UPDATE: As of Saturday afternoon, Greene had received over $3,500 in donations on his fundraising website and wrote that he and his wife would give any future donations to organizations that help homeless and abused animals.
A Texas atheist who earlier this year fought to ban religious symbols on government property in his town is reportedly "flabbergasted" that Christians have offered to help him pay his bills.
The Tyler Morning Telegraph is reporting that Christians in Henderson County have raised around $400 to help Patrick Greene, an atheist who is at risk of going blind in one eye due to a detached retina.
Greene, a former Air Force officer and taxi driver who was forced to retire due to his eye condition, wrote a letter to members of the Henderson County Commissioner's Court in February threatening a lawsuit if they did not move a Nativity scene from court property, the Malakoff News reported.
The Nativity scene had been a source of controversy since it was erected in front of the courthouse last December, an ongoing battle between a variety of groups on which the Malakoff News has reported extensively.
Greene eventually did file suit, but when doctors told him about his eye condition, he decided that he could no longer pursue the lawsuit and dropped the case. At that point, he had been forced to retire from his job driving a taxi and was facing mounting medical bills.
So when local Christians wrote him a check for $400 to help him pay his living expenses, Greene was more than surprised.
"They said they wanted to do what real Christians are supposed to do – love you – and they wanted to help," Greene told the Tyler Morning Telegraph.
He told reporters he plans to write about their gesture in a new book, tentatively titled "The Real Christians of Henderson County."
Greene has also set up a website where anyone can donate money to help cover living expenses. On the site, Greene says he and his wife are considering a move to Athens, Texas, where the rent is more affordable, and asks for donations to help cover moving costs.
"You will never know how hard it is to write all of this," Greene writes on the website. "In our 33 years of marriage, Karen and I have never been in this situation."