Group Advocates Church and State Separation with Billboard

A state group has sponsored a temporary downtown billboard emphasizing the importance of separation of church and state.

The billboard at Third and Cass streets through February is part of the Wisconsin chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State’s two-month advertising push. The campaign, which also involved similar signage at Milwaukee bus stops, advocates the constitutional separation of religion and government.

“We wanted to start off the New Year by reminding Wisconsinites that the First Amendment is too important to be taken for granted,” said organization president Skip Evans.

The downtown billboard reads, “Constitutional separation of church and state. The best friend religion ever had. Protect it and it will protect you.”

“The basic message is everyone should be concerned about keeping the separation of church and state,” said organization board member Hank Zumach of Stoddard.

Zumach criticized the La Crosse Common Council’s clergy-led prayer at its monthly meetings.

“It’s incorporating sectarian religious beliefs into the agenda of our government,” he said. “Unfortunately people of sincere religious beliefs, when they have the political power, will try to impose religious beliefs onto everyone else.”

The organization, established in 1947 by a group of Baptists concerned about the separation of church and state, paid $860 to fund the billboard, Zumach said.

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