Thousands of "prayer warriors" gathered at the Henderson County, Texas, courthouse in Athens to protest the Freedom From Religion Foundation's demand that a nativity scene be removed from the public lawn. A judge ruled that the nativity scene can remain, and the rally was "to ensure that the decision stands."
The protesters signed a petition demanding that the nativity scene remain, listened to speakers and prayed.
"It is time to stand up for the Christian values and principles that we so strongly believe in," Nathan Lorick, pastor of First Baptist Church of Malakoff, proclaimed, rallying followers to applause.
"The cross is the reason we're here," explained a protester to Fox News. "I mean, this is his birth, and that is what we need to be celebrating, and we just pray for the people who don't believe."
Another, Billy McGlawn, added, "I was very proud of the citizens of this county to come out in these numbers."
Carla Barron hopes that the protesters' message will carry beyond Henderson County. "It's not about the nativity scene. It's all about Jesus. It's the reason that we celebrate Christmas. Jesus is Christmas."
"It is time to stand for faith, values and morals and lead our nation back to the God who has so abundantly blessed us," Lorick concluded to the crowd that the Baptist Press estimated to be 5,000. The Baptist Press reports that Lorick closed the rally with an appeal for Christians to no longer be "the silent majority" but rather to "take America back to a place of spiritual health and vitality" where "the truth of the Bible was not a mere afterthought but instead a foundational basis on which we live."
The Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF), which has challenged the nativity scene and also asked for its own banner promoting reason, reports that:
The community of Athens, Texas, and much of the country is in a state of hysteria over FFRF's very modest request to place an "equal time" Winter Solstice" banner by the nativity display on the Henderson County (Texas) Courthouse square. The FFRF office has been harassed off and on for a week by Texas crank callers (from "Don't mess with Texas" to "Don't you know what f**king Christmas is all about?") and some commissioners have said they'd put up our sign "when hell freezes over." About 5,000 "Christian soldiers" showed up in Athens to rally against FFRF on Saturday.