Canadian City Council Replaces Lord’s Prayer with Generic Invocation and Christians Freak Out

The city of Brampton (near Toronto, Ontario) opens its meetings with this invocation:

We gather today to reaffirm our commitment of service to our City and the people who live here. Give to each member of this council a strong and abiding sense of the great responsibilities laid upon us. Guide us here in our deliberations. Give us a deep and thorough understanding of the needs of the people we serve. Help us to use power wisely and well. Inspire us to decisions which establish and maintain a city of prosperity and righteousness where freedom prevails and where justice rules. Amen.

Pretty harmless, right?

Well, considering the previous invocation used to be the Lord’s Prayer, people are freaking out:

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Nova Scotia Supreme Court Says Christian Law Students Can’t Be Punished for Attending Anti-Gay School

For more than a year now, I’ve been writing about a proposed new law school in British Columbia affiliated with (Christian) Trinity Western University where gay students who acted on their sexual orientation would not be allowed through the doors:

Several law societies have said graduates of that school would not be allowed to practice law in their respective provinces. Personally, that argument never made sense to me. I believe that, like private Christian schools in the United States, Trinity Western should have the ability to create its own standards for admission, even if those standards are ridiculous, because students would still have to learn and defend Canadian law as written. In other words, their Christian anti-gay bigotry wouldn’t work in the real world.

Now, the Nova Scotia Supreme Court has ruled along those lines.

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This Christian Radio Station Airs Public School Children Saying the Pledge and No One’s Complained… Until Now

We know it’s hard for students, especially young ones, to remain seated during the Pledge of Allegiance. They’re pressured to stand up and say it. And that’s an ethical problem even if it’s not a legal one.

But surely this is undeniably coercive: A Christian radio station (89.3 KSBJ in Houston, Texas) is going to local public schools “to record classrooms and groups saying the Pledge of Allegiance.” They feature the kids on air and give each one a “KSBJ certificate for showing their patriotism” (because if you don’t say the pledge, you’re not patriotic).

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A Christian Right Group Wants to Undo a Bedrock of Church/State Separation

For more than 40 years, courts have decided whether a certain action violates the principle of church/state separation by applying the Lemon Test. There are three parts to it:

1) The statute must not result in an “excessive government entanglement” with religious affairs.

2) The statute must not advance or inhibit religious practice

3) The statute must have a secular legislative purpose.

That’s it. It’s that simple. If any of those three prongs are violated, the statute is considered unconstitutional and in defiance of the Establishment Clause.

And now, the Christian right group Liberty Counsel wants to do away with the test because they think it hampers their ability to foist Christianity on the rest of us. In an amicus brief filed in response to the case of Felix v. Bloomfield — in which Wiccans are suing the city of Bloomfield, New Mexico over a Ten Commandments monument on city property — attorney Mat Staver explains how, because we’re totally a Christian nation, government officials should be allowed to put up Christian displays:

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“The Belief Book” Teaches Children About Religion from an Atheist Perspective

Any atheist parents out there may want to check out this new children’s book about religion written by David G McAfee and Chuck Harrison (who is also the illustrator). It’s called The Belief Book (with the emphasis on “lie”) and it walks children through what religion is and why people believe in it:

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