MADISON, Wis. (AP) — An atheist group questioned Thursday whether a Republican legislator improperly used state resources to produce a Christmas greeting video in which he encourages people to become Christians and quotes Bible verses.
Rep. Scott Allen is a freshman representative from Waukesha, one of Wisconsin’s most conservative cities. He posted a video on the Wisconsin Assembly GOP’s YouTube channel on Dec. 18 that shows him speaking in front of what appears to be a photograph of the giant Christmas tree in the state Capitol rotunda. In the video, he invites anyone who isn’t Christian to “consider the hope offered by the Prince of Peace.”
He then goes on to ask people who celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ to consider two Bible verses from Hebrews about people spurring one another on toward love and good deeds and how those who believe will be saved. He quotes portions of the verses directly.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter Thursday to Assembly Speaker Robin Vos complaining that Allen is overtly proselytizing. The letter includes a request for all documents related to the video to determine whether state resources were used in its production or distribution and notes the U.S. Constitution prohibits government sponsorship of religious messages.
“While Allen is free to promote his personal religious beliefs on his own time, it is inappropriate to do so when he is afforded a special platform due to his elected position,” the letter said. “Using state resources to promote one particular religion, and suggesting that people should convert or even consider converting to that religion, is unconstitutional.”
Allen didn’t immediately return a voicemail The Associated Press left at his Capitol office on Thursday afternoon seeking comment. He also didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment and inquiring about whether he used state resources for the video.
Vos spokeswoman Kit Beyer also didn’t immediately respond to an email message. Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke, R-Kaukauna, tweeted that Allen’s message is one of faith and love and the world needs more such messages.
“It was, after all, a Xmas message. #JesusIsTheReason,” Steineke wrote.