FFRF insists that home county supervisor apologize

Jeff Weigand headshot

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is demanding that a home county supervisor say sorry for his recent comments making bogus connections between homelessness and “sin.”

At the April 4 meeting of the Dane County Board, Supervisor Jeff Weigand used his position to push his personal religious beliefs in a manner that demeans others. In defending his decision to vote against granting more than $200,000 of funding to Porchlight (a social services nonprofit) to care for the homeless, Weigand claimed that “sin” was the cause of homelessness:

Sin is the root cause. … When God created this world, there was no sin, he created a  perfect world, man ruined that by sinning, and we’ve seen the depravity and the decline  of our world ever since then. So when we talk about the root cause, if you really want to  go back to why we have mental health issues, to why we have greed, to why we have  people being mean to other people, it’s sin. And until we address that issue, we’re going to continue to see this issue of homelessness and a whole slate of other issues in our society. 

Weigand later clarified that he was “referring broadly to the sinfulness of the entire human race, which fundamentalists believe stems from Adam and Eve being disobedient to God in the Garden of Eden,” which didn’t exactly help matters. He further elaborated that the county should restrict funding to those initiatives that “will hold people accountable to God’s standards.”

FFRF is asking Weigand to refrain from using his position as a Dane County supervisor to promote his personal religious beliefs and biases. His remarks degrade the unhoused (who are a protected class in Dane County) and appear to violate Dane County ordinances. And his assertion that the county should “hold people accountable to God’s standards” shows a complete misunderstanding of his duties as a secular county board supervisor when, in fact, he has taken an oath of office to uphold our nation’s godless and entirely secular Constitution.

“Our Constitution’s Establishment Clause — which protects Americans’ religious freedom by ensuring the continued separation of religion and government — dictates that the government cannot in any way favor religion,” FFRF Co-Presidents Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor write to Weigand. “When a county supervisor or other government official associates their office with an exclusively Christian message, and suggests that county funding should only go to those who are ‘accountable to God’s standards.’ they violate this essential constitutional principle.”

FFRF had previously contacted Weigand last year with concerns about his gratuitous attacks on nonreligious citizens: “There’s a lot of people that resent God, and they’re trying to stick their nose and just stick their finger in His face. And they’re doing things that they know are wrong. And it’s in direct opposition to Him, which is really unfortunate.” Weigand’s remarks then and now show that he appears to believe Dane County is a theocracy, which is especially ironic in the case of the county he supposedly represents due to the fact that nearly half of his county’s residents are not religious.

“Please cease and desist your derisive, abrasive and judgmental religious statements and messages,” FFRF’s letter concludes. “They are needlessly divisive and unbecoming an elected official.”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a Madison-based national nonprofit organization with more than 40,000 members across the country, including over 1,900 members in Wisconsin and hundreds in Dane County itself. 

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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