ICC Note: Last month, a handful of church welcome signs in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin came under fire from the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF). Two of the signs serve as city welcome signs and read, “The Churches of Oconomowoc Welcome You,” which the FFRF asserts is unconstitutional. The FFRF has written a letter of complaint to the mayor and threatened a lawsuit if the signs are not removed from government property.
By Myra Sanchick
05/19/2017 United States (Fox 6 Now) – A couple of welcome signs in Oconomowoc are coming under scrutiny and creating quite a controversy. The Madison-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) is asking the city to take down the signs or move them away from city property.
Many who live in Oconomowoc and visit as tourists, are there for the vintage buildings and historic atmosphere. However, two of the city’s welcome signs that read, “The Churches of Oconomowoc Welcome You,” are not welcome to the Freedom From Religion Foundation. This, after the foundation says they received complaints about them.
“I’m sure they have the best intentions but it sends a message that you are not a favorite citizen because the favorite citizens are Christian citizens and the second problem is it violates the constitution,” said Ryan Jayne, Freedom From Religion Foundation.
The foundation wrote a letter to the mayor asking that the signs be moved to private property or removed from city owned land.
A city official tells FOX6 they are investigating and aren’t sure how long the signs have been there or why. One clue: part of the sign says Kiwanis 1953. A call to the current Kiwanis president acknowledged that a Kiwanis group decades ago, called “The Evening Club,” put it up. Most members are no longer around to ask why.
“If it endorses religion, which we think that it does, it was unconstitutional whenever it was put up and it’s still unconstitutional now,” said Jayne.