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Secularists Go After City's Welcome Sign

The city of Hawkins, TX is facing some heat over a city sign that reads "Jesus Welcomes You to Hawkins." In fact, the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s Staff Attorney Sam Grover has written a letter addressed to the members of the Hawkins City Council over a sign the council voted to allow on its land. According to FFRF, the city is violating the establishment clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which mandates a separation of church and state and prohibits government sponsorship of religion. Since the sign is displayed on public land, the letter argues that it is the same as government speech. FFRF also claims the city has displayed an “unconstitutional religious display on government property in the City of Hawkins.”

The sign was erected when Will Rogers, the mayor of Hawkins, participated in the community group that requested permission to use the land for the sign. The group also includes citizens, students and teachers from Hawkins school, and members from the chamber of commerce. The letter goes on to say “The ‘Jesus Welcomes You to Hawkins’ sign sends a message to the City’s citizens that the Hawkins government is endorsing and compelling belief in a particular god,” the letter reads. “Yet imagine the public outrage had the City posted a sign saying ‘Muhammad Welcomes You to Hawkins’ or, ‘No God Welcomes You to Hawkins.’”

In promoting one “particular God,” the letter says, “It is equally inflammatory and inappropriate to post a sign saying ‘Jesus Welcomes you to Hawkins.’”FFRF says they were contacted by a concerned resident. It also addresses the potential for maintaining the sign by having the city lease or gift the land to a church or private party. Hawkins has over a dozen Christian churches, and a majority of the residents identify themselves as Christians.

Photo: The Journal

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