Beliefnet News

After a long court battle, city officials took down a church’s iconic “Jesus Welcomes You to Hawkins” sign overnight.

The city spent four years in court but ultimately won, citing that the sign was on public land and was in the way of future development.

The church, however, is not done fighting just yet.

“The city employees destroyed our church property, pulled up our crosses and destroyed everything,” church trustee Mark McDonald told the Longview News-Journal Friday.

“We’re treating it like a hate crime of religious discrimination that was conspired by the city. We have enough documents to prove that,” McDonald added. “The city was warned (Thursday) by our attorneys not to touch it and not to bother it. There’s been closed meetings, closed records (and) a lot of things wrong.”

The sign was placed along U.S. route 80 which leads into the small town of Hawkins, which hosts a little over 1,300 residents. It was erected in 2015 in front of a Hawkins coffeehouse, on property owned by Jesus Christ Open Altar Church.

The church claims the area the sign was put on was theirs, having bought the property from two funeral homes. City officials, however, believe the funeral homes did not have legal right to sell that property and the rightful owner is the city.

The church’s legal counsel said it will challenge the decision and continue trying to get the “Jesus” sign back up.

To learn more, check out the video below.