Canadian Politician (Sort of) Apologizes for Offering Holiday Greetings to ‘Infidel Atheists’

Brian Pallister is the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba, and you may recall his recent impromptu holiday greeting to blogger Natalie Pollock:

… 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.)

Yesterday, Pallister half-heartedly apologized for his comments, though he was mostly upset that anyone took him out of context:

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Is This Canadian Politician Slamming Atheists in an Informal Holiday Greeting?

Brian Pallister is the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba — kind of like a Canadian version of John Boehner.

He recently offered some holiday greetings to interviewer Natalie Pollock, and his comments took a strange turn when he began to talk about atheists:

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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.)

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Why Didn’t This News Station Tell the Full Story of a Christian Politician’s Visit to a Local High School?

You may recall that Pennsylvania state Rep. Rick Saccone (a Republican, of course) has put into motion a plan to put the words “In God We Trust” in every public school — and possibly every classroom — in the state.

Last month, that bill made it through the education committee.

And earlier this week, Saccone visited Avonworth High School to speak to students in a “Problems in Democracy” honors-level class about politics and this bill in particular.

(What the hell was he thinking? He thrives on ignorance and revisionist history, and he’s stepping into the octagon with smart seniors?! Dear lord…)

If you read and listen to reporter Trina Orlando‘s story, though, it seemed like everything went without a hitch:

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Oklahoma House Speaker Defends the Addition of a Chapel to the State Capitol Building

Last week, we learned that the Capitol building in Oklahoma, currently undergoing a renovation, would be adding a chapel to the second floor:

House Speaker T.W. Shannon (R-Lawton) was the architect of that addition:

At the time, Shannon’s spokesperson Joe Griffin tempered the outrage by saying the chapel wouldn’t be built if it was illegal:

“No taxpayer money has been spent on a chapel other than the ink that is on the blueprints,” Griffin said Tuesday. “If we are able to create a chapel, we would love to. But we are not going to do anything that is not constitutional.”

But, you know, that was a week ago.

Yesterday, Shannon wrote an op-ed for the Tulsa World explaining why the chapel deserved a spot in the Capitol building:

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