German Parliament Debates Raif Badawi’s “Murder on the Installment Plan,” Unanimously Condemns Saudi Arabia

Members of the German parliament (Bundestag) just did something that we won’t soon see from the U.S. Congress: they put Raif Badawi‘s case on the parliamentary calendar and unanimously stood for his release. Badawi (pictured below, with his kids) is the Saudi blogger who was convicted of blasphemy and ordered to receive a ten-year jail term, plus one thousand lashes meted out in 20 weekly installments.

Tom Koenigs, a member of the Green Party, said the four-and-a-half-month flogging amounted to

… “murder on the installment plan.”

Via Deutsche Welle:

It’s not often that the Bundestag dedicates an entire debate to the human rights situation in a foreign country. But the flogging of the Saudi Arabian Bloggers Raif Badawihas triggered a wave of indignation in parliament, such that the opposition raised the issue on the agenda. The parliamentarians expressed concern and shock about the cruel torture imposed on Badawi, saying that the Internet activist — and his lawyer [human-rights attorney Waleed Abu al-Khair], who was also convicted — should be pardoned and released immediately.



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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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South Carolina Legislator Asks Potential Judges for Their Views on Gays, Guns, and God Before He Can Vote for Them

Newly-elected South Carolina state Rep. Jonathon Hill (below) has a few questions he’d like potential judges to answer before he can vote to confirm them. Simple questions, really. He just wants to make sure they’re conservative and Christian. Otherwise, I’m not sure what he’s doing asking them any of these things: 2. What religious or [Read More…]

Atheist Groups Around the World Have Formed a Coalition To Eliminate Blasphemy Laws Everywhere

It is always heartening to see secular groups working together and this is a perfect cause. A new coalition announced yesterday, called the End Blasphemy Laws Campaign, will aim to (you guessed it) eliminate blasphemy laws everywhere. And, as you can see in the map below, those laws are in effect in much of the world:



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