BINVERSIE: Wisconsin’s Grinches

By   /   December 21, 2012  /   1 Comment

By Kevin Binversie | Wisconsin Reporter

If you want to have your Christmas spirit drained immediately, take a walk through the state capitol in Madison this week. Yes, you’ll see the state Christmas tree, the state Hanukah menorah and a cornucopia of other things set up by various organizations. There’s a wreath honoring the Wiccan faith, a nativity scene depicting the birth of Christ, an area reserved for those who celebrate Kwanzaa, and there’s probably even a pole for Festivus.

Give them enough time, and someday, someone will create a diorama for the Wookie Life Day from the Star Wars films.

Then there is “The Plaque.”

An annual “gift” from the Madison-based Freedom from Religion Foundation since 1995, the plaque isn’t there to celebrate anything. It is there to openly mock what everyone else is celebrating this time of year, regardless of what it is.

It reads:

At this season of THE WINTER SOLTICE may reason prevail. There are no gods, no devils, no heaven or hell. There is only the natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.

And the happiest wishes of “Bah Humbug” back at you.

Having met plenty of atheists and other “free thinkers” over the years – one a preacher’s son – I have found most wish to be left alone, ask for tolerance of their non-beliefs and try to respond with the same. In other words, they are pretty much like anyone else with a belief system. It’s just their belief that skepticism is the only appropriate take on the beliefs the rest of us go along with.

But at least they are willing to play along with things for the Christmas holiday season. Some put on a Santa hat, or take part in a gift exchange.

I have yet to meet a free-thinking atheist who has ever turned down an invitation to a Christmas party – especially if there is an open bar.

Have you ever seen the Freedom from Religion Foundation even try to make sensible compromises this time of year? Much of the Christmas season sees the militant atheists attacking various municipalities with litigation threats for nativity scenes that haven’t bothered anyone for decades.

Last year, they threw a public hissy fit when the Wisconsin capitol building’s holiday tree was officially called what everyone was calling it anyway, long before political correctness set in: a Christmas tree!

One shudders to think what might occur if this crew discovers a cross, Star of David, angel, or anything else remotely religious has become part of an impromptu memorial at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Over the last decade or so, we’ve reached a rather silly stage of the “separation of church and state” wars. Religious conservatives, who feel their backs are against the wall culturally, put up Ten Commandments plaques in courthouses and say they’re defending themselves against a “War on Christmas.” If there’s a war, it’s being fought with water balloons and name-calling by activist atheists who go after any religious symbols in the public square regardless of how long it has been there, who pays for it, and how much it extends into the public consciousness.

So as the Freedom from Religion Foundation staff gathers at the state capitol to celebrate the Winter Solstice to prove their point, all they really seem to have accomplished is showing the public at large just what a bunch of intolerant jerks they really are.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, everyone, whatever you celebrate.

Veteran political blogger Kevin Binversie is a Wisconsin native. He served in the George W. Bush administration from 2007-2009, worked at the Heritage Foundation and has worked on numerous state Republican campaigns, most recently as research director for Ron Johnson for Senate. Contact him at [email protected]


Kevin formerly served as staff reporter for