Golden Valley City Council Member Tries but Fails to Remove Pledge of Allegiance from Meetings

The Golden Valley City Council (in Minnesota), like so many other city councils, says the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of its meetings. But council member Steve Schmidgall suggested removing it at last night’s meeting, which turned out to be quite the story:

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Texas Christian University Grants Official Recognition to a Campus Atheist Group

Back in February, I posted about how a group of students at Texas Christian University wanted to start an atheist group:

“Freethinking Frogs” is being founded by Alexis Lohse.

The transfer student said she wanted to establish an organization “that was agnostic and secular,” so that students with those beliefs would have a place free to discuss and challenge conventional religious thinking.

There’s finally some good news to report.

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Mayor Who Refused to ‘Support an Organization That Does Not Believe in Jesus Christ’ Issues Public Apology

Last week, the Vero Beach City Council (in Florida) was set to proclaim June 16-23, 2013 as “Humanist Recognition Week” — normally just a formality — but two of the five council members objected to it.

One of them was Mayor Craig Fletcher:

When the council went over the agenda at the start of the meeting, Fletcher asked that the item about the proclamation be removed entirely. His reasoning? “I refuse to support an organization that does not believe in Jesus Christ. I’ll have nothing to do with it.”

This afternoon, though, Fletcher issued an apology for his remarks:

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A Christian Man Sued Oklahoma Over a Religious Image on its License Plates… and Won

This is good news for all of us.

First, some background: Below is a sculpture called “Sacred Rain Arrow” by Oklahoman Allan Houser. It’s currently housed in Tulsa’s Gilcrease Museum.

“It is depicting a young Apache warrior who was selected in a time of drought to shoot a rain arrow into the sky, into the heavens, to bring his people’s prayers to their gods so that they would get rain,” said Anne Brockman, Gilcrease Museum public information officer.

The sculpture has been on display at Gilcrease since 1988 or 1989, she said. It is at the front entrance to the museum, she said.

In 2009, the state began issuing license plates featuring an image of the sculpture:

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Prayer at a Preschool Graduation

During a Texas public preschool’s “graduation” ceremony on May 31st, one teacher urged a student to say “In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

Amber Barnhill was a parent at that ceremony and she was surprised by what she heard. She didn’t want to make a big deal out of it — it was probably just an innocent mistake, right? So she decided to just chat with the teacher and let her know what the issue was:

[The teacher] replied “I’m sorry, but I cannot apologize for that”. She kept reiterating this line through the whole of our conversation. She also said “no one else had a problem with it” though clearly she did not ask everyone involved and “no one has ever said a word to me before about this”. I inserted the word “religion” to which she immediately cut me off with “oh it’s not a religion, it’s a way of life. It’s who I am” and elaborated on this.

The conversation just got more frustrating from there. In short, Amber was the voice of reason. The teacher was the voice of denial.

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