The Freedom From Religion Foundation insists that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker stay ashore and not be part of an upcoming Christian cruise to Alaska.
Concerned Wisconsinites have contacted the Freedom From Religion Foundation (headquartered in the state) to convey their unease that Lifeshape, a Christian organization, has offered Walker and his wife a free religious Alaskan cruise.
“The governor and first lady Tonette Walker are planning to host an ‘inspirational’ cruise to Alaska on Aug. 12-19 along with a small group of evangelical Christian leaders and musicians,” reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Walker recently announced his participation, encouraging others to pay to join him for the cruise, which will include “nightly inspirational messages” such as “faith in the public arena” and “faith-driven entrepreneurship.”
FFRF is troubled that the cruise is ramming through the First Amendment, and Co-Presidents Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor have written a letter to the governor expressing their concerns. Walker is leveraging his public office in order to promote his personal religion.
In his promotional message, Walker repeats a tired assumption that all Americans “hold dear” religious faith, and Christianity in particular. In fact, nearly 30 percent of Americans are non-Christian. This includes 23 percent of American adults — and 35 percent of Millennials — who are nonreligious. The language that Walker employs in his promo, such as “nightly inspirational messages,” “faith in the public arena” and “faith-driven entrepreneurship,” sidelines and deprecates the huge portion of Wisconsinites who do not share his Christian zeal.
Walker was offered this gift only because he is the governor of Wisconsin; the gubernatorial office is, however, secular in nature. Walker took an oath, in fact, to uphold the secular and godless U.S. Constitution, as well as the Wisconsin Constitution, which prohibits state officials from giving “any preference” to “any religious establishments or modes of worship.”
FFRF also wonders whether accepting this gift and crafting an advertisement for a for-profit religious cruise, signed as “Governor, State of Wisconsin,” violate the State of Wisconsin Code of Ethics, which prohibits conflicts of interest and sharply limits gifts that state officers may receive, including “any lodging, transportation, money or other thing . . .” As the state’s highest officer, Walker should strive to uphold not only the letter, but also the spirit of the state’s ethical guidelines. FFRF is gravely disappointed that Walker and his wife are obtaining a free cruise. If he and his family wish to go on a scenic religious cruise, at the very least they should pay their own way.
FFRF strongly urges Walker to change his mind and reject Lifeshape’s offer for him to join in on an overtly Christian expedition.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization based in Wisconsin itself with more than 27,000 members across the country, including more than 1,400 members in Wisconsin. Its purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church, and to represent the views of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics and nonbelievers).