As reported by the Texas Tribune and many other sources, on December 22, 2015, Gov. Greg Abbott ordered a secular celebration of the Bill of Rights to be removed from the Texas Capitol Grounds because it did not fit into his idea of a 'Christian Texas.'

Texas Constitution
Article 1. Bill of Rights
Sec. 3 EQUAL RIGHTS
"All free men, when they form a social compact, have EQUAL RIGHTS, and no man, or set of men, is entitled to exclusive separate public emoluments, or PRIVILEGES, but in consideration of public services." (emphasis added)

The language is a bit old-fashioned, but this clause of the Texas Constitution’s Bill of Rights guarantees that all Texans, without exception, be treated equally under law ‒ a right also guaranteed by the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. This simple and enlightened idea is the basis for our free society, and is the backbone of most the issues on which Secular Texas takes a stand.

When Texans of any religious creed demand that our shared government enforce their dogmas, their beliefs or their morals through the power of the law, they demand special privilege over all Texans. When the legislature enacts laws to enforce personal religious beliefs, it imposes on the religious and civil rights of all Texans, giving special privilege to one group, and violates this fundamental right guaranteed by both the Texas and United States Constitutions. And when our governor acts on a whim to censor citizens of Texas because he is offended that anybody dare not observe the rituals of his personal religion, he oversteps this basic protection guaranteed by our founding documents.

The Texas Bill of Rights continues, in Section 6, "No human authority ought, in any case whatever, to control or interfere with the rights of conscience in matters of religion, and no preference shall ever be given by law to any religious society or mode of worship. But it shall be the duty of the Legislature to pass such laws as may be necessary to protect equally every religious denomination in the peaceable enjoyment of its own mode of public worship."

 

And goes on in Section 7 to state, "No money shall be appropriated, or drawn from the Treasury for the benefit of any sect, or religious society, theological or religious seminary; NOR SHALL PROPERTY BELONGING TO THE STATE BE APPROPRIATED FOR ANY SUCH PURPOSES. (emphases added)" This is important, because the property of the Capitol grounds is being reserved for the celebration of the Christian religion and the Christian religion alone.

By allowing the celebration of a religious ritual of a select sect while denying the equal freedom of expression of those of different religious beliefs, Gov. Abbott has violated the very rights which he vowed to uphold in his oath of office.

The whims of our governor, or any elected official, cannot be allowed to dictate the role of government, especially when it comes to our shared government endorsing one set of religious beliefs over other beliefs.

I call on Gov. Greg Abbott to publicly admit his overreach, apologize for abusing his public office for his own personal goals, reinstate the celebration of the Bill of Rights that he so callously had removed from the Capitol grounds, and to take a stand as a leader and explain why protecting all groups and the expression of all groups is necessary for a vibrant society and a government responsive to the will of the people.

We ask that you add your voice to this call by calling or writing Gov. Abbott regarding this issue. Below is an example letter that you can use as a starting point.

Office of the Governor

Call: (512) 463-2000

Register your statement online

Mail a Letter:
Office of the Governor
P.O. Box 12428
Austin, Texas 78711-2428

 

Example Letter

Gov. Abbott,

I am a Texas citizen and registered voter.

The Texas Bill of Rights, in Sections 3, 6 and 7, respectively, make clear that the all citizens are to be treated equal under the government, that it is the job of our government to protect all religious viewpoints and that no property of the state shall be used to support one religion or religious view over another. These simple and enlightened ideas make up the backbone of our free society.

When Texans of any religious creed demand that our shared government enforce their dogmas, their beliefs or their morals through the power of the law, they demand special privilege over all Texans. And when our governor acts on a whim to censor citizens of Texas because he is offended that anybody dare not observe the rituals of his personal religion, he oversteps this basic protection guaranteed by our founding documents.

By allowing the celebration of a religious ritual of a select sect while denying the equal freedom of expression of those of different religious beliefs, you have violated the very rights which you vowed to uphold in your oath of office.

The whims of our governor, or any elected official, cannot be allowed to dictate the role of government, especially when it comes to our shared government endorsing one set of religious beliefs over other beliefs.

We call on your, Gov. Greg Abbott, to publicly admit your overreach, apologize for abusing your public office for your personal goals, reinstate the celebration of the Bill of Rights that you so callously had removed from the Capitol grounds, and to take a stand as a leader and explain why protecting all groups and the expression of all groups is necessary for a vibrant society and a government responsive to the will of the people.

The eyes of Texas are upon you, Governor Abbott. Will you stand for all Texans, or only those who hold the same religious views as you?

Advocating for the concerns of Secular Texans

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