ATHENS, Texas — It's become known as "the fight for Christmas."
Organizers estimated that 5,000 people gathered in downtown Athens Saturday to support a Nativity scene outside an East Texas courthouse.
Earlier this month, an atheist group asked Henderson County officials to remove the display. But the demonstrators on Saturday made it clear they want the Christian icons to stay, some going as far to call it a "holy war."
"What God's done for me, this is certainly what I can do for Him," said protester Barbara Neff.
Others said for many here this issue is less about decorations than what they feel is a continued attack on their Christian faith.
"It is time of us to stand together and protect the very principles that made this nation very great from its birth," said church pastor Derek Rogers.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has promised to help defend the county's decision to display the Nativity scene.
"I never thought God would send a message from Athens, but that's what he's doing: He's sending a message," said protester Donna Stutts.
No one from the atheist group attended the rally. Its supporters say the organization's request is a simple one, based on the First Amendment doctrine separating church and state.