stood.

Mayor Tom Parkers told KLTV that anti-Christian sentiment did not play a part in the city’s action to yank the sign.

All we’re concerned with is constructing a safe entrance onto Highway 80 from Blackburn Street.

Fox News reported the Freedom from Religion Foundation, (FFRF,) sent a letter to Hawkins complaining about the sign.

Said Mike Berry, Chief of Staff at First Liberty Institute which sniffs out Christian “persecution”:

FFRF has made its living roaming around the country trying to bully government officials into purging religious symbols from the public square — exactly what the US Supreme Court said should not be done. Just two weeks ago in The American Legion v. American Humanist Association the Court ruled that religious displays, even on public property, are presumptively constitutional.

The church certainly can make a case if the City’s decision to take this sign down is out of religious hostility or a false belief that religious displays are not allowed.

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  • johnsoncatman

    Just two weeks ago in The American Legion v. American Humanist Association the Court ruled that religious displays, even on public property, are presumptively constitutional.

    No one could have possibly predicted that christians would try to expand that ruling by placing their symbols in every public space.

  • Anri

    And anyone making the argument that the symbol itself, and the ruling for it was free from general secular consequence… well, there’s the answer.

  • rubaxter

    A leetle bitty man, in a leetle bitty town, in his leetle bitty head, with a leetle bitty ego.

    There’s a reason Leetle Towns are Leetle.

  • Jack the Sandwichmaker

    I’ll bet if it wasn’t a Christian sign, it wouldn’t have taken 4 years to tear it down.

    I think it’s cute, though, that thir lawyers “warned” the city not to touch it.

  • Delta

    He says people are persecuting his sign for being Christian… in a small town (population around 1200)… in Texas… right next to a Christian HBCU.

    Yup. That’s definitely what’s going on here! /s

  • sweeks

    Cue the Westboro Baptist church with a banner that says “This Is A Sign!”

  • zenlike

    Yeah, I didn’t take much time for christian supremacist groups to misrepresent that ruling. The SCOTUS might believe that they issued a “limited” ruling, but we all knew the christianists would see it as full-on endorsement.

  • persephone

    Matthew 6 definitely applies here. Anyone requiring some ridiculous sign to prove their faith is a loser. I saw a license plate frame about a month ago that read, “Know Jesus? It’s hell if you don’t.” This garbage isn’t going to get people into their dying churches.

  • Syzygy

    If it happens, it’s part of god’s plan. Right?

  • Syzygy

    I could have predicted that.
    No one asked me.

  • Duncan R. Bryson

    Noticed that. Like it was a court injunction.

  • Sau Peih

    For far too long, the religious have had the benefit of religious exemptions. And when they don’t always get the religious exemption they want, they claim “persecution”.

    Tell me, why can’t I be offended that I have to abide by the law (all laws) because I’m an atheist? I’m feeling rather persecuted.

  • Netizen_James

    Buddhism is a religion. Buddhism’s single tenet is that ‘life is suffering’. Can you really contend that that tenet is unproven? I would assert that ‘life is suffering’ is self-evident.

  • Mark B. Finn

    Obvious that there is no limit to the dimensions of the lies christian loudmouths will spout.

  • kerryberger

    Once again another Christian Church tries to use the false narrative of “Christian Persecution” in the United States. This is unconscionable for those Americans who have experienced genuine religious persecution or discrimination in other countries abroad, where such hate crimes against Christians and others commonly occur.

    In the USA, cases of religious persecution only occur against minority religions, NOT Christianity and it’s various denominations and sects. It is a part of our history of White Supremacism. This myth of alleged Christian persecution must be dispelled once and for all. It trivializes the genuine meaning of the word “persecution.”

    Enough is enough of these fallacious accusations. I believe those who “cry wolf” in this matter should be criminally prosecuted.

  • C_Alan_Nault

    “Church alleges ‘persecution’ ”

    It is the position of some theists that their right to freedom of religion is abridged when they are not allowed to violate the rationalists’ right to freedom from religion. ~James T. Green

    I am treated as evil by people who claim that they are being oppressed because they are not allowed to force me to practice what they do. ~D. Dale Gulledge

  • C_Alan_Nault

    Illegal religious display on public property. Problem solved.

  • Brien

    Irrelevant – a deflection!

  • zenlike

    It’s also just plain BS, Buddhism is much more than that, including many unsupported claims. Me thinks James is talking about a westernized and sanitized “yoga class ” pseudo-philosophical version of Buddhism.

  • Netizen_James

    People make so much more of it than it is. NO, there is not that much more than that. The Eightfold Path is solely about DEALING WITH the fact that life is suffering. No, there are no deities required in Buddhism (though some sects do have various ‘divine’ entities as part of their belief-sets) There only ‘claim’ of traditional Buddhism is that life is suffering. Other claims may be made by various sects, but that is the only claim which is common to all.

    See as an example.

  • Netizen_James

    It is a direct refutation of your assertion that all religions depend on evidence-less assertions. Not even hardly a deflection. Learn how to not make absurd generalities, and you won’t get called out when you do.

  • Netizen_James

    The assertion that Buddhism doesn’t ‘count’ as a ‘religion’ is based entirely on personal, private, or parochial definitions of common words and is thus false. Buddhism is a religion, just like Unitarianism is, and just like Humanism is. (note that not all atheists are Humanists – atheism isn’t a religion, just a ‘theological stance’) Belief in at least one deity is NOT a necessary characteristic of ‘religion’. Religion is about tenets, habits, and practices. No deities required.

    Is there some ‘authoritative’ definition of ‘religion’ that you’re using that requires a belief in deities? Please provide quote and link to source…Good luck with that. “The definition of religion is a controversial subject in religious studies with scholars failing to agree on any one definition.” (

    Why are you ignoring the many deities that are worshiped by various Buddhist sects: “Some devas venerated by Buddhists include Brahma, Sarasvati, Laksmi, Śakra, Hariti, Pattini, Saman and Ganesha.” (

  • Netizen_James

    Truth is always relevant. The point is that you made a false assertion, and are refusing to acknowledge that you are wrong. No, ‘religion’ does not require belief in a deity, and yes, Buddhism qualifies as a ‘religion’ even for those sects which do not believe in deities!

  • se habla espol

    I’m alive. I don’t suffer. thus, the claim is neither self-evidence nor true.