New Zealand Parliament to Vote on Updating, but Not Eliminating, Daily Prayer

If your local government is considering some changes to its traditions regarding public prayer, it might be worth your time to consider what’s happening in New Zealand’s national Parliament (below) right now. Speaker David Carter has proposed a change to the prayer being used to open each working day and hopes to bring it before his fellows for a vote.

The current prayer, adopted as part of the daily routine in 1962, references “Almighty God” and “Jesus Christ our Lord.” The prayer goes on to ask the aforementioned deity to grant “that we may conduct the affairs of this House and of our country to the glory of Thy holy name,” and it calls for “the maintenance of true religion and justice.” It ends with an old-fashioned Biblical “Amen.”

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San Francisco Photographers Close Their Business Rather Than Serve a Same-Sex Couple

Another business has closed up shop rather than serve a gay couple.

When asked to photograph two men for their wedding, Bay Area-based urloved Photography (ironic name, no?) referred the couple to another photographer because of their clashing beliefs. The owners, Nang and Chris Mai, released a statement on their website explaining their version of what happened:



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Louisiana High School’s Veterans Day Assembly Included Christian Prayer

On Veterans Day last week, students at Morgan City High School in Louisiana attended an hour-long assembly which began with a Christian prayer. Furthermore, they were told to stand up and bow their heads. Now, the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center is asking for an apology on behalf of a student who contacted them:



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Acts of Terrorism Rose 60 Percent In One Year, and You’ll Never Guess What the Main Cause Is

From the water-is-wet department, via the Guardian:

Religious extremism has become the main driver of terrorism in recent years, according to this year’s Global Terrorism IndexThe report recorded 18,000 deaths in 2013, a rise of 60% on the previous year. The majority (66%) of these were attributable to just four groups: Islamic State (Isis) in Iraq and Syria, Boko Haram in Nigeria, the Taliban in Afghanistan, and al-Qaida.



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Today, a Judge Heard Arguments That Could Put an End to Saying the Pledge of Allegiance in New Jersey Schools

The American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center announced earlier this year that it had filed a lawsuit against the Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School District in Monmouth County, New Jersey. If successful, the lawsuit would put an end to saying the Pledge of Allegiance in the state’s public schools.

Much like their (failed) lawsuit in Massachusetts, the plaintiffs are anonymous for the time being (presumably to avoid harassment from Christians) and the argument is all about discrimination. They’re not trying to take “Under God” out of the Pledge — instead, they’re arguing that reciting the Pledge itself goes against the state’s constitution and that ritual should stop immediately.

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