The recent actions of the Wisconsin Assembly to establish “Bible Week” and to designate the state Capitol evergreen as a “Christmas tree” represent a one-two punch to the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. It is easy to see why these bills passed, even with some Democratic support. Most of Wisconsin, after all, identifies as Christian.
The politically expedient vote, though, is not the vote required by the Constitution, which in the Establishment Clause forbids the state from “promoting one religion over another.”
Granted, these may seem like minor steps toward establishing a full-blown theocracy, but they are minor steps leading in the wrong direction.
Do we really want our government to be a mirror image of Iran or Saudi Arabia? With measures such as these (and with a president who co-opts Christianity daily), we are inexorably heading down a path our Founding Fathers -- products of an Age of Enlightenment -- warned against.
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The Constitution was written as a defense of minority, rather than majority rights.
The 19th century French political philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville warned against a “tyranny of the majority.” Tocqueville’s warning seems all too relevant today.
Happy holidays to all.
George Savage, Madison