Atheist activists are lambasting a Wisconsin politician's video for its inclusion of "Merry Christmas" greetings and an invitation to nonbelievers to "consider the hope offered" by Jesus, calling it an "overtly proselytizing message."
The Freedom From Religion Foundation has filed an open records request to determine if government funds were used in the creation of the video, which features Republican state Rep. Scott Allen; it was uploaded to the Wisconsin Assembly Republicans YouTube page on Dec. 18.
"It is unclear at this point whether state resources were used to produce this video, but we have included an open records request to determine if this is the case," the atheist group wrote in a Dec. 24 letter to the Robin Vos, speaker of the Wisconsin House of Representatives. "It’s our understanding that these messages, including Allen’s proselytizing message, were distributed using state resources, specifically state email, which, if verified, is a misuse of governmental media."
Merry Christmas message from Wisconsin state Rep. Scott Allen (YouTube)
It is the contents of Allen's speech that have infuriated the Freedom From Religion Foundation, with co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor calling the nearly two-minute clip an "egregious misuse of the machinery of the state."
"Merry Christmas to me and my fellow Christians celebrating the birth of our savior, our Emmanuel, well, it is one of the most important celebrations of the year," Allen proclaimed in the video.
He continued, "For those who may watch this who are not Christians, I invite you to consider the hope offered by the prince of peace."
Allen went on to say that he hopes that everyone who viewed the clip would be "filled with joy and high spirits" and that their life would be full of festivities and rejoicing, concluding that the "world needs more love and more peace."
He also read from Hebrews 10, saying, "Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another."
The Freedom From Religion Foundation specifically pushed back against this scripture reading.
"This is actually Hebrews 10:38. The concluding passage, verse 39, proclaims that those who are not Christians — all those who reject Allen’s invitation to worship his particular deity — will be destroyed," the letter said "'But we are not like those who turn away from God to their own destruction. We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved.' Verse 31 has already warned that 'it is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God.'"
Watch the video in question below:
It was these elements that were seen as particularly problematic by Gaylor and the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
"We at the Freedom From Religion Foundation complained to Assembly Speaker Robin Vos about this egregious misuse of the machinery of the state — not only to promulgate a legislator's personal beliefs, but to divisively attempt to convert constituents of minority or no religious beliefs," Gaylor explained in a statement on the atheist group's website.
She continued, "Vos claims it's making a 'mountain over a molehill.' But we know if the case involved a Muslim legislator, a Wiccan, or an atheist legislator going overboard, Christian legislators and their constituents would be crying foul."
It is unclear what will unfold if, indeed, it is determined that state funds were used in the creation and distribution of the video.
(H/T: Christian Examiner)
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