The Freedom From Religion Foundation has produced two 30-second TV commercials to air in Madison, Eau Claire-La Crosse and a few other Wisconsin markets, raising the alarm on Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's unprecedented bid to expand vouchers to send children to religious schools at public expense.
"We have a sense of urgency to inform the public about the disastrous consequences, if Walker's voucher expansion is adopted," said FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. "His reckless scheme would defund and ultimately destroy our public schools."
Walker's budget bill would, if enacted, permit half of the students in Madison to move to private, mostly religious schools at taxpayer expense.
"We must end Wisconsin's failed voucher experiment, not expand it," Gaylor said, pointing to major abuses.
The first spot explains:
Our public schools are under attack by Governor Walker. He wants to take money from our public schools and use it to support someone else's religion. Your tax dollars shouldn't fund religiously-segregated schools. Nearly half of our state's students would be eligible for vouchers under Walker's scheme. Vouchers are bad for children and bad for education. Help us stop Walker's brazen attack on our public schools.
A second, more dramatic ad, says:
There is no such source and cause of strife, quarrel, fights, malignant opposition, persecution, and war, and all evil in the state, as religion. Let it once enter our civil affairs, our government would soon be destroyed. Let it once enter our common schools, they would be destroyed. [quoting a Wisconsin Supreme Court decision]
Stop Governor Walker's disastrous proposal to expand vouchers for religiously-segregated schools.
The TV commercials begin airing next Monday, April 6 and will run on the 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. news broadcasts for two weeks on WISC-TV 3000, the Madison-area CBS affiliate. They'll also air in La Crosse-Eau Claire and some other Wisconsin markets. FFRF is also airing the ads locally during CBS Sunday Morning and a few other news programs over the next two weeks.
The ad takes viewers to a splash page, ffrf.org/stopvouchers, which not only encourages them to contact legislators, but provides background and anti-voucher FAQs. FFRF notes that Walker's recently expanded statewide voucher system has resulted in a system where 100% of the state-funded schools are Christian, and 73% of students attend Roman Catholic schools.
FFRF, a national state/church watchdog based in Madison, Wis., has 22,000 nonreligious members nationwide, including more than 1,300 in Wisconsin.
FFRF will post the billboard message below in a Madison downtown location in mid-April.