Foundation Dismayed at Wisconsin Governor’s Jingoism

Labels Dissenters, Unbelievers “Oddballs”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has written a letter of complaint to Wisconsin Gov. Scott McCallum over the insensitivity of his October 9 statements, belittling the separation of church and state, and the rights of dissenters and unbelievers in Wisconsin and its public schools.

“Most Wisconsinites,” McCallum said, “are looking for ways to enhance our armed forces and support our country; some people are looking for ways to diminish our belief in God and country. It is disheartening, but in a free country you have patriots and you have the freedom for a few oddballs who place politics above patriotism.”

McCallum made his remarks in the context of condemning an Oct. 8 vote of the Madison (WI) School Board, directing Madison schools to play the national anthem rather than recite the Pledge to comply with a new state law. The law requires that schools “offer” the Pledge of Allegiance or the national anthem every day. In response to complaints by teachers, students and parents, the school board directed that the music to the anthem be played, to avoid controversy about the Pledge of Allegiance, which has contained the phrase “under God” since 1954.

The vote will be reconsidered at the school board’s Oct. 15 meeting, following denunciations by the Wisconsin State Journal, the Governor, veterans’ groups and Christian radio.

In its letter, the Foundation took McCallum to task for setting “a tone of jingoism and divisiveness,” and for equating “belief in God” with “belief in country.”

“You are imposing a de facto religious test on state citizens, saying you canot be a patriot or first-class citizen unless you are a god-believer,” wrote Annie Laurie Gaylor, on behalf of the Foundation.

The Foundation pointed out the “current debate and acrimony” would have been avoided, had Gov. McCallum deleted the Pledge amendment from the State Budget, where it passed this fall. “A bill of this importance ought to be fully debated,” instead of being inserted into the state statutes by “stealth, without public notification, debate or testimony.”

See the text of the entire letter at


Freedom From Religion Foundation

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