(Photo: Patrick Greene)
Patrick Greene, a self-proclaimed atheist turned Christian turned atheist again, has recently offered a large light-up star to accompany the Henderson County courthouse's public nativity display in Athens, Texas.
Greene, who purchased the star in March 2012, says that the purpose of the creation, which is from both him and his wife, is to dispel the "animosity that grew towards atheists" in the Athens area.
The star, which is four-feet long, is accompanied by a handwritten sign which reads: "This star is a gift from two Texas atheists, Merry Christmas."
"I told my wife that because of the animosity that grew toward atheists in general, that we should tell people -- and make it a point -- that atheists are the ones that gave them that star," Greene told the local KHOU-TV station in Houston.
"We can't risk any more animosity toward atheists by letting people think Christians are the ones that put the nativity scene there, and that Christians were the ones that put the star there," Greene added.
Greene went on to explain that he chose to give the star as a form of good gesture after the atheist group Freedom From Religion Foundation threatened to sue Henderson County, Texas in 2011 over its courthouse lawn nativity display because it had religious imagery.
The FFRF also requested, to no avail, that the county allow the atheist group to put up their own display, which read in part: "Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds."
Greene told KHOU-TV that he felt the 2011 attempted atheist display was offensive, and therefore his star was somewhat of a peace offering to the county.
Greene himself was also the driving force behind atheist activism in 2011, when he too threatened to sue Henderson County over its public nativity display on its courthouse lawn.
Shortly after he threatened to sue over the display, however, Greene suffered severe health issues regarding his sight, and withdrew his lawsuit.
The local Sand Springs Baptist Church heard of Greene's health issues, and donated thousands of dollars to him and his wife to help with his medical expenses.
As Greene told The Christian Post in April 2012, the kindness he witnessed from his fellow Christians caused him to rethink his atheistic outlook, and he momentarily became a believer in Christ.
One month later however, Greene had returned to atheism, telling the San Antonio Express-News that he had "gotten all caught up in the excitement" when he briefly became Christian.
As Henderson County officials told KHOU-TV, they will contemplate displaying Greene's star and sign on the public nativity display this holiday season, although typically they do not allow displays with words.
As Greene told KLTV 7, he believes his star and its accompanying sign symbolize "goodwill between people," namely the atheist and religious communities of Athens.
"If they say no, we are ready to go legally for religious discrimination," Greene added.