Republicans who lead the Wisconsin Assembly affirmed the state’s religious heritage this week, voting Tuesday to call the state Capitol’s Christmas tree a “Christmas tree” (instead of a “holiday tree” as the state’s Democratic governor dictated last week) and to formally recognize National Bible Week.
They said the moves were necessary to ensure Christians aren’t made into a marginalized group as Christmas approaches.
The 64-30 vote on naming the tree was in reply to Gov. Tony Evers’ declaration last week that the display would be called a “holiday tree.” Evers’ Republican predecessor, Scott Walker, the son of a minister, declared the evergreen was a Christmas tree during his first term in 2011.
The Assembly also voted 86-9 without debate to adopt a resolution recognizing Thanksgiving week as National Bible Week.
“Bible reading has been a great encouragement and comfort for many people throughout our state’s history and has contributed to the molding of the spiritual, moral and social fiber of our citizenry,” the resolution states.
The Freedom from Religion Foundation has called the resolution “highly inappropriate,” complaining that it makes some non-Christians feel threatened and uncomfortable.
The spat over Christian symbolism is the latest development in a thorny relationship between legislative Republicans and the Democratic governor. It began before Evers took office, when the Legislature passed — and Walker signed — measures in a lame-duck session to limit the Democrat’s powers.
After Evers called the tree a holiday tree on Friday, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald tweeted that the move was “PC garbage.”