FFRF: N.C. Wilkes County error-filled ‘Christian Heritage’ proclamation must be rescinded

A national state/church watchdog has sent a second, very firm request to the Wilkes County Board in North Carolina to rescind its action proclaiming “Christian Heritage” all year round, calling the proclamation full of shameless “distortions, errors, misquotes and bowdlerizations.”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a national association of 40,000 with a chapter and members throughout North Carolina, first wrote the county board on Dec. 20 protesting the proclamation.

FFRF is renewing its request after researching the Dec. 19 proclamation in-depth. It has also included a seven-page memo that fact-checks each paragraph of the proclamation, providing rebuttal and corrections.

“The memo clearly shows why it is incumbent upon the board to rescind this error-filled and misleading proclamation,” writes FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. She clarified, however, that even were all the quotations, which claim to show the personal religious views of certain Founders, found to be true, the county would still lack authority to proclaim every year to be “Christian Heritage.”

“But the most egregious problem is the conclusion of your proclamation,” Gaylor adds, “instructing citizens to ‘proclaim and recognize our Christian Heritage and urge all citizens to proclaim Christianity’s important influence in the foundation and life of our County, State and Nation.’” [emphasis added]

FFRF emphasizes that 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.”

It’s hard to imagine a more egregious example of governmental overreach, FFRF notes.

The memo that parses the proclamation’s supposed quotes is fully cited and footnoted, unlike the proclamation itself. It carefully shows that some deistic references yield no credence to America’s so-called Christian heritage. In one instance, the proclamation cites a 10-word phrase from James Madison’s “Memorial and Remonstrance,” when in fact Madison’s “entire purpose was to argue that complete religious liberty requires that the government cannot support religion in any form.” FFRF quips that Madison, were he alive today, would be writing another “Remonstrance” — against your proclamation.”

The same illogical Wilkes County Board dynamic underpins sloppy allusions to a quote by Thomas Jefferson, who was not a Christian, coined the phrase “a wall of separation of church and state” and once took a razor to excise all supernatural teachings from the New Testament, comparing the sections he removed to “dunghills.”

Here is the cover letter to Wilkes County and here is the memo.

FFRF concludes its petition to the Wilkes County Board by telling it: “Honesty, integrity and the Constitution make it incumbent that the Wilkes County Christian Heritage proclamation be rescinded.”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with over 40,000 members and several chapters across the country, including more than 900 members and a local chapter in North Carolina. Our purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.

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Freedom From Religion Foundation

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