Hondo’s “God’s Country” Signs Come Under Scrutiny

The Freedom From Religion Foundation demands their removal, but do the signs really make non-believers feel unwelcome?

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Wikicommons

After successfully forcing the East Texas town of Hawkins to take down a religious sign on public property, and forcing a draw in a battle over a cross in a public park in Port Neches, the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation has returned to Texas. This time, they have something of a roadside icon in their sights: the two-decades-old signs welcoming Highway 90 drivers to the southwest Texas town of Hondo that reads “Welcome: This is God’s Country. Please don’t drive through it like Hell. Hondo, Texas.”

In a letter to Hondo mayor James Danner, FFRF co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor writes:

It is inappropriate for the city of Hondo to display religious signs that convey government preference for religion over nonreligion. The display of the religious message ‘This Is God’s Country’ on public property violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, which prohibits public bodies from advancing, supporting, or promoting religion. It is also needlessly divisive, since it sends the message that nonbelievers are not welcome in the city.

“The message assumes a common god, yet imagine the public outrage had the city posted a sign that said, ‘This is Vishnu’s Country,’” Gaylor continued. “It is equally inflammatory and inappropriate to post a sign dedicating a city to the god of the bible.”

Gaylor went on to attempt a little humor.

Some people may want to flee ‘God’s Country’ faster than hell. Hondo officials could actually be encouraging drivers to speed with such signs.

The letter demands the immediate removal of the taxpayer-maintained signs from public property and likens them to the Hawkins sign, which reads: “Jesus Welcomes You to Hawkins.”

Which quite clearly does advance, support and promote Christianity. But do the Hondo signs send a similar message? Do they make non-believers feel unwelcome? Are they truly inflammatory?

Not to my mind. In trademark law, words can become generic and thus lose their protection. Aspirin, escalator, heroin, and thermos are all examples of words that were once protected as brands but have come to fill such holes in the English language that they’ve been collectively seized in order for us to communicate clearly and easily.

Unlike “Vishnu’s country,” the phrase “God’s country” occupies the same ground. It’s just a way to say a particular piece of land is beautiful. And, often as not, it’s used sarcastically to describe hideous hellscapes, like the chemical plant-strewn LaPorte Highway east of Houston, or I-35 between Austin and San Antonio. Not that the people of Hondo are calling their own hometown ugly, but often “God’s country” reminds me of how residents of Hereford will tell you that the stench billowing from the town’s many feedlots is “the smell of money.”

“God’s country” is no more an evangelical statement than the “God bless you” that follows a sneeze, and the idea that it would make a non-believer feel uncomfortable in Hondo is a stretch, to say the least.

What’s more, that “drive like Hell” part negates any religiosity one might try to find in the “God’s country” line. As opposed to a strictly religious context, using “hell” idiomatically would likely be regarded as cussing—a mere hair away, even, from taking the Lord’s name in vain—by the sort of sanctimonious preacher who would put up a “Jesus Welcomes You to Hawkins” sign. (Indeed, a 1971 Hondo Anvil-Herald article recalled that local church folks managed to get the “blasphemous” signs taken down for a time, but enough of Hondo’s “heathens, blasphemers, and just plain lovers of clever signs sent their shouts skywards” to see it that they were returned.)

Which brings up a point. You’d be hard-pressed to find a sign like Hondo’s in East Texas; in Southwest Texas it fits right in. It’s cowboy talk, not beyond-the-Pine-Curtain evangelism.

Finally, there is overall intent. What are these signs supposed to suggest? As Hondo city manager Frank Garza has pointed out, the message is driver safety, not religiosity. “God’s country” is just a throwaway phrase en route to a punchline, not a declaration of faith like “In God We Trust” or “One Nation, Under God.”

In many cases, the FFRF plays an important role in keeping church and state separate. Right now, they are battling a public high school in rural Tennessee that runs Bible verses on its website and where adults openly run prayer meetings during school hours; they’re fighting a chain of publicly-funded Texas charter schools run by an evangelist and shot through with Christian messages; and they’re taking on the Catholic church in Pennsylvania over its opposition to stricter enforcement of child sex abuse laws.

These are important battles and the FFRF is fighting them on firm First Amendment grounds. Public schools should not teach religion, and politics should not be preached from the pulpit, as the FFRF alleges is occurring in Pennsylvania.

But the signs in Hondo are neither significant nor unconstitutional. They merely employ a colloquialism in a joke that encourages driver safety. This effort to bring down the signs makes the FFRF seems petty, humorless, overreaching, and possessed of a lack better things to do, which they decidedly are not.

Often those that find themselves in the FFRF’s crosshairs realize (or become persuaded by lawyers) that they are on shaky constitutional ground, and rather than risking losing taxpayer money in expensive lawsuits, accede to the freethinkers, and rightly so.

That might not be the scenario in Hondo.

“There’s no way in hell we’re going to take those signs down,” Mayor Danner said earlier this week. They are a point of pride for the town. They’ve been up for more than 80 years and are enshrined on postcards. Tourists pose for pictures next to them. Hondo’s Wikipedia entry, in which the signs are modestly described as “somewhat famous,” points out that they have appeared in National Geographic and Little Texas’s now hilariously-dated video for “God Blessed Texas.”

Houston trial attorney and First Amendment expert David Furlow has an interesting take on the signs. Namely, that America’s earliest religious leaders would have seen them as an abominable sin that would do nothing but tempt heavenly vengeance:

“Roger Williams, William Bradford of Plymouth Plantation, and John Winthrop of the Massachusetts Bay Colony all would have been utterly appalled that somebody would paint a sign saying ‘This is God’s Country,’” he tells Texas Monthly. “They would have lived in daily fear that the Almighty would have brought them a plague or an earthquake to smite them for their arrogance.”

Joking aside, Furlow believes that from a strictly legal point of view, “If a private person or church put that on a private billboard, it would be absolutely protected under the First Amendment. However, if it’s the state putting it up there, and if it’s taken seriously, which I don’t, it would be a violation of First Amendment church/state separation and under similar provisions of the Texas state constitution.”

“Now, is it worth litigating over?” he continues. “I respect the Freedom From Religion Foundation, but in my opinion the answer would be no.”

So far, the FFRF has declined to say whether or not they intend to sue over the matter. Stay tuned.

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  • Walt Longmire

    Funny, really, and a kind of decisive conclusion that the Freedom from Religion Foundation is a total sham. THIS is what they have?

    • Dallas Man

      I hear ya, Walt! Dang liberals! I’m Dallas Man! I live in Preston Hollow.

      • Frank Dorka

        You call that living???

    • Frank Dorka

      FFRF wins it’s cases. Are you willing to pay for the judgment or will the Mayor?

    • Kevin R. Cross

      This is what they have HERE. And while it may be minor, every case these days has importance.

  • Maureen Demar Hall

    Hey, I’m a liberal AND an atheist, I have no problem with these signs, get a grip people, think of the intent not a knee jerk reaction!

    • Frank Dorka

      Think of the atheist tax dollars going to support Christian privilege.

      • Keith

        Frank Dorka almost makes me ashamed to be an atheist. Read the article, it’s a stupid lawsuit and you are a narrow-minded person.

        • You don’t see the need or value in FFRF complaining about a couple religious signs when there are so many other issues that they could be addressing, right?

          But the reality is that they do address those other issues. FFRF works on well over 1,000 state/church issues each year. And yes, some of those issues seem small compared to preferential treatment for churches, religious promotion in public schools, or discrimination against atheist speech. But even ignoring the sheer volume of their legal complaints and victories, there’s still a good argument for why they must “Sweat the Small Stuff,” as FFRF Staff Attorney Andrew Seidel explains in his talk by that title. It’s on YouTube if you care to watch, but if you don’t have 51 minutes to spare, the point is that each small violation that we suffer in silence becomes the justification for larger violations in the future.

          • Frank Dorka

            FFRF is not just for atheists. It’s for anyone that believes in the standards of the Constitution and the following of the forefather’s original intentions.

          • Kmom

            Standards of the Constitution? Freedom OF religion, not freedom from religion.

          • Granddad

            What they really need to address is why does the IRS exempt religious institutions from income taxes. Let’s face it, they are all just indoctrination centers, and they take in huge amounts of money. I’m referring to ALL, not just the christian ones.

          • Preaching to the choir there!!!

            In order to keep their 501c3 tax-exempt status, they’re not supposed to participate in political campaigns. But they do so ALL the time (and never get called on it due to the extremely limited auditing power the IRS has with churches), so yeah, let’s tax ’em!

          • Robert Karma

            Donald Trump has promised Evangelicals that he will overturn such rules to allow religious groups to openly lobby on political issues without any limitations now found with tax-exempt groups. Sadly, you’re correct that currently, it is rare for a religious non-profit to have their tax-exempt status challenged by their political actions. Here I thought President Obama was going to put all good Christians in FEMA reeducation camps, confiscate their Bibles and close down churches. Yet another failure of his administration… lol.

          • One more reason (of many millions) to not vote for Trump!

            And yeah, whatever happened to those FEMA camps? Why aren’t we all Muslim yet?

          • Robert Karma

            Maybe we are all Muslim but Obama was so good at converting us we never noticed! Or maybe we are actually in the Matrix while Obama and his minions are using our bodies as batteries to power their evil machines! It certainly can’t be that all of the dire predictions made by the radical right-wing since Obama took office were absolutely baseless and without merit… can it?

          • Mari DuBois

            Is that what you were hoping for?

          • #sarcasm

            Some people just don’t get it.

          • Mari DuBois

            That would have been a grave mistake

          • BB53

            The saddest thing is that people are so stupid they don’t realize that Drumpf has no ability to make such dictatorial changes to our freedom from religion.

          • Robert Karma

            The Republicans in Congress would gladly vote to establish the Christian version of Sharia Law and they would gladly install Trump’s extremist SCOTUS nominees which would eliminate the checks and balances that have kept us free. So Trump can just wave his fairy wand and make it so but his Republican enablers would certainly work as fast as they could to destroy the Constitution except for the 2nd Amendment.

          • Retributer

            No they’re not. Clowns like Robert Karma believe that people are stupider than he is, so he spouts that crap. It’s the low information voter he’s “preaching” to, and they will vote for the Clinton Crook anyway!

          • Mari DuBois

            We are an organization that takes care of people, a charity group.

          • Granddad

            LOL! As long as everyone exactly agrees with you. Personally, I see most religious groups as just a bunch of hate mongering bigots.

          • Mari DuBois

            What larger violations have you suffered?

          • Oh, I could write a whole book on that! Government funding (using my tax dollars) of religious schools and religious social service providers. Religious activity in the public schools, such as prayer at school-sponsored events. Religious displays on government property, including but not limited to courthouses, schools, military bases, etc. “Prayer breakfasts” endorsed by government officials and/or financed with government funds. Formal proclamations by government officials exhorting citizens to pray. Explicitly sectarian prayers at the openings of meetings of government bodies (such as my local City Council and School Board). Government funding of religious hospitals (especially Catholic-run) that refuse to provide certain kinds of reproductive health care services for religious reasons. Statutory exemptions that allow religious organizations to discriminate in employment based on criteria other than religion with respect to non-religious positions. Tax exemptions for religious organizations that are not also applicable to secular non-profit organizations.

        • Frank Dorka

          I’ve been called much worse…by Christians. You shouldn’t be an atheist if you do not have the backbone for it. Why not be an agnostic? They are happy by not having to commit.

        • Notagod

          Then the christians need to feel comfortable with signs that state “This is atheist country” if they find that acceptable, I’ll consider your complaint somewhat legitimate.

          However, look at the comments from christians in this comment section. Any thought that the sign is less than christian privilege is completely overshadowed by their christian nation syndrome.

      • Mari DuBois

        There is no Christian privilege. It is harassment. You pick on the tiniest things to try to deny our speech & beliefs. I believe that Hondo will mop the floor with you.

        • Robert Karma

          There is the myth of Christian persecution that drives the narrative of the Religious Right in this country. Some Christians assume that by not getting to violate the rights of their fellow Americans, by having special privileges, they are somehow being persecuted. When in reality, they are finally being held to the same standard of law the rest of the American people follow. A Christian who supports having the government provide welfare for their religious belief needs to reflect on this statement from Benjamin Franklin regarding the matter, “When a religion is good, I conceive it will support itself; and when it does not support itself, and God does not take care to support it so that its professors are obligated to call for help of the civil power, it’s a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one.” (letter to Richard Price, October 9, 1780)

    • 2A_Advocate

      So, you still have one thing wrong with you. LOL

      • Agreed, the one thing wrong being that she has no problem with these signs.

        • 2A_Advocate

          You both have the same thing wrong besides these signs.

          • In your opinion. But that doesn’t make for an official diagnosis.

  • Marsha Seder-Craighead

    If people like the FFRF want the sign taken down for what ever hair brained reason. If you are offended by the sign… take a different route!!! Our country wouldn’t be in the perils that it is in if we stood up to the “bullies” and put GOD first, instead of taking him out of every aspect of our lives. Next these jerks are gonna want me to get rid of my bible that I keep in my car because they may see it walking past my car. Just as I will fight for my rights on my guns, and free speech… I will also fight for GOD!

    • Why would you need to fight for God, a supposedly omnipotent being? Can he not defend himself?

      • Marsha Seder-Craighead

        Because unlike the damn atheists…. GOD needs to be back in our lives, our schools, our pledges!!!! I will fight for my right to say the Pledge of Allegiance using the phrase ONE NATION UNDER GOD… I will fight for prayer in school for those wanting to pray… I will fight the 10 commandments in Courthouses. And if by saying that I will fight for GOD made it sound like God can not defend himself… I am in the wrong…. but dammit…. just because you as an atheist are afraid or your feelings are hurt or what ever excuse you want to use to have GOD taken out of EVERYTHING….. Suck it up buttercup!!!! The world doesn’t revolve around the Atheist, non believers… etc. GOD is a non-religious terms… unlike Jesus Christ, Jehovah, Allah, etc.

        • Calm down, sparky… no one is trying to take away your precious faith. We just want the government to remain neutral on matters of religion. Our feelings aren’t hurt, and we’re not offended, but your feelings are clearly hurt and you’re quite obviously offended. Try to take a step back and look at this from a different perspective… If the government were putting up signs that professed faith in Mohammed or Allah or Zeus or Odin, or even telling you that there’s no god at all, wouldn’t you want them to stop? Keeping that in mind, wouldn’t it be better for everyone if the government were to remain neutral on matters of religion? Not anti-religious, just neutral. That’s all we’re looking for. Neutrality. Peace.

          And no, “god” is not a non-religious term. It serves no other purpose than to express a religious idea. Check your dictionary.

          • 2A_Advocate

            In that the sign includes both God and Hell, it kinda balances out. And a dictionary was not inspired by faith in God. LOL

          • George T

            2A_Advocate: Your English teachers have done you a disservice.

          • Balances out? How? By using 2 solely religious terms?

            And no, the dictionary is not inspired by some insipid belief in supernatural nonsense.

            Still, you have not proven that “god” is a non-religious term. You fail it, son.

          • 2A_Advocate

            Nice portrait of your Mom, funruckus. Only, there are two balls in front of her face. LOL

          • Keeping it classy… Why don’t you go exercise your 2A rights on yourself, preferably out behind a shed somewhere.

          • 2A_Advocate

            Very classy Liberal response. You put a pic of your mommy. I insult her. You tell me to go kill myself. LOL What a eunuch!

          • Liberal? Where? You assume too much, as I’ve made no mention of my political leanings, except perhaps stating that I’ve never registered with either of the 2 major political parties, I’ve only ever been registered as an independent.

            But you’re right, little kids shouldn’t play with guns, so put it back in your cuck-daddy’s drawer, and go play on the freeway. Run along, you little scamp. 🙂

          • 2A_Advocate

            It’s how liberals respond. You’re a liberal. That’s what liberals say to gun owners. All the time, without fail. Nimrod.

          • It’s how liberals respond, to you. I’ve had both liberals and conservatives respond to me in the exact same way. You think you have me pegged because of my 2A comment, but I was merely making fun of your one-track-mindedness as exhibited by your chosen username. I shouldn’t have expected you to get that though, considering your 3rd grade education, little guy.

            So, again, you assume too much, as I’ve made no real mention of my political leanings. But you go ahead and keep thinking what you’re thinking, as I know it would probably give you a massive stroke to even begin to think about changing your mind on anything.

            Cheers, kiddo!

          • 2A_Advocate

            SO, in other words, because others have told you to go kill yourself, you think that’s an appropriate part of conversing with others?? LOL Liberals ALSO blame other people for their personal conduct. You’ve proven yourself to be a Liberal. Too many times. Nimrod. LOL

          • Appropriate? No, it’s just how I deal with small-minded trolls like you.

            I’m glad you think of me as such a mighty hunter, but your assessments simply have no merit.

          • 2A_Advocate

            “Troll” is the last thing Liberals say to someone when they have nothing else to say. LOL LOL Now you’ll report me for posting the private pic of your ambiguous genitalia that you sent me via your Mom.

          • 2A_Advocate

            funruckus = eunuch.

          • Those are some pretty big words for a Conservative 3rd-grader… Did you actually manage to wipe the drool from your mouth long enough to make it to 4th grade? Congrats!

          • 2A_Advocate

            Here’s your genitalia your Mom forwarded to me – your ambiguous genitalia. Big words for me … tiny genitalia for you, boy. Nimrod.

          • BB53

            You think every time someone swears by using the words “God” or “Hell” that they’re proselytizing for religion? Like the piece above states, “God’s country” is a common term and “Hell” is a common word and the sign does NOT advocate religion in any way.
            I’m all for the FFRF, but this one is a surefire loser and not worth arguing about.

          • “You think every time someone swears by using the words “God” or “Hell” that they’re proselytizing for religion?”

            No, that’s in a different context.

            “… “God’s country” is a common term …”

            For religious people.

            The fact is, a religious sign is being paid for with tax money. That’s illegal. Surefire loser? We’ll see what the courts decide. Not worth arguing about? In your opinion. You may feel comfortable giving leeway in religious encroachment, but I am not. Following the NRA and other 2nd Amendment advocates lead, I’ll never give them an inch.

          • 2A_Advocate

            Funruckus is a religious man.

          • Citation? No?

            “Funruckus is a non-religious person.”

            There, I fixed that for you, especially since I’ve made no mention of my gender, but for some reason you assume that I’m a man, despite your constant insistence/attacks that I’m a eunuch, or that I have ambiguous genitalia, etc. If you’re going to stay consistent with all of these ad hominem attacks, you should really make up your mind…

        • Robert Karma

          You can have all the “God” you want in your private life. You can believe in whatever version of “God” you desire. You can read whatever “holy” book you feel to be the divinely inspired word of your “God.” As an American citizen, what you cannot do is use the authority of the government to fore your deeply held personal supernatural beliefs onto anyone else. So no forced prayers in public schools. If you want to visit a private religious school and pray with them, feel free to do so. The phrase “Under God” was a myopic and panicked response to the threat posed by the Soviet Union during the Eisenhower years. The original Pledge of Allegiance that got us through WWII just fine, did not have the words “under God” in them. Watch children recite the unadulterated Pledge here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BpScApJXoyk. The Founding Fathers’ gave us the inclusive national motto, “e pluribus unum” or Out of Many, One. So enjoy your religious freedom but realize that applies to every American and not just Christians. We are all free to follow the dictates of our conscience and believe in the supernatural or to accept reason without interference from the government. Yea ‘Murica!

        • Jed

          replace every use in your rant of the word atheist with christian, and you might see your own point. of course god is a religious term.

          or do you not mind when atheists say “god damn!”?

          can’t have it both ways.

          • Marsha Seder-Craighead

            Y’all do as ya please. Y’all will be the ones waltzing with the devil, not me.
            Believe me when I say “GOD have mercy on your souls”.

          • Jed

            believe me when i say if we could do as we please, we would hear a lot less of you inserting your fairy tales into our lives.

            instead of preaching at me, you might do us all a favor and go re-read your new testament.

    • Kevin R. Cross

      If you dislike basic US law, why are you in the US?

  • 2A_Advocate

    Loretta Lynch changed Allah to God and nobody complained.

    • “Allah” is the Arabic word for “God” … so what you’re saying is that Loretta Lynch chose to speak English.

      • 2A_Advocate

        Nope. Allah is the prophet Muhammed’s word for his God. God is the one true God and God is His name. Allah is not God’s name. See the story about Jacob and Ishmael in the Bible. You look it up, because anything I tell you, you won’t believe anyway, because you’re all for Allah being the same as God. So there.

        • Kevin R. Cross

          Actually, funruckus is right. Allah isn’t a name at all, it literally does just mean “God”.

          • 2A_Advocate

            Yeah. The sky is God … the Moon … the Earth … the eagle … the Sun … they are all Gods to some, but you koo-koos still don’t get that there is only one true God: God. It is not Allah. No matter what you say. It’s like this: I just wrote that you are koo-koos, so you are thinking just because I say you are does not mean you are. But, you are.

          • George T

            2A_Advocate: Expert opinion on koo-koos noted. Anything useful to share regarding this situation?

          • 2A_Advocate

            Georgey, I know an asshole online or offline too. Asshole. LOL

          • George T

            2A_Advocate: Apparently you’re a failure at that as well (^_^)

          • Kevin R. Cross

            No, you are a believer, and thus blind on this topic. The reality is that the word “Allah” just means “God”, and nothing else, just as your term”God” just means “God”. If you want to designate Jehovah/Yahweh/ The God of Abraham/Whatever deity of your choice, be specific. “Allah”, “God”, “Deus” – all generic.

          • 2A_Advocate

            Allah is not God. Doesn’t matter what you say.

          • Kevin R. Cross

            Allah is the Arabic word for God. It does not matter what you believe, that is the fact of the matter.

          • 2A_Advocate

            Oh ,,, I forgot. You must be Arab. Or … an atheist who doesn’t believe in God, but you are acknowledging God anyway, or you wouldn’t be here. I can imagine when you pray:
            Kevin Cross: “Dear Allah … forgive me because I worship Allah, and not the one true God. Amen. Or, Allah … shouldn’t I be saying ‘Aloha Snackbar?'” LOL

          • Kevin R. Cross

            I don’t believe in any god or gods. That doesn’t change what the word for god is in Arabic in any way, any more than your silly sarcasm does. The word is “Allah”.

          • 2A_Advocate

            Well, then … there you have it. You’re more intelligent than everyone AND a boy of absolutely no faith in God, so your opinion here is of no consequence, but to yourself. LOL In peculiar fashion, if you do not believe in God, why do you acknowledge God’s existence by arguing He does not exist? Nimrod. See discussion with funruckus for our discussion on Nimrod.

          • Kevin R. Cross

            I don’t argue that god does not exist. I’m an Atheist – that’s all. You can believe whatever you like – it really has no effect on me, and I really don’t care.
            What I do care about are things that emerge from that belief and impinge on my life. Like things that damage the church-state separation (because I love my country and I want it to not fall into old mistakes), or outright lies. Like denying that the word “Allah”, in Arabic, means god. And nothing you dredge up, no sarcasm or argument, will change that from being the case.

          • 2A_Advocate

            Yes, you argue that God does not exist. Otherwise, why are you acknowledging God in a discussion where you say God does not exist? It DOES have an effect on you, otherwise, you would not have to say “it really has no effect on me.” If you were a true atheist, you would ride through town saying to yourself, “Those poor lost Christians. They have no idea there is no God,” and leave it at that. Only then would it have no effect on you. But, you are letting it affect you, probably to the point you can’t sleep at night. It torments you. I have to use sarcasm to make fun of you, because you’re a pre-adolescent little eunuch, who will not change because you have no moral compass. Nimrod. I already KNOW nothing I write to you will change you. But, it DOES affect you. LOL

          • Kevin R. Cross

            No, not really. IF (and it’s a big if) Christians didn’t shove their beliefs at me every single day, and basically let me be, I don’t think I’d consider their religion, well, ever, except maybe when discussing things like comparative theology, I suppose.
            But, you won’t. Christianity is everywhere, on TV, on billboards, pretty much everywhere. But, you know something? I can live with it, generally – the majority of people in my nation are Christians, and I’m no Don Quixote to go tilting at windmills. So I restrict myself to church-state separation issues and trying to make sure that truth and reality come out on top. What people believe? Who cares.
            Oh, and really, work on your insults. At the moment they’re telling me more about your immature thought processes and ideology than bothering me. Like that “no moral compass” jibe – that tells me you’re officially a follower of Divine Command Theory or some similar, poorly considered “sheeple” moral code, based on an external source of behavioural conditioning, probably predicated on some overly simplistic good-evil dichotomy that doesn’t deal well with the reality of the shades of grey real life tends to throw at you. As a result, you almost certainly actually use a more secular and nuanced moral code based on your own good judgement and the civil structure around you in your day to day life, but only have to acknowledge the difference between what you actually follow and what you think you should when they conflict. And you probably rationalize away such conflicts when they do occur.
            (Just as an aside, I actually follow a rational ethical code based on the concepts of minimizing harm and maximizing happiness.)
            And none of this changes the fact that Allah means god in Arabic.

          • 2A_Advocate

            Without reading your 500-word essay (just the first two lines): I haven’t shoved my beliefs at you. I just wrote Allah is not God. And I’m not taking an atheist’s word for anything. When you become an Arab, then engage me again. LOL “Le me be me!” LOL I have a 17-year-old boy who wants me to let him be himself. LOL So, you essentially sound like a 17-year-old boy. Anybody who has to say, “Let me be me,” has a serious problem being themselves. LOL

          • Kevin R. Cross

            Actually, I said “let me be”, as in, leave me alone. But I suppose nuance is beyond you.
            As to the rest, if you are unable to read past a first grade level, that is not my problem.
            And you’re still wrong. Allah still means God, despite all the irrelevant silliness you write.

          • 2A_Advocate

            Actually you did when you wrote, “IF (and it’s a big if) Christians didn’t shove their beliefs at me every single day, and basically let me be …”

            Another liar.

            “let me be,” vs. “leave me alone.” LOL This kumquat continues to engage others and argues semantics while HE wants to be left along. LOL

          • Kevin R. Cross

            Boy, your ability to understand plain English is pretty poor, isn’t it? Let me spell it out for you in little words you can understand: If idiots like you would stop doing stupid things like lying about clear and well established facts, I wouldn’t have to correct you all the time. As in this case, where you are lying about “Allah” being the Arabic word for “God”.
            Also, consider the very first word in the sentence YOU quoted. “IF”. Because it honestly never does happen.
            You did get past grade school, right?

          • 2A_Advocate

            This time, I didn’t read any of your reply, boy … just skipped to the last sentence. Yes, I finished grade school. LOL Nimrod.

          • Kevin R. Cross

            Then you’ve just basically told me that you are worthless. One so afraid of ideas as to refuse to read is of no value to anyone.

          • 2A_Advocate

            Ummm … You don’t have any ideas, eunuch. You are a craven.

          • Kevin R. Cross

            Wow, really reaching. Not to mention another English fail.
            Your fear comes through with every line you write. You try to mask it with bravado, but you haven’t the skill to pull it off. And your fear makes you worthless, makes you nothing.
            I don’t know what it is you fear, but it controls you. It is the source of your failure.

          • 2A_Advocate

            All I need is one line for a eunuch and a craven. LOL

          • Kevin R. Cross

            One line to show your ignorance and fearfulness of another? Apparently so.

            Also, Allah is still the Arabic word for God.

          • 2A_Advocate

            Kevin R. Cross = eunuch and craven.

          • Kevin R. Cross

            Do you not realize, or do you not care, that none of that makes any sense at all?
            You reply to a simple correction with mindless inanity.

          • 2A_Advocate

            Ummm … nonbelievers do not correct believers. It does not negate the fact that you are a craven and a eunuch. Here is a pic of a eunuch if you don’t get the point. Notice the genital area. There are no genitals. And Allah is not God. God is God.

          • Kevin R. Cross

            Actually, that’s a picture of a doll. A eunuch must have had testicles at some point (emasculation – removal of the penis – was only done in a minority of cases).
            And as you can see from the above, this non-believer has, does, and will continue to correct any believer, any time they get something wrong – as you have repeatedly done in this case.

          • 2A_Advocate

            You are right. Here’s your pic after removal of your genitals. In this pic, you have been emasculated. **** Been made a eunuch. **** No balls, and a little pee tube you use for the bathroom. LOL You can’t come back better, ever, no matter how you try. LOL You’re just not clever enough, Kevvy-boy.

            Kevin R. Cross = ambiguous genitalia.

          • 2A_Advocate

            You are correct. That is a representative pic of your emasculation. Similar to what I do to you with each and every reply.

            I didn’t want to do this, but your Mom sent me a pic of your genitalia after removal, because you grew up to be such a sissy.

            This is an actual medical procedure picture, so don’t fret.

            At your Mom’s request, the docs left a little pee tube there for ya!

            Kevin R. Cross = eunuch

          • Kevin R. Cross

            Flagged. Should any moderators see this, I urge immediate ban.

          • 2A_Advocate

            Disqus does not ban people. Touché … LOL

          • Kevin R. Cross

            Mods do regarding specific threads, Troll.

          • 2A_Advocate

            If they did, you’d be gone. I took this pic of your mom as she was taking it.

          • 2A_Advocate

            Oh, boy …

          • 2A_Advocate

            You are correct. That is a representative pic of your emasculation. Similar to what I do to you with each and every reply.

            I didn’t want to do this, but your Mom sent me a pic of your genitalia after removal, because you grew up to be such a sissy.

            This is an actual medical procedure picture, so don’t fret.

            At your Mom’s request, the docs left a little pee tube there for ya!

            Kevin R. Cross = eunuch

          • Kevin R. Cross

            Eff off Troll

          • 2A_Advocate

            Please ignore (or better, ban) the annoying barnacle of a Troll above. It seems to have attached itself to me in some demented attempt to gain relevance. x14

          • 2A_Advocate

            You are right. Here’s your pic after removal of your genitals. In this pic, you have been emasculated. **** Been made a eunuch. **** No balls, and a little pee tube you use for the bathroom. LOL You can’t come back better, ever, no matter how you try. LOL You’re just not clever enough, Kevvy-boy.

            Kevin R. Cross = ambiguous genitalia.

          • Kevin R. Cross

            Eff off, Troll.

          • 2A_Advocate

            Flagged and reported as a troll.

          • 2A_Advocate

            Please ignore (or better, ban) the annoying barnacle of a Troll above. It seems to have attached itself to me in some demented attempt to gain relevance. x5

          • 2A_Advocate

            That is a representative picture of your emasculation, boy.

          • 2A_Advocate

            That is a representative pic of your emasculation.

          • Kevin R. Cross

            Ah, just a trolling moron, then. As I said, worthless.

          • 2A_Advocate

            SO, how does you following me around and going back and forth with me about your Mom and you being eunuch make ME the troll?

          • Kevin R. Cross

            I’ve given you reasoned argument. You’ve responded with immaturity, childish outbursts, and when you had no argument, astonishingly stupid insults. Troll.

          • 2A_Advocate

            Your reasoned argument is : Allah is God. You’re an a__clown. But, I’ve got a solution for you: pucker your lips and press them against my butt. LOL

          • Kevin R. Cross

            And you lie. Eff off Troll.

          • 2A_Advocate

            You only argued that Allah is God. God is God. You lose. Loser.

          • Kevin R. Cross

            And you are still, and will forever be, completely wrong, Troll. Allah is the Arabic word for God and nothing you can do or say will ever change that.

          • 2A_Advocate

            You can’t change either. LOL

          • 2A_Advocate
          • 2A_Advocate
          • Kevin R. Cross

            Well, why not? I AM your superior. You keep proving it.

          • 2A_Advocate
          • 2A_Advocate

            Please ignore (or better, ban) the annoying barnacle of a Troll above. It seems to have attached itself to me in some demented attempt to gain relevance. x10

          • tatoo

            But which one is the one true god? Brahma? Ahura Mazda? Zeus? Superman?

        • tatoo

          You mean Yahweh, don’t you? Or Elohim? They didn’t speak Envlish in ancient Israel.

          • 2A_Advocate

            That much is true. Allah is still not God.

          • George T

            2A_Advocate: Well, there is no god or gods. …but the word Allah is literally the word *god* in another language. In Japanese the word is *kami*.

        • Wow, you’re really quite dense. You should really read up on the history of the god of Abraham and the languages of the Middle East before making such asinine assertions.

          • 2A_Advocate

            Dense man, Allah is not God. I told you See the story about Jacob and Ishmael in the Bible. Follow the conversation. Nimrod. There’s a Bible name just for you.

          • Yeah, that name doesn’t mean what you think it means, your ignorance is quite astounding… though I guess I shouldn’t be surprised considering your one track mind.

          • 2A_Advocate

            Yes, you are super intelligent. Much smarter than I. Your faith in Allah, the lord of terrorists, is simply astounding. Mind boggling, to say the least. All praise funruckus; with a very small “f.” LOL It means what it means. Nimrod. Rebellious against God. That’s you. Lover of Allah. Man of the terroristic, religion of peace. funruckus = Nimrod.

          • My faith in Allah? What faith? Atheists lack any faith, so you’re not making any sense. Perhaps you should get to an AA meeting.

            But yes, it means what it means. Nimrod = Mighty Hunter. That’s me? Not so much. I used to hunt, but I don’t have much time for it anymore, though I still do enjoy the venison and bear meat from my family members that do still go hunting.

          • 2A_Advocate

            It doesn’t only mean mighty hunter. Nimrod. I’ll continue to call you Nimrod until you get it right. I gave you the definition. Nimrod. LOL

          • Yes, that’s actually all it means, unless you take your language cues from Bugs Bunny cartoons, like the child you clearly are.

            You gave no definition, you gave only an incomprehensibly drunken rant regarding how, in some insane leap of non-logic, that being an atheist somehow makes me a Muslim… Please come back and try to express yourself properly after you’ve taken some remedial English courses, because you’re just not making any sense at all anymore.

            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/82b06fe28c21853e94b5175126c0fd76467bf8c229d7438840ea262731c9aa40.jpg

          • 2A_Advocate

            Nice graduation pic of funruckus. LOL You REALLY should go look up ALL the definitions of Nimrod, Nimrod, not just the one that suits your pre-adolescent argument. LOL

          • Pre-adolescent? That’s amusing, considering every one of your semi-coherent arguments has basically amounted to “I know you are, but what am I?” Run along, little boy.

          • 2A_Advocate

            Thank you, Pee-Wee. I meant to do that. I think you get it now. Nimrod. LOL

          • You meant to argue like a child? Yes, I do get it now, you’re a simpleton. That’s okay though, the world needs ditch-diggers. Cheers, Corky. 🙂

          • 2A_Advocate

            I’m your Daddy, boy. I earn $130 grand a year, own three house, 5 cars, two boats. I don’t think I’m a ditch digger. Eunuch.

  • Robert Karma

    If a sign is put up by the government using taxpayer money, it can’t promote a religious message. Clearly the concepts of “God’s Country” and “Hell” are religious in nature. It’s disingenuous to try to claim that such wording is a secular colloquialism given how people understand such language. The government isn’t there to spread the message “God Bless You” if you sneeze as the government is not a person. If a private business or a private citizen wants to put up such a sign on their property, they are free to do so. It is the Constitution, the is the law and it’s just that simple. It has nothing to do with being offended or politically correct. The FFRF is simply standing up for our secular Constitution principles which is what responsible citizens do in a Republic. Move the sign to a museum or onto private property and the problem is solved. That way, Hondo gets to have its tourist attraction without violating the Constitution.

    • Guzzman

      Totally agree. What is their legal rebuttal, that the terms “God” and “Hell” lack any religious meaning or significance? If you give religious folks an inch, they will take a mile and so much more. This is why we have a religious national motto and god in our Pledge of Allegiance, because mottoes and pledges were thought to be meaningless, ceremonial trifles. But these blatant violations of the Establishment Clause are now used by Christian nationalists to make the claim that there is no separation of church and state, because “we have God on our money.” Thiese seemingly tiny exceptions can be given the force of law in a heartbeat.

    • 2A_Advocate

      You don’t like it, keep driving through. LOL

      • Guzzman

        That doesn’t resolve the problem for the citizens of Hondo who complained – they don’t have the option of leaving town. The problem is that government is taking sides on a religious matter, a matter they have no constitutional authority to address. The solution is to post a welcome sign that advocates safe driving without dragging religion into it.

        • Mari DuBois

          I had not heard that Hondo was holding hostages, those who had no option of leaving town. They should not feel compelled to leave.

          • George T

            Mari DuBois: I had not heard of any 1st amendment violation that required hostages to be involved for an endorsement of religion to be addressed.

          • Guzzman

            I responded to 2A_Advocate who said that if people don’t like the “God’s Country” sign, they should leave town. The people who complained are city residents, so why should they have to uproot themselves and their families just because their local government chooses to violate the Constitution?

            “If you don’t like it then leave” – so the solution is to just get rid of the people who spoke up, and allow the legal violation to continue? That sort of “run ’em out of town” reaction is precisely why courts have to protect the identities of complainants, because religious extremists are known to threaten people who are doing nothing more than standing up for their constitutional rights.

          • 2A_Advocate

            I never wrote that people should leave town, which makes you a liar. I told you that if you don’t like it, drive on through. If you were an actual resident of the town, you would not have a problem with the sign. LOL

          • Guzzman

            You wrote that if people don’t like the sign they should “keep driving through.” If one drives through town and keeps driving, one eventually leaves town do they not?

            You wrote, “If you were an actual resident of the town, you would not have a problem with the sign.” Do you not not understand that it was local RESIDENTS who submitted a complaint to the FFRF. The FFRF then sent a letter to the city of Hondo asking that they remove the signs because they are an unconstitutional government endorsement of religion. In a similar instance, the city of Hawkins in Texas last year had to get rid of a public “Jesus Welcomes You to Hawkins” sign after local residents complained to the FFRF.

          • 2A_Advocate

            You’re a liar. You said I said people should leave. I never wrote anything like that. You can’tr just say something and it becomes true. Go argue with your Mommy. I didn’t read anything past your first two line. LOL Sorry, Guzzman-the-terrible, but it’s not working out between us. LOL

          • Guzzman

            You’re the one who is lying because there is no way to drive through a town and “keep driving through” without eventually exiting that town.

            You also wrote, “If you were an actual resident of the town, you would not have a problem with the sign.” Well, “actual residents” did in fact complain, and that set the wheels of justice in motion. So you lied yet again.

          • 2A_Advocate

            No, I’m not lying. You are. I did not read past “You’re the one who is lying because …”

  • Robert Karma

    I checked to see what the FFRF said about this case. “‘Hondo, TX Sign FAQ… or FAC’ By Sam Grover, Staff Attorney, Freedom From Religion Foundation, With all the media attention surrounding FFRF’s recent letter to the City of Hondo I thought it might be useful to respond to some Frequently Asked Questions about the letter and FFRF’s reasons for sending it.
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/freethoughtnow/hondo-tx-sign-faq-or-fac/

  • Guzzman

    Government entities at all levels are held to the same mandate under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to maintain neutrality on matters of religion. A sign posted by local government on government property professing that the city is “God’s Country” is an unconstitutional government endorsement of religion. This sign will suffer the same fate as the Hawkins, Texas sign which stated that “Jesus Welcomes You to Hawkins.”

  • Boris

    Christianity is a protection racket. It preys on the widely held fears and superstitions of people and offers them a solution it clearly does not have. The only reason this con game continues is because the dead cannot come back and demand a refund. Don’t feed the monster and it will disappear. Once the money runs out the religion will be gone because it’s only in it for money, authority and power.

  • Bill N

    I always thought the sign was hilarious but if it’s paid for by the Hondo city govt it would fall afoul of the Constitution – even of the late Judge Scalia’s Constitution. Certainly there has been more than one case decided against Govt endorsement of a particular religion and they’re ususaly solved by have a private group take it over the cross or the sign or what ever.

    • George T

      Bill N: Government property is supposed to be auctioned. I like those times when a religious icon on government property is being auctioned and a non-religious group wins the auction (^_^)

  • parquee_hundido

    I think this definitely fits the definition of “majoring in minors.”

  • American American

    “God” per se, is not a religious term. Case closed.

    • George T

      American American: Do you practice any religion?

      • 2A_Advocate

        Georgy and funrucker practice the religion of self-service. LOL

    • Case re-opened. It has no other meaning outside of a religious context. So, you’re wrong. Case closed.

  • Dave

    the first line in this article is completely incorrect. The Jesus Welcomes You to Hawkins sign still stands and will continue to do so, as it IS on private property.

    • Guzzman

      What is your source for saying the “Jesus Welcomes You to Hawkins” sign still stands? Last I heard, the Hawkins City Council, after conducting a land survey to verify that the sign was indeed on government property, voted to remove the Jesus sign and place it in storage.

      • Dave

        my friend owns the property that it is on. The land survey was incorrect. There are still court battles going on about it, the details about it I cannot share, the sign will continue to stand. I am one of many that stood guard over the sign until legal ownership and proof was given that it is not on city property. The FFRF’s statement is incorrect. I live in the area.

        • Guzzman

          Thank you so much for the information about the “Jesus” sign in Hawkins, Texas. The situation seems rather complicated. Hawkins mayor Will Rogers first asked the city council for permission to erect the sign before he became mayor. Then as mayor, he asked a high school shop class in 2011 to build the sign and had a contractor install it. The presumption all along was that the property was owned by the city, otherwise, why would the mayor need city council approval to put the sign up?

          A Breitbart article from September of last year stated that a private contractor determined that the sign was indeed on city property: “According to the local media outlet, City Council member Sherry Davis voted to remove the sign because a recent survey showed that it stood on public property in the city.”

          This is so confusing.

          • Dave

            HAHAHA, yes it is. Let’s now add that Will Rogers is no longer the mayor. He lost the election to Howard Coquat. We are just letting the court system figure this one out.

  • Wilson James

    It is funny watching all the heads explode. the atheists have now trolled the stiffnecks, who troll the atheists all the time with the ten commandment in the courthouse ploy. Religious and non -religious need to mind their own damned business.

  • Jed

    THE FREEDOM FROM RELIGION FOUNDATION DEMANDS THEIR REMOVAL, BUT DO THE SIGNS REALLY MAKE NON-BELIEVERS FEEL UNWELCOME?

    yes.

  • 2A_Advocate

    Kevin R. Cross

  • 2A_Advocate

    This says everything that needs to be said.

  • Kmom

    This Wisconsin-based group just really needs to stay the hell out of Texas and mind their own business.

  • Wyatt Haley

    While I agree of the separation of church and state, especially economically, if you’re making a big deal out of this sign then you’re just a hopeless, angry, no sense of humor asshole. You’re not rational at all. I’m not saying Christians are either but do you wanna get down to that level?