Atheists Target A New Texas Town Over Public Reference To God
The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) is continuing its crusade against tiny Texas towns and religious displays, this time taking on the city of Hondo.
The small town is nestled an hour west of San Antonio on U.S. Route 90. Hondo has displayed two signs that read “Welcome — This Is God’s Country — Please Don’t Drive Through It Like Hell — Hondo, Texas” for around 80 years.
The playful warning is a staple and point of pride for the 9,000 residents of Hondo.
— Texas Independence (@TexIndependence) May 20, 2016
Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the FFRF, wrote Mayor James W. Danner on June 15 to request the signs be immediately taken down. She claims that the wording is “inappropriate” and “sends the message that non-believers are not welcome in the city.”
A news release on the FFRF website quoted Gaylor, saying, “Some people may want to flee ‘God’s Country’ faster than hell, Hondo officials could actually be encouraging drivers to speed with such signs.”
In response to the allegations, Danner told The Daily Caller that, “The signs have been up all these years and this is the first complaint we’ve had. Obviously 99.9 percent of people think it’s a good sign.”
This grievance comes on the heels of the FFRF’s dispute with Brewster County, about 350 miles west of Hondo, over cross decals that were displayed on deputy patrol cars. In response to the lawsuit, county commissioners met internally and voted to ban “political, religious, commercial or personal” displays on county property.
When asked about the Brewster County lawsuit, Mayor Danner jokingly said, “We have the same [God’s Country] sign on our police cars, so I guess they could come after us for that too!”
In late 2015, FFRF took on a similar sign in Hawkins, Texas, which read “Jesus Welcomes You To Hawkins.” The Hawkins city council voted to remove the sign in order to avoid a further issue.
Unlike Brewster County and Hawkins, the residents of Hondo have no intention of removing their signs. “There is no way our community is going to back down,” Danner said. “We’ve already begun the fight.”
While FFRF has not filed a lawsuit as of now, it is likely that they will do so in the near future.
Danner added, “Our signs have been up since the 1930s and, in our minds, they’ll stay up another 80 years.”