FFRF turns thumbs down on Christian Heritage Week

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has sent letters of complaint on behalf of its 700 Florida members and a local resident objecting to proclamations declaring Christian Heritage Week by the Vero Beach City Council and the Indian River County Board of Commissioners.

The two boards declared Nov. 21-27 as Christian Heritage Week at the request of the Indian River Family Association, an affiliate of the American Family Association, a conservative Christian evangelical group which works to breach the state-church wall of separation and to deny civil rights to gays and reproductive rights to women. The county's proclamation also praises AFA's "contribution to the quality of life in Indian River County."

Both proclamations selectively quote Presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson and Virginia statesman George Mason.

The Washington quote is particularly troubling, noted FFRF Staff Attorney Rebecca Markert. "Not only is our first president misquoted, but the quote also omits key wording and is generally misleading and taken out of context."

The proclamations also perpetuate the patently false myth that America was founded as a Christian nation, Markert wrote in FFRF's letters. In addition, they exclude and offend a significant proportion of the population which is non-Christian or nonreligious.

Instead of issuing a proclamation celebrating a religious faith and group, FFRF urged the public boards to issue proclamations celebrating freedom of conscience and state-church separation. Draft proclamations for a Give Thanks For State/Church Separation Week were included with the letters.

Markert reminded board members that they "are charged with great responsibility and have been given significant trust by citizens, including those who may not share your religious viewpoints."

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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