State of Wisconsin to Open Faith-based Office"
The national Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, which has taken the national lead in challenging Pres. Bush's "faith-based initiative," blasted Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle's surprise announcement today that he is joining Bush by outfitting a state faith-based office.
"We are disappointed to see Gov. Doyle, who generally had an excellent track record on the separation of church and state as Attorney General, capitulate to Pres. Bush's pressure on every governor to create a state faith-based office," commented Annie Laurie Gaylor, Foundation co-president.
"We need to see some backbone demonstrated by public officials against this very unwise, very impure mixture of church and state."
The fact that this executive order was sprung on the public with no chance to comment is highly objectionable, Gaylor added. "This savors of election-year political pandering."
Gaylor cited the passionate defense of separation of church and state by presidential candidate and Roman Catholic John F. Kennedy in 1960:
"I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute--where no Catholic prelate would tell the President (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote--where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference. . . "
"Forty years after this speech, the opposite is true: the Pope and Catholic Conference are openly dictating U.S. public policy, for example upbraiding Doyle on his stem-cell research stance. We have taxpayer vouchers in Milwaukee overwhelmingly benefiting Roman Catholic schools, and now we have a state 'faith-based' office!" Gaylor said.
The Foundation is planning to go to court over a state faith-based office soon, Gaylor advised, indicating the watchdog group is eyeing a lawsuit in a state with a proven track record of funding proselytizing groups. "But we will be scrutinizing Doyle's office carefully and are prepared to challenge it."
The Freedom From Religion Foundation has won five significant federal court rulings against the faith-based initiative, including its 2002 Faith Works case in Milwaukee. Currently, the Foundation has four faith-based challenges, including major lawsuits against the Veterans Administration and the Department of Federal Prisons, a case which also names the Attorney General. On appeal in the 7th Circuit is its important case against the creation of the faith-based offices in the White House and at the Cabinet level.
Contact Gov. Jim Doyle:
P.O. Box 7863
Madison, WI 53707