On Monday, Walker decided that he wanted to shake things up a bit. Rather than following recent tradition and referring to the (Christmas) tree that is placed in the Wisconsin’s Capitol Rotunda as a “holiday tree,” he’s changing course. For the past 25 years, lawmakers have referred to the evergreen that is decorated with ornaments and a star with this benign, uncategorized reference. Now, Walker plans to, once again, call the tree what it is — a Christmas tree.Of course, the usual aggrieved parties chimed in:
From 1916 until 1985, the state did, indeed, refer to the tree as such. But in 1985, when lawmakers began getting nervous about government endorsement of religion, they began referring to it as a holiday tree. Walker, though, doesn’t want to continue doing so.
Rather than making a big deal out of the change, the governor simply put out a press release that referred to the holiday decoration as a Christmas tree.
The infamous Freedom From Religion Foundation, a group of atheists and “freethinkers,” doesn’t plan to let the change go unnoticed. Annie Laurie Gaylor, the group’s president, called the decision both rude and insensitive to non-Christians. Gaylor said:The Constitution says that government cannot establish a state religion, such as the Church of England that was part of the official British government at the time the Constitution was written. However, it does not restrict politicians from honoring and respecting religious holidays. Just the other day Obama wished the world's Muslim's a happy holiday and I don't remember hearing any complaints from FFRF.
“The reason that it was turned into a holiday tree was to avoid this connotation that the governor chooses one religion over another. It’s essentially a discourtesy by the governor to announce that. He intends that to be a slight and a snub to non-Christians, otherwise he would not do it.”
And besides all that, the Christmas tree is not a religious symbol, it's a secular pagan symbol. The FFRF people should have no complaints at all.