The Madison, Wis.-based Freedom From Religion Foundation expressed "dismay" over Wis. Gov. Jim Doyle's executive order to lower flags this entire week to mark the death of Pope John Paul II, a non-citizen and leader of Roman Catholicism.
Calling private mourning by Catholics appropriate, the Foundation took exception to this gesture by the State of Wisconsin, which appears like "an endorsement of Roman Catholicism over other religious viewpoints."
"The Pope was the world's leading sexist," said Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Foundation. "Why should Wisconsin women be expected to revere his anti-woman, antediluvian teachings?"
She pointed out that he called gays "evil," in need of psychiatric treatment and condemned gay unions as a "grave depravity."
"The greatest documented sexual abuse of children in world history occurred under his watch," Gaylor reminded Doyle. Thanks to Wisconsin Supreme Court decisions in favor of the Catholic Church, such abuse victims have fewer legal rights in Wisconsin than in any other state, she charged.
Gov. Doyle issued a statement on the pope's death saying that "his legacy will continue well into the future." Gaylor noted that is all too true--a legacy in which much of the world has been deprived of birth control, the right to divorce, or to die with dignity, and in which the church is fighting to halt stem cell research that will lead to medical breakthroughs for suffering patients.
Gaylor criticized the Pope's political interference with the United States when he ordered that U.S. Catholic politicians "vote in lockstep with Church doctrine."
Gaylor said the Foundation office has already received complaints from members of the public noticing flags at half-mast at polling sites on this Wisconsin election day.
She suggested: "Let's reserve the honor of half-masts for true American heroes."
The Freedom From Religion Foundation issued a full statement on the Pope's record, "The Pope Has No Vestments."
Fans of the First Amendment may wish to contact the Governor's office to complain. Please send a firm but polite message (include full name and address on email) to:
Gov. Jim Doyle
Office of the Governor
115 East State Capitol
Madison WI 53702
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