A group of secularists who regularly dispute public displays of religion during the Christmas season sent a letter to a Republican Connecticut senator condemning his volunteer efforts as a bell-ringer for the Salvation Army. They claim he is promoting an “overtly Christian mission.”
“We urge you to consider supporting only secular charities in the future,” the Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) wrote to Connecticut State Sen. George Logan, a Republican. “This will ensure that representatives do not give the appearance of promoting an overtly Christian mission and will prevent citizens from feeling ostracized by their elected representatives because of their religious beliefs or sexual preference”:
Logan, who has been volunteering his time as a bell-ringer for the Salvation Army outside the Walmart store in Naugatuck, Connecticut, comes from a Republican district that went for President Donald Trump in 2016 in the Democrat-led state, reports the CT Post.
In its letter to Logan, FFRF – champions of abortion and LGBT rights – said, “The Salvation Army is not merely a charity or chain of thrift stores — it is a church denomination with an evangelistic mission”:
Great news! S/O to Justice Tanya Chutkan for this pro-women ruling! https://t.co/WLY6oOhcyS
— FFRF (@FFRF) December 19, 2017
“The Salvation Army has also publicly taken a discriminatory stance against homosexuality throughout its history,” the group added.
“I think it’s kind of sad to politicize charity work,” Logan responded. “The Salvation Army is trying to raise money to provide food, clothing and, in some cases, shelter for people.”
Interestingly, Connecticut GOP State Rep. David Labriola also serves as a Salvation Army bell-ringer, but told the Post he did not receive a similar letter from FFRF:
"More People Are Celebrating Christmas Without Religion" https://t.co/rvL3HpB7St
— FFRF (@FFRF) December 16, 2017
“We’ve been doing it for many years,” Labriola said. “We’re always very well received. It’s a great organization that we’re happy to support.”
The Salvation Army expressed its support for the volunteer efforts of Connecticut Republicans.
“We value our partnership with the Connecticut Senate Republicans and the Connecticut House Republicans,” said Major Roger Duperree, the Salvation Army’s divisional secretary for Southern New England. “Through this long-term relationship, funds raised enable The Salvation Army to serve thousands of Connecticut residents in need by providing toys, warm coats, nutritious meals and other essential services throughout the year”:
— FFRF (@FFRF) December 15, 2017
Wonderful news out of Ireland! https://t.co/HNaxWiTOiu
— FFRF (@FFRF) December 14, 2017
“It was such a good experience,” Logan said. “You get to meet folks. It puts a smile on people’s faces knowing they’re helping out folks less fortunate.”
FFRF often supports its anti-Christian message with President Thomas Jefferson’s reference to the “wall of separation between church and state.”
As Breitbart News reported, Jefferson used the phrase in a letter to Danbury, Connecticut, Baptists to calm their fears of perceived threats from the state on their faith practices.
According to the report:
After writing that letter, Jefferson went on attending church, at services held in the House chamber of the U.S. Congress. (On Sundays, the Capitol was a church building.) He also went on to approve legislation for the federal government to undertake the construction of churches in the frontier regions, and helping pay pastors to preach in these churches, to carry the Christian faith to the native peoples there.
Clearly, what Jefferson was describing was not a rigid barrier between faith and public policy, but denominational allegiance by the state. As the Constitution says, the federal government was not to “establish religion,” that is, to select a particular denomination as a national church.
“We are talking about adults that have problems with shelter and clothing,” Logan said during an interview on Fox News in which he discussed the letter from FFRF. “We’re getting a lot of support from the community to help those in need. And we think that’s what’s important.”
“They have used this issue of separation of church and state, but that does not mean that politicians or legislators need to turn their back on a religious organization that’s looking to help the people of our community,” he added.