The Wisconsin Assembly voted Nov. 12 to recognize Thanksgiving week as National Bible Week in Wisconsin.
Imagine the uproar were the Legislature to promote “National Quran Week in Wisconsin.” It is equally wrong for legislators to promote their own religion’s so-called sacred text.
It’s a fundamental American principle that the government may not take sides over religion.
Unfortunately, over the years, theocrats have opportunistically picked the period around Thanksgiving as a time to demand that government adopt religious resolutions.
The bible these legislators seek to place on a pedestal promotes conduct that modern society would be appalled at. It condemns to death blasphemers, apostates, gays — even “stubborn sons” and women who are not virgins on their wedding night. It says women are only worth two-thirds of men and reviles them as “unclean.” It sanctions slavery, rape in wartime, and the severe corporal punishment of children.
Dedicating a week to the bible directly endorses Christianity over other religions, thereby telling non-Christian citizens we are second-class citizens for being the “wrong” religion. Legislators need to catch up with the changing demographics. Pew recently announced that fully 26 percent of adult Americans are “atheists, agnostics or no particular religion.” The last census in Dane County, Wis., where Madison is located, puts the nonreligious at 54 percent — more than half the population.
The resolution’s sponsors are free as private citizens to celebrate a week promoting the bible. They are not free to misuse their civil authority to sanction the bible or any other religious text. The resolution’s sponsors should open up the Wisconsin Constitution, and remind themselves that Article 1, Section 18 forbids them from interfering with the “rights of conscience” or showing “any preference . . . by law to any religious establishments or modes of worship.”