MADISON, Wisc. — A prominent professing atheist group has expressed its objection to a weekly Bible study offered by a Wisconsin lawmaker at the state capitol building.
According to reports, Rep. Paul Tittl, R-Manitowoc, hosts the Bible study every Wednesday in his office. Legislators and their staff members are welcome to attend.
But the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) says that Tittl must either move the Bible study out of the government building or discontinue the meeting altogether. It sent a letter to Tittl on Wednesday.
“Given that you have already admitted that the Bible studies are not state work—’not related to any official act as a state representative or to official government business’—it is incumbent on you to stop the Bible studies or move them off state property,” wrote FFRF co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “There are several churches within a few blocks of that Capitol that we are confident would be willing to host your religious event.”
“If, on the other hand, you now wish to alter your argument and claim that these Bible studies are in fact state work, that raises serious constitutional concerns,” she said.
Gaylor asserted that Tittl’s Bible study constitutes the government endorsement of religion and treats those who are not Christian as outsiders.
“As a state legislator, you serve a population that consists of not only Bible believers, but also atheists, agnostics, Muslims, and Hindus among others,” she stated. “When you use your state office to conduct a Bible study, you send an official message of endorsement of religion over non-religion and Christianity over all other religions to the exclusion of the nearly one in four U.S. adults who are nonreligious.”
Gaylor further contended that Tittl is wasting his time in seeking God.
“Please stop hosting Bible studies in your office and instead concentrate on state business,” she wrote. “Our
message to pious politicians is: Get off your knees and get to work. The answers will not come from above. Nothing fails like prayer.”
It is not yet known if Tittl plans to respond.
As previously reported, throughout America’s early history, a number of the Founding Fathers issued proclamations calling inhabitants to look to God, including in 1798, when President John Adams proclaimed a national day of humiliation, prayer and fasting.
“As the safety and prosperity of nations ultimately and essentially depend on the protection and blessing of Almighty God, and the national acknowledgment of this truth is not only an indispensable duty which the people owe to Him,” he wrote, “…this duty, at all times incumbent, is so especially in seasons of difficulty and of danger, when existing or threatening calamities—the just judgments of God against prevalent iniquity—are a loud call to repentance and reformation.”
President Abraham Lincoln also proclaimed a National Fast Day in 1863.
“[I]t is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord,” his proclamation read.
“[I]nsomuch we know that by His Divine law, nations like individuals are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war, which now desolates the land, may be but a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people,” Lincoln said.