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Texas town takes down church's 'Jesus Welcomes You to Hawkins' sign. Here's the complicated reason why

City officials said the sign was on public land and was disrupting any possible future development for the space.
City officials said the sign was on public land and was disrupting any possible future development for the space.
Screenshot

SALT LAKE CITY — A small Texas town took down an iconic church sign that reads “Jesus Welcomes You to Hawkins” after a long court battle.

What happened: City officials said the sign was on public land and was disrupting any possible future development for the space, according to the Longview News-Journal.

The Jesus Christ Open Altar Church put up the sign back in 2015. The sign sat along a stretch of U.S. 80 that leads into Hawkins, which has a population of 1,300.

Mark McDonald, a church trustee, said that he was notified by the local police department of the removal.

  • “The city employees destroyed our church property, pulled up our crosses and destroyed everything,” McDonald told the Longview News-Journal last week.
  • “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.”

Flashback: Hawkins and the church have had many battles over the years about the property that the sign was on, according to Fox News. The church says it bought the property from a pair of funeral homes, but city officials say that the city, not the funeral homes, had the legal rights to the property.

Read more: 'Jesus Welcomes You to Hawkins' sign removed overnight; church vows fight

Next steps: City officials say that they will build a municipal street where the sign stood, the Longview News-Journal reported. The church, however, plans to fight back against the city and have the sign back up soon.