MADISON—Each year for the past 18 years, Wisconsin Family Council (WFC), the educational arm of Wisconsin Family Action (WFA), has displayed a Merry Christmas sign in the State Capitol Rotunda. The sign not only wishes everyone a Merry Christmas, but reminds viewers of the real reason for the season—Jesus Christ—in direct contrast to the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s FFRF) sign recognizing the Winter Solstice and declaring that God does not exist.
Today, Wisconsin Family Council once again put up the sign in the capitol while Wisconsin Family Action placed an accompanying nativity display.
“Celebrating Christ’s birth is a Christian celebration, an American holiday and a Wisconsin tradition,” said Julaine Appling, president of WFA and WFC. “The Germans who played such an important role in settling our state brought this great tradition with them.”
The First Amendment to the US Constitution prohibits government from interfering with religion and guarantees citizens the right to exercise their religion, including celebrating Christmas, both in the privacy of their homes and in the public square.
Appling continued, “Thousands of visitors come to our beautiful state capitol during the holiday season to enjoy the gorgeous Christmas tree with all the handmade ornaments. We are honored to have our display in the rotunda as a silent but powerful witness to the truth of Christmas and to offer hope to all those who see it.”
The sign and the nativity will be on display on the First Floor Rotunda from today through December 31, 2013.
Merry Christmas to one and all!
I want to take this opportunity, first, to wish you and your family a very blessed Thanksgiving. I also want to, as the Scriptures say, put you in remembrance, of what this uniquely American holiday is all about. I urge you to share the story with your family; don’t assume they are learning it somewhere else or that they are somehow absorbing it by osmosis. It’s each generation’s responsibility to consciously, purposefully pass on this incredible true story of the history of our nation and God’s blessing. So please even if you think you know all the details of what I’m going to say next, listen closely with the intention of telling others the truth about America’s Thanksgiving celebration. I believe it is especially important today; we are losing so much of who we have been as a people and religious freedom is under threat like never before. We have much to gain from rehearsing this great story.
Almost four centuries ago, in 1621, the Pilgrims set aside 3 days of feasting and celebration to thank the Lord for His provision and protection throughout the previous year and for a bountiful harvest. At that celebration, from which we derive our present-day Thanksgiving, the Pilgrims gave thanks despite the hardship and deprivation they experienced during their first year in the New World.
Most of the Pilgrims buried one or more loved ones during the previous harsh New England winter. They lived in conditions that, by today’s standards, were barbaric to put it nicely and probably not even comparable to living conditions in Developing Countries. The New World was inhospitable, dangerous, unfamiliar and for many, fatal.
That first year in the New World was absolutely devastating, until Squanto befriended the Pilgrims and taught them how to survive, how to cultivate the land and grow their own food. Governor William Bradford said Squanto was “a special instrument sent of God for [our] good…and never left [us] till he died.”
The Pilgrim’s relationship with the Wampanoag Tribe is a legacy of integrity and friendship. It was a friendship that lasted throughout the lifetime of the original inhabitants of Plymouth and significantly contributed to the survival of the Pilgrims. In fact, about ninety Indians joined the Pilgrims for that first Thanksgiving.
I cannot look back on the story of the Pilgrims and their Thanksgiving feast without being struck by the apparent incongruity of the conditions those brave pioneers lived under and their attitude toward those conditions. My gas and electric bill goes up and I think I have it hard.
What could possibly move people to such dire straits that they sail to an unknown land and brave terrifying conditions to scratch a meager existence out of foreign soil? Religious persecution that makes them seek a place where there is true religious freedom. Most of the Pilgrims who came over on the Mayflower were religious refugees, hunted by the British government because of their opposition to the Church of England.
They were Puritans; part of the movement to purify the Church of England from rituals and practices which the Puritans believed were unbiblical. Because of their desire to purify the church, they were political and social outcasts—the original pioneers of religious freedom.
The Mayflower Compact, signed by Pilgrim leaders, beautifully illustrates the motivation behind the Plymouth Colony.
Having undertaken, for the Glory of God and the advancement of the Christian Faith and Honour of our King and Country, a Voyage to plant the First Colony in the Northern Parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and mutually in the presence of God and one another, Covenant and Combine ourselves together and a Civil Body Politic, for our better ordering and perseveration and furtherance of the end aforesaid.”
There it is in black and white: for the glory of God, the advancement of the Christian faith and the honor of king and country. Look at the priority here: God’s glory, Christianity and country. Isn’t it interesting how the natural means of achieving these three purposes is a civil body politic? Amazing!
I could not have said it better. As Christians we do not and cannot exist in a vacuum. The means through which we worship God, pursue a Christian life and live in peace with our fellow man is through the administration of a God-ordained institution—government.
This was their purpose, to practice their faith freely, raise their children in the ways of the Lord and live in peace. They believed in this goal so fiercely that after that first terrible, fatal winter, when a ship came and offered passage back to England, not a single, surviving Pilgrim abandoned the New World for the old one. Not a single one!
What courage! What faith! What perseverance! Despite the setbacks, despite the hardship, despite the danger, despite the discomfort, they would not be deterred from their purpose—to establish a government where they could live, worship God and raise their families freely.
Do you and I have that courage today? Do we possess the faith and perseverance to carry on in our purpose despite the opposition, for the sake of our children? It’s a sobering question—one that I am faced with daily.
Look at the results in our lives today. Almost four centuries of freedom, struggle, prosperity, pioneering, hardship and courage, through the grace of God, have given us the liberties we enjoy today: the freedom to worship God freely, to speak our minds, to vote for our leaders, to provide for ourselves and our families.
When I look at those freedoms today, I can honestly say it was worth it. Every ounce of sweat and blood was worth the America we enjoy today. I am grateful for God’s providence, for his protection for this City on a Hill. And I am ready, with you, to defend and advance those freedoms in my lifetime, so that the next generation can enjoy the liberty our ancestors handed down to us.
 http://www.wallbuilders.com/LIBissuesArticles.asp?id=17984, accessed 11/25/08.
 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mayflower_Compact#Text_of_the_Mayflower_Compact, accessed 11/25/08.
Wisconsin-based home improvement center remains closed on Thanksgiving
In an open letter to John Menard, Jr, CEO of Menard, Inc., Wisconsin Family Council president Julaine Appling commends Mr. Menard and his corporation, in particular the Menards stores, for bucking the recent trend of keeping retail stores open on Thanksgiving and other major holidays. Following is a statement from Julaine regarding the letter.
“I’ve been dismayed by how many retailers are treating our major holidays like any other buy-and-sell day. I don’t shop a lot, but when I walk into major stores and see signs boasting of being open all day Thanksgiving, I am not impressed—and I suspect I’m not the only one who feels that way.
“As Wisconsin’s premier pro-family organization, we believe it’s important that we publicly acknowledge and thank Mr. Menard for his decision to put families ahead of profit that might be made this Thursday. It’s a truly commendable action given the direction we are headed in this country. Perhaps Mr. Menard’s decision will embolden others to follow his lead.
“Late last week I was in one of those stores that is boasting about being open all day Thanksgiving. A friend of mine who works in the store was on duty (she’s scheduled to work the holiday). When I expressed to her my disappointment about this decision, she said, ‘You know, the founder of this company would never have done this. I don’t understand why his heirs and current management think this is good. Is it just greed?’
I couldn’t answer that question, but I certainly understood what she was saying. Much of corporate America, historically, was founded by people with strong family values and a deep respect for the traditions of this great country. Today, it seems much of that is lost and everything is about increasing the corporate bottom line. I don’t think that’s a good trend for our state and nation.
“I am hopeful that many people will not shop on Thanksgiving. Instead, I trust families and friends will gather and spend the day together enjoying each other and truly giving thanks to God for His incredible blessings on this land. And I also hope that Menards in particular here in Wisconsin enjoys one of the best ‘Black Fridays’ in its history!”
The Open Letter to John Menard, Jr. is available online HERE.
It was a not-so-silent night at the special meeting held by the Wausau School Board and administration last night to address the recent decision to limit “religious” music performed at annual Christmas concerts. The Wausau East High School auditorium was packed with concerned parents, taxpayers, students, and alum who voiced their strong opposition to the new policy; only one supporter spoke last night. The meeting lasted nearly 4-1/2 hours.
Over and over those who were upset by the religious music policy called for the dismissal of Supt. Kathleen Williams, who apparently instituted the policy without board knowledge or approval, and an apology to Mr. Phil Buch, the beloved director of the elite choir, Master Singers.
WFA president Julaine Appling spoke at the meeting, “Schools are to be a reflection of the community…. It is incumbent upon administration, it is incumbent upon school boards to reflect in their decisions, and in the process by which arrive at their decisions, community values.” She continued, “As school board members and as administration, it is very important that you stay in touch with, and reflect in that decision-making process, what this community values.” “Some portion of this problem is the age-old issue of communication. I believe much of this situation could have been addressed had the process been openly communicated all along the way. What you’re seeing tonight in this auditorium are parents and citizens who say ‘we woke up one morning and found out that what we thought was happening, isn’t what’s happening.’” Addressing the school board directly, Appling stated, “You don’t get crowds like this if the issue isn’t important to the people.”
The Wausau School Board passed a resolution last night to leave holiday concerts up to the music teachers at individual schools, reversing the controversial policy that limited “religious” music. They also passed a resolution that returns the music selection for concerts policy to what it had been prior to the controversial change. An additional resolution was also passed to form a committee to study this issue and make recommendations to the Board for policy changes and refinements.
One school board member asked that consideration of a performance review of the superintendent be added to the board’s regular meeting which is this coming Monday.
The Master Singers will resume rehearsals on Monday.
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a defender of 1st Amendment rights and strong advocate for religious liberty, is representing the parents and students in the Wausau School District who are standing in opposition to the District’s limitations set on “religious” music at annual Christmas events.
A letter was sent by ADF legal counsel to the Wausau School Board and Administration, “Every federal court to examine [this] issue has determined that including Christmas carols and other religious music in the school choir programs fully complies with the First Amendment.” ADF furthers, “[We] urge you to immediately rescind the new practice instituted by administration officials.”
Read the full context of the letter HERE.
The Wausau School District (WSD) has decided to limit “religious” music performed at annual Christmas concerts. Three choices were given to the music education departments in the district:
1. For every five secular songs, one religious song may be performed.
2. Eliminate all holiday music from the concert.
3. Postpone concerts until after December.
The backlash from this decision has resulted in the school’s elite choir, the Master Singers, disbanding, and the remaining school concerts being cancelled. As can be expected, parents and students alike have stepped up in protest and the WSD has called a special school board meeting TONIGHT, October 10, at 6:30 p.m. at the Wausau East High School.
Parents in the WSD have also started a Facebook page, Wausau School District Cancels Christmas, with up-to-date information and a petition to sign in opposition to the decision made by the WSD administration.
WFA urges concerned parents and citizens who live in the Wausau School District to attend the meeting tonight. Julaine Appling, WFA President, will be at the meeting and may speak on this issue.
WFA president Julaine Appling interviewed concerned Wausau parent, Meg Ellefson, on WVCY’s Home Front program this week. Listen to the interview HERE.
Listen HERE to Julaine’s interview on WSAU.
Read more about this issue HERE.
Julaine Appling, president of Wisconsin Family Action, testified at the first Common Core State Standards Initiative hearing held before the Select Committee for Review on October 3, 2013 in Madison at the state Capitol.
I would be remiss if I did not remind you that educational standards do not ensure learning or student success.
Time and again we have seen that quality, committed teachers are the real difference-makers. They can take
ridiculous standards and poor textbooks and ancillary curricula materials and still turn out students who have
mastered grade-level concepts—and much, much more. That is not to say standards are not important; but it is
imperative we keep standards in proper perspective. They are, or certainly should be, minimums, not maximums—learning “floors,” not “ceilings.”
Too often in attempts to improve upon the standards already being employed in our public education system, we fail to sufficiently subject these standards, as well as implementation methods and systems and assessment tools, to the scrutiny they inherently deserve. In our rush to provide our children with the “next best thing,” we can at times miss our intended target and create for ourselves additional, albeit unintended, new problems.
And so it is with Wisconsin’s adoption of Common Core State Standards.
Read the ENTIRE testimony HERE.