MADISON, Wisconsin, November 9, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Two weeks ahead of Thanksgiving the Christmas wars for 2011 are already in full swing after Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker restored the name of the state’s ‘Christmas’ tree after it spent 25 years as a ‘holiday’ tree.
The governor made the change without fanfare by simply referring to the evergreen as a Christmas tree in a Tuesday press release announcing that local youth would help decorate the tree in the state’s capitol rotunda.
But his spokesman reportedly confirmed that the change was deliberate. “It’s a Christmas tree. In all honesty, I don’t know what more to say about it,” spokesman Cullen Werwie told the Associated Press.
The 30-foot-tall Christmas tree had gone by that name from the time it was first erected in 1916 until 1985, when the government yielded to secular claims that the name effectively endorsed religion.
The Madison-based Freedom From Religion Foundation has slammed the governor’s decision, calling it an offensive “snub” to non-Christians.
“The reason that it was turned into a holiday tree was to avoid this connotation that the governor chooses one religion over another,” Annie Laurie Gaylor, the group’s president, told the Associated Press. “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.”
But Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association called the group’s accusations “absolutely ridiculous.”
“You can read the Constitution from the beginning to the end and you will find nothing in there that prohibits a governor from calling a Christmas tree a Christmas tree,” he told LifeSiteNews.
“They don’t have any problem with a menorah as a religious symbol in a holiday display. They just get wigged out when it’s a nativity scene or a Christmas tree.”
Fischer praised the governor for restoring the tree’s rightful name. “Nobody calls them holiday trees. Everybody calls them Christmas trees because that’s what they are,” he said.