Turning the other cheek seems to be working in little Athens, Texas.
It seems a big-city atheist heard that they had a nativity scene on the courthouse lawn last winter, according to MSNBC News. So, he drove five hours to Athens to threaten county officials that if they did it again, he would sue. The result was outrage.
A protester at the "Rally for the Nativity"
Nationwide, America has gotten used to such outsiders forcing anything Christian out of public view – so much that it is almost assumed by some that it’s just a matter of time until every symbol of faith is obliterated from the American landscape.
Nevertheless, when such an intruder shows up and proclaims the star has to come down off of the water tower or that the crosses in the cemetery offend him or that your children have to quit reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, the sense of helplessness is overpowering. In the courts, the demand of one seems to supersede the wishes of the vast majority – never mind that there is nothing in the U.S. Constitution guaranteeing a right not to be offended by somebody else’s faith.
So, it was that taxi driver Patrick Greene of San Antonio, Texas, drove 297 miles to the Dallas suburb of Athens and announced that he was offended by the town’s nativity scene – and would launch a costly lawsuit if they ever put it on display again. The locals were livid that he would stick his nose into their town’s traditions and faith.
Television coverage of the protest
Then, the story takes an ironic turn. He called another news conference and told reporters that he had learned he is going blind. He
was going to have quit his job — and he did not have health insurance.
“The 63-year-old learned he had a detached retina,” writes reporter Rich Flowers of the Athens Daily Review newspaper. “Greene was forced to give up driving his Yellow Cab. Eye surgery would cost $20,000 he said, and he didn’t even have the money to pay bills or buy groceries.”
Enter Jessica Crye, a member of Sand Springs Baptist Church in Athens. She “ felt compelled to help. Why not turn this into something else?” she told the Tyler Morning Telegraph newspaper. “This is a great opportunity to turn the other cheek and show God’s love.”
Erick Graham, her pastor, said they didn’t have time to think or pray about the decision.
“We don’t discriminate on who we help, whether they are Christians or non-Christians, church members or not,” Graham told the Morning Telegraph. “We just help those with a need.”
Graham contacted Greene to find out more.
“I said first of all, I don’t want $20,000,” recalls Greene. “That would be ridiculous, because there’s a chance the surgery would fail. On top of that, there’s a chance it could become detached again.”
Instead, Greene told Graham he had a more immediate need. “I said, if you really want to contribute something to help, we need groceries” – at least until he is able to start collecting Social Security.
Greene hung up and told his wife about the phone call.
“They’re going to help us?” Karen asked.
Greene and his cat
Greene scoffed aloud. He’d heard empty promises before from Christians. But then he got a check for $400 in the mail. “I said I can’t
believe it,” Greene said. “I thought I was in the Twilight Zone.”
The money went to help pay the rent, and provide necessities from the grocery store.
The contributions didn’t stop at $400 either, Cry said. More money is coming in.