Why Rep. Allen’s ‘Merry Christmas’ video isn’t kosher

By Annie Laurie Gaylor
Co-President
Freedom From Religion Foundation

Imagine a Muslim state legislator sending out over his official state email a Muslim message to constituents, that not only presumes his viewers share his beliefs, but which invites non-Muslim viewers to convert to his religion.

Imagine too that this video has been recorded using a backdrop of the state capitol, using state equipment and studio time. His message says, in part:

"Merry Ramadan,

"To me and my fellow Muslims, celebrating the season of Ramadan, well, it is one of the most important celebrations of the year. For those who may watch this who are not Muslims, I invite you to consider the hope offered by Muhammad."

Then this legislative video cites Koranic passages that indicate you may be destroyed if you don't believe, but if you believe you may be saved.

Now, imagine the uproar.

Or imagine an atheist lawmaker sending a winter solstice message assuring constituents "Smile, there is no hell," and reading from the text of Richard Dawkins.

We don't have to imagine a Christian legislator making such a state-supported pitch to his religion — because this is precisely what Wisconsin State Representative Scott Allen, R-Waukesha, has done.

View his video.

We at the Freedom From Religion Foundation complained to Assembly Speaker Robin Vos about this egregious misuse of the machinery of the state — not only to promulgate a legislator's personal beliefs, but to divisively attempt to convert constituents of minority or no religious beliefs.

Vos claims it's making a "mountain over a molehill." But we know if the case involved a Muslim legislator, a Wiccan, or an atheist legislator going overboard, Christian legislators and their constituents would be crying foul.

It's so simple.

The government may not take sides on matters of religion. Our government is supposed to be neutral, and leave the practice of religion to private citizens. There is no country where religion flourishes more, and that is because of our First Amendment's Establishment Clause, which, as Jefferson noted, erects "a wall of separation between church and state."

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational charity, is the nation's largest association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics), and has been working since 1978 to keep religion and government separate.

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