Beyond Belief: If Lawmakers Get Their Wish, Islamic Flags and Prayer Banners Will Be a Fixture of Ohio Schools

This eye-popping story is from today’s Columbus Dispatch. I can’t wait for the response from FOX News, Rush Limbaugh, and the fine folks at freerepublic.com.

An Islamic flag and a Muslim prayer banner could be hung prominently in public schools if two state representatives persuade fellow lawmakers to pass the Ohio Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Rep. Tim Derickson, a Republican from Oxford and one of the co-sponsors, called the bill introduced yesterday “a preventive attempt” to block further encroachment on expression of religious freedom. He cited examples such as prohibition of prayer in schools and public places, zoning issues for churches, and public expression of religious faith, such as wearing a Star of David or displaying reverent scenes from the Qur’an.

Asked if the law, had it been in effect, would have affected recent cases where Ohio schools were forced to remove images celebrating Islam, Rep. Bill Patmon, D-Cleveland, said, “You would have a better opportunity of keeping [those pictures] up.”

OK, I did make a few strategic changes to the newspaper’s actual words (and, for good measure, added a little something to the photo).

Here’s the original (real) story:

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Why Is David Barton Lying and Saying Obama Didn’t Mention God in His Thanksgiving Proclamation?

There are times where we post videos of pastors or conservative pundits saying ridiculous things and their defenders will say we’re taking them out of context.

But when Christians lie so clearly, and the evidence is so conclusive, you really have to wonder how brainwashed their supporters are to just ignore the story.

Listen to pseudo-historian David Barton explain President Obama’s recent Thanksgiving proclamation:

Barton: One of the unfortunate things, this is in the past several years, the Thanksgiving message out of the White House no longer even mentions God. When we give thanks, God’s not part of that.

Andrew Wommack: Part of that’s because of who is in the White House.

Barton: That’s a real problem. You check Thanksgiving proclamations of this president with the previous ones and it’s not the same.

That’s an easy thing to factcheck!

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Atheist Ads in Vancouver Get Rejected by Billboard Agency

In 2009, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that transit officials could not ban political advertising — it was free speech even if it was controversial, so it had to be allowed. The ruling had the wonderfully unintended effect of opening the door for atheists to place ads of their own on buses across the country.

But that ruling applied to public transportation run by the government. What about billboards? They’re usually privately owned, but often on public property…

That question doesn’t have a clear-cut answer and Pattison Outdoor Advertising (a major billboard vendor in Vancouver, British Columbia) is betting that they have a right to reject atheist-themed billboards.

A few months ago, they told the Centre For Inquiry that the ads they submitted would not be accepted by the company:

The reason for the rejection?

… silence. The company offered no explanation at all. (I suppose it’s a total coincidence that its owner, Jim Pattison, is an evangelical Christian.)

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The Satanic Temple Wants to Place a Monument Outside Oklahoma’s Capitol Building. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

I did a bit of a double-take when I saw this press release hit my inbox:

The Satanic Temple Offers Donation of Monument to Oklahoma State Capitol

This is the group, you might recall, that performed a “Pink Mass” over the tombstone of Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps‘ mother over the summer.

So what were they up to now?

The Satanic Temple, an established New York City-based religious organization, has offered to donate a public monument to Oklahoma’s Capitol Preservation Commission for display upon Oklahoma City’s capitol grounds. Described as an “homage” to Satan, the purpose of the monument is to complement and contrast the Ten Commandments monument that already resides on the North side of the building. The donation offer has been submitted and is currently awaiting the commission’s reply.

When other government buildings have played host to religious displays, atheists have come in to place monuments of their own. This is really no different, so more power to them! What better way to convince public officials that they’re better off not allowing government buildings to become a religious free-for-all?

That was basically the mindset of temple spokesperson Lucien Greaves:

[According to Greaves], “by accepting our offer, the good people of Oklahoma City will have the opportunity to show that they espouse the basic freedoms spelled out in the Constitution. We imagine that the ACLU would also embrace such a response. Allowing us to donate a monument would show that the Oklahoma City Council does not discriminate, and both the religious and non-religious should be happy with such an outcome. Our mission is to bring people together by finding common sentiments that create solutions that everyone can appreciate and enjoy.”

Sounds downright pleasant, really.

As you can imagine, I had a lot of questions — about the proposed monument and Satanism in general — and Greaves was kind enough to answer them all:

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After Years of Calling It a ‘Holiday Tree,’ Rhode Island Governor Reverses Course

Rhode Island’s Governor Lincoln Chafee just can’t win.

For the past two years, he called the blue spruce erected in the State House a “holiday tree” instead of a “Christmas tree.”

He had good reason for it:

… Chafee, an independent, said the term is in keeping with the state’s founding as a sanctuary of religious tolerance and pointed to the text of Rhode Island’s Royal Charter of 1663.

“The charter, which for the first time in the world gave ‘full liberty in religious concernments.’ Those are the words. First time in the world. It happened right here in Rhode Island,” Chafee said.

Chafee also said the State House is public building paid for by Rhode Islanders of all faiths.

Way to not exclude non-religious citizens!

But after years of taking a beating from conservative groups and Fox News Channel, I guess that whole “religious tolerance” bit is a thing of the past.

Chafee has surrendered to the populists and is now calling it a “Christmas tree”:

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