Freethought Today · Vol. 26 No. 1 January/February 2009

Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

FFRF Defends "Good Friday" Court Order

The Madison, Wis.-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, which won a solid federal court victory in 1996 overturning a state law declaring Good Friday a state holiday, has lodged complaints with the Wisconsin Technical College System, and 15 of the 16 public-supported technical colleges in Wisconsin over noncompliance with the Good Friday court order.

A student at the Mid-State Technical College in Wisconsin Rapids, complained to the Foundation that her technical college stayed open on the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday, but closes for Good Friday. The college’s academic calendar refers to the April 10 closing as “Good Friday.”

Dr. John Clark of Mid-State Technical College in Wisconsin Rapids told media he had not been aware of the court order.

An investigation by Foundation staff attorney Rebecca Kratz revealed that only Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay stays open on Good Friday. The Good Friday law mandated that citizens “shall worship” between particular hours on Good Friday and that public facilities should close in the afternoon. The Foundation, with state workers and taxpayer plaintiffs, sued and won a victory in February 1996. The state then gave state workers a roving half-day holiday.

Rebecca Kratz told the technical college officials that they must stay open on Good Friday.

Officials at the Madison Area Technical College initially told local media the listing of “April holiday” in the calendar was a mistake. It turns out the campus is “open” on April 10, but no classes are taught!

“Thirteen years is too long to wait for tax-supported technical colleges to get the message!” said Foundation co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor, one of the plaintiffs in the 1996 lawsuit.

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