FFRF hails withdrawal of Christian Heritage Proclamation by Wilkes Co., N.C.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is pleased that the Wilkes County Board in North Carolina has replaced its error-filled proclamation declaring “Christian Heritage” all year round with a less objectionable resolution proclaiming April 21–27, 2024, as “Religious Heritage Week.

The national state/church watchdog first formally objected to the county’s Christian heritage proclamation on Dec. 20, the day after the board had adopted the resolution, noting that it painted “a false narrative perpetuating the myth that we are a Christian nation.”

After the board voted not to rescind the proclamation, FFRF followed up on Jan. 16 with a second request showing that it was full of distortions, errors, misquotes and bowdlerizations,” and urging rescission “for the integrity of the Board.” FFRF included a seven-page memo fact-checking each paragraph, providing rebuttal and corrections. Even if the quotations had all been correct, the county still lacked authority to proclaim every year to be “Christian Heritage,” FFRF Co-Presiddent Annie Laurie Gaylor maintained.

The county and its board have no authority whatsoever to “urge all citizens to proclaim Christianity’s importance,” any more than the board could command all county citizens to attend a particular church, or to, for instance, proclaim “atheism’s importance.”

Wilkes County Attorney Anthony R. Triplett advised FFRF on April 18 that the Board of Commissioners adopted a “Religious Heritage Proclamation.” Triplett added, “This replaces the Christian Heritage Proclamation, effective as of the date of its adoption on April 16, 2024.”

Gaylor said a “Religious Heritage Week” proclamation should still be outside the scope of the county’s purposes, especially when today almost a third of the adult population has no religious affiliation.

“Certainly the county should now be willing to declare a ‘Secular Heritage Week’ as well,” Gaylor said. “However, given the fact that the original proclamation was replete with bogus quotes or conclusions, we’re glad to see the county replace it.”

FFRF notes that bad history has often been invoked to create bad laws, and it’s always imperative to correct the historic record.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is the nation’s largest association of freethinkers (atheists and agnostics) with 40,000 members nationwide, including more than 900 in North Carolina and a chapter in the Raleigh-Durham area. It works to buttress the constitutional separation between state and church.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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