The Only Waunakee in the World by Patricia King (October 1994)

A Recognition Plaque was awarded at the seventeenth annual convention of the Freedom From Religion Foundation on October 1, 1994, to Drs. Joseph and Patricia King. The Kings were plaintiffs in a long fight funded by the Foundation to end village ownership and display of a nativity scene every year in Waunakee, Wisconsin. In June, the Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld the display.

The Kings decided the time was not right to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, although it is hoped that in a few years, the Court may be willing to overturn the original Pawtucket case leading to serious entanglements around the country with public-displayed nativity scenes.

In awarding the plaque, Annie Laurie Gaylor recounted how the Foundation and the Kings became acquainted, how the entire village became arrayed against them to the point that they felt they had to move away, and thanked them for being willing to change their lives in support of a constitutional principle.

It’s no understatement to say that this case has changed our lives. Indeed it has, and it has changed it for the better. As opposed to being complacent about state/church separation, we are now radicalized and have decided to go forward and do what we can. Someone was saying earlier in one of the speeches that it is traditional to give a joke in the beginning of a speech, so I thought I’d read from the decision at the State Supreme court level where we at least got two votes! That’s the first we got all the way through the court system. Here’s what Justice Day from the Wisconsin Supreme Court said in our case:

“What we have in the Waunakee case is a recognition that Christmas has its historical origin in the birth of Jesus.”

Is the court really trying to tell us that there was a boy born of a virgin? That’s a historical fact? This is what the whole Christmas tradition is based on. Our backgrounds are in science and I can tell you as a biologist that parthenogenesis is possible. But I can tell you one thing, if there was true emergent birth, that child would be a girl. Really there is no way around it. What would the Pope say, indeed! Ave Marias. Hail Marys. Perhaps she was a cross dresser! Who knows?

All joking aside, it’s very sad to go through the court system and see how little people within the law understand the Constitution which is the basis of our law in this country of ours. Particularly they don’t understand the reason we have the Bill of Rights. And, I can tell you honestly, now that I’m in my third year of law school, that is a re˛ection of everyone in the law. I would say most students do not understand this, most of the professors do not understand this, and as we have seen in the courts, the judges do not understand this. It is a very sad situation because they are entrusted with upholding the Constitution and our Bill of Rights.

Nowhere better rejecting the ignorance on the part of our judiciary was this decision, where Justice Day said, “This vindication [that is, the decision in Waunakee to keep the creche in the park] is an example of how courts must enforce and protect even the rights of the majority.”

I can assure you that the rights of the majority are not in jeopardy!

Just know next Christmas time where you can go to escape Christmas. There is nowhere you can go to escape Christmas. Christians can celebrate Christmas as much as they want, anywhere they want. Their right to display a creche was not in any way threatened by this lawsuit.

Photo by Patricia Streasick

Freedom From Religion Foundation