The Dutch Senate, in a 49-21 vote, agreed today to scrap a 1932 anti-blasphemy law — Article 147 of the country’s Criminal Code.
Back in October, I posted about how the American Legion Post 134 was financially boycotting the Morton Grove (Illinois) Park District because its Commissioner Dan Ashta wouldn’t stand for the Pledge of Allegiance at board meetings. Ashta’s sitting down for the Pledge cost the district $2,600 that the American Legion group had been giving them each year.
This was never about anyone being unpatriotic; this was always about the right to exercise our freedoms, whether that means sitting or standing for the Pledge.
I asked all of you to donate money to the Park District so we could make up for the lost money, at least for this year, and you all responded brilliantly, raising more than $3,000 in just a couple of weeks.
That money was raised by a lot of atheists (and Christian allies) who applauded Ashta for his brave stance.
On November 12, I sent the park district a check for all the money that I had received at that time (minus any fees taken by the fundraising website). I included a brief message explaining where the money was coming from. After not hearing back from the park district and not seeing the check clear from my bank account, I emailed them Sunday night inquiring about the donation.
This is what the district’s Executive Director Tracey Anderson told me Monday afternoon:
… I wanted to wish everyone a really really Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, all the holiday… all you infidel atheists out there, I want to wish you the very best, also. I don’t know what you celebrate during the holiday season — I myself celebrate the birth of Christ — but it’s your choice, and I respect your choice. If you wish to celebrate nothing and just get together with friends, that’s good, too. All the best.
I wrote the other day that it struck me as “sincere-though-somewhat-sarcastic.” Pallister would have been better off avoiding the word “infidel” and not suggesting that atheists “celebrate nothing” — but I didn’t sense any malice. (Though commenters on YouTube and other websites found reason to criticize him.)
After a Reporter’s Biased Story of a Christian Politician’s High School Visit, a Student Who Was There Speaks Out
The other day, I posted about Pennsylvania state Rep. Rick Saccone‘s visit to a local high school to discuss, among other things, his plan to put the words “In God We Trust” in every public school in the state.
Saccone visited Avonworth High School to speak to students in a “Problems in Democracy” honors-level class. Reporter Trina Orlando‘s coverage of the event for Pittsburgh’s CBS affiliate made it sound like everything went just fine:
“I think [the bill] teaches students the history of our national motto and I also think that it reeducates people that there isn’t always a strict separation of church and state,” [student] Brady Collins said.
“I thought that they were very-well versed in the subject. They had great questions. Actually, they had better questions than some of the committee questions I received. So, they did their homework and I thought it was very exciting,” Rep. Saccone said.
Students at Avonworth took an informal vote on the issue prior to today’s debate.
About 60 percent of students supported the bill.
Even though that report featured students who supported Saccone’s bill, and the commentary implied a general level of support, too, the comments on the news station’s website told a very different story. Students who were at the assembly, it appeared, were chiming in that a majority of them firmly disagreed with Saccone — and took him to task for trying to push God into the classroom — and that perspective was missing from the news report.
Yesterday, I was able to get in touch with Max, one of the seniors who attended the event. (I was able to verify that he is, indeed, a student at the school.)