The Republican-controlled Wisconsin Assembly has passed a new resolution instating the presence of a “National Bible Week” and confirming that the evergreen planted outside the State capitol is, in fact, a “Christmas” tree.
The resolution vote of 64-30 was actioned in direct opposition to Gov. Tony Evers’ declaration that the towering tree would be classed as a “Holiday Tree” in order to remove any potential affiliation to the Christian holiday season.
“It seems like the only religion we’re willing to take shots at is Christianity,” Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke said of the controversy, according to the Washington Post. The Assembly also voted 86-9 without debate to ensure that the days surrounding the Thanksgiving holiday were marked by “National Bible Week.”
“Bible reading has been a great encouragement and comfort for many people throughout our state’s history and has contributed to the molding of the spiritual, moral and social fiber of our citizenry,” the resolution reads.
As for the label assigned to the festive tree, Republicans insist that their Democratic opponents are simply trying to remove “Christ” from Christmas by secularizing the holiday season as much as they can.
“This resolution is about inclusion of the Christian holiday,” added Rep. Scott Krug.
As many have come to expect, complaints from the Freedom From Religion Foundation were issued almost immediately.
Such a blatant legislative endorsement of the Christian faith was “highly inappropriate,” they said. “Dedicating a week to the bible directly endorses Christianity over other religions, thereby telling non-Christian citizens we are second-class citizens for being the ‘wrong’ religion.”
“Imagine the uproar were the Legislature to promote ‘National Quran Week in Wisconsin,'” the group added.
But the resolution’s author, Rep. Paul Tittl, said the move was “not just pumping out Christianity,” before noting that the Bible is significant to a number of other religions. Tittle has previously been criticized for holding a Bible study at the statehouse.
He told the Post that he was a “born-again Christian,” and that the resolution was conducive to celebrating his faith and the beliefs of others.
“I am who I am,” he said. “What am I going to do, change because I’m a lawmaker?”