Athens Review, Athens, Texas

January 11, 2013

Enough already, Mr. Greene

Athens Daily Review

Athens — We were not surprised to hear reports that San Antonio atheist Patrick Greene has once again dropped a lawsuit related to the Nativity scene placed on the Henderson County Courthouse lawn each Christmas season.

In fact, we expected it.

Greene has been threatening legal action and filing lawsuits since his name became attached to the controversy regarding the Nativity scene — which earned international attention in 2011 when the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation tried to have it removed from the courthouse square.

Last February, Greene filed a complaint with the State Commission on Judicial Conduct against County Judge Richard Sanders after Sanders failed to remove a county commissioner who said the Nativity scene was only going to be taken down in one of two ways — “after Christmas, or when hell freezes over.”

Greene backed off, citing a health scare that potentially could have cost him his eyesight. Christians reached out in support, including members of Sand Springs Baptist Church in Athens, sending money to assist in the cost of medical care. The response initially led Greene to proclaim a newfound faith in Jesus Christ, but he later reneged and accused those sending money of trying to “buy him off.”

Last December, Greene — representing himself — filed a lawsuit in Bexar County against the City of Athens. His claim? That the city, by providing funds to Keep Athens Beautiful, was “instigating an atmosphere that gave the public the impression that government gave preference of one faith over all others.” Light Up Athens, which installs and takes down the Nativity scene each year, is a committee under the KAB umbrella.

Greene withdrew the suit after learning that Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott had asked for a copy of the suit.

A few weeks ago, he turned his crosshairs back on Sanders by filing another lawsuit in Bexar County — this time saying the county judge abused his position by giving private citizens permission to display the Nativity scene.

But earlier this week, he withdrew that suit, as well, saying he’s turning his attention to other legal matters not related to the Nativity scene, Athens or Henderson County.

Greene’s actions lack sincerity of purpose and smack of an attention-grab. We’ve grown tired of the charade, frankly, and don’t even want to imagine still wrangling over the Nativity scene in May when we’re corn-dogging it up at the Old Fiddler’s Reunion.

Our county and city officials — while standing firm — have extended to Greene courtesy and patience. Our church congregations have showed him uncommon kindness rooted in their faith.

We acknowledge everyone hasn’t been so courteous to him — including whoever reportedly carved the word “evil” into a doormat near his apartment. We condemn such mischief, for which there is no justification.

However, there also is no justification for Greene’s repeated, pesky efforts to harass the hard-working and honest people in our county.

Enough already, Mr. Greene. We’re moving on.