- Associated Press - Friday, June 19, 2015

HAWKINS, Texas (AP) - Leaders of an East Texas town must decide whether to stick with a sign that says, “Jesus Welcomes You To Hawkins,” or face a possible legal challenge.

The sign was made by local students in their shop class and has been on display for several years in the Hawkins community of around 1,300 people, the Tyler Morning Telegraph (https://bit.ly/1GWBlTu ) reported. A concerned resident recently contacted the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, which said the sign is unconstitutional and must come down.

Foundation attorney Sam Grover asked the city in a letter to immediately remove the sign and “refrain from displaying any messages that endorse religion or non-religion in the future.”

“It is inappropriate and unconstitutional for the city of Hawkins to display the sign described above (in the letter), because it conveys both a government preference for religion over non-religion and prefers Christianity over other religions,” he wrote.

Grover said if the city doesn’t move the sign to private property, the foundation or a resident could sue.

Mayor Will Rogers said the sign doesn’t belong to Hawkins, though it’s believed to be on city property. The city is surveying the land the sign sits on to make sure it is. After that, city officials will consult with the city attorney and the Texas Municipal League, which provides legislative, legal and educational services to cities.

Rogers said the City Council meeting on Monday to discuss the issue was packed with residents and that there was overwhelming support for the sign.

Grover said the organization intends to wait for the City Council’s decision on the matter, provided that it comes in a timely manner.

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Information from: Tyler Morning Telegraph, https://www.tylerpaper.com

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