Texas Man Accused of Trying to "Destroy" Christian Beliefs for Objecting to Courthouse Nativity Scene

Keep Houston Press Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

Plastic Jesus is the reason for the season. Well, it's the reason for the season at one East Texas courthouse, anyway, where a religious battle royal is heating up between Christians and Atheists over some novelty-sized Christmas lawn ornaments.

On the lawn of the Cherokee County Courthouse there sits an over-sized nativity scene, and it's become the source of contention between county officials, who erected the display, and local resident Daniel Ross, who wants the thing to come down.

According to Ross, the display is unwelcoming toward non-Christians and individuals with no religion, like himself. Ross emailed the county judge and commissioners November 14th, asking to be allowed to display some symbols of his Atheist holiday, HumanLights, alongside the nativity scene.

And, as expected, someone with the county freaked about the request, and Ross is probably, most definitely on the dreaded naughty list now.

Ross's email said, in part:

"To help solve this, I would like to get a sign to be placed on the court house to represent HumanLight for Secular Humanists, Atheists, Agnostics, Skeptics, and the rest of the secular community. HumanLight is a secular holiday on December 23rd. It's designed to celebrate and express the positive, secular, human values of reason, compassion, humanity and hope. HumanLight illuminates a positive, secular vision of a happy, just and peaceful future for our world, a future which people can build by working together, drawing on the best of our human capacities. Thank you for taking your time to read this and let me know what time frame would be best to have a sign up next to the manger."

Judging by the response sent over to Ross a few days later from Commissioner Katharine Pinotti of Precinct 3, it appears the HumanLights display is probably not going to happen. Ross is, after all, trying to destroy Christianity with it...or something.

In her email, Pinotti accuses Ross of "trying to destroy and denigrate" Christian beliefs and also "attempting to infiltrate the Christmas holiday."

Mr. Ross,

Please know that I am replying to you ONLY as a resident and NOT as a representative of Cherokee County as I cannot speak for the court unilaterally. However, I did receive your email requesting to have a "Humanlights" sign erected next to our courthouse decorations and wanted to respond to you from a purely personal point of view.

December 23rd is merely a date selected by your organization to make a political statement of your choice not to celebrate traditional Christian beliefs. Perhaps you should consider choosing another time of the year to demonstrate your secular support instead of attempting to infiltrate the Christmas holiday with a singular purpose to destroy and denigrate the beliefs of others. Try to live and let live.

Katherine Pinotti

Those are some seriously important plastic figures, y'all.

Denied of the right to display those HumanLights symbols, Ross forwarded Pinotti's letter to the county judge and commissioners. According to Ross, he has yet to receive a response.

The American Humanist Association, a national Atheist group, sent a letter to Cherokee County officials Monday on Ross's behalf, and are now asking that the entire display be removed from the courthouse lawn immediately.

Well, here's to peace, goodwill, and plastic lawn ornaments. Tis the season.

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.