NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas -- Two big banners were taken down Monday by the same utility that allowed them to be displayed over busy streets in the first place. The signs have a seasonal message and the move has angered many and raised even more questions.
The Knights of Columbus Council 4183 paid $240 to New Braunfels Utilities to hang two banners for two weeks over Seguin St. and Landa St. The banners reading "Keep Christ in Christmas" were ordered after their application was approved, Paul Deltz said.
The banners were installed Monday but four days later, Deltz says he was notified they had to come down.
"Certainly, I was disappointed and did not understand why they were doing it," Deltz said.
"No, it should not have been approved in the first place, and we apologize that fell through in the application process," NBU spokesperson Gretchen Reuwer said.
For more than 20 years, NBU has put up banners for a small fee to advertise non-profit fundraiser events, she said. Reuwer said an employee at the utility made a mistake approving the banners.
"This particular banner was a message and as a government entity, which I'm not sure a lot of people are aware of, but NBU is a government entity and we are bound by the Constitution to follow the letter of the law," she explained.
Non-profits, including religious organizations could promote a specific event, but NBU could not lawfully display a religious message, the utility said in a statement.
Removing the signs Monday set off a firestorm of criticism.
"I feel it's been misinterpreted," Deltz said. "They've drawn it to be a political issue, which it wasn't. That was not our intent."
Grand Knight Tommy Daum said the organization wanted to put up the banners to remind people of the "reason for the season."
The signs now are on private property near where they were hanging over the busy streets.
NBU is reimbursing the Knights of Columbus the fee to put up the banners and has offered to pay for the cost of getting the banners printed, because they were ordered after the application was approved.