Quebec mayor vows to fight order to remove crucifix

February 17, 2011

TORONTO (RNS) The mayor of a Quebec town says he will appeal a decision
by a human rights tribunal that bans prayer at city council and ordered
him to remove a crucifix from the council's chambers.


Saguenay Mayor Jean Tremblay said he will refuse to heed the
judgment from the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal that also ordered him to
remove a Sacred Heart statue.


The tribunal ordered the town to pay $30,000 in damages to the local
resident who complained about the religious symbols, ruling they
infringed on his freedom of conscience. The town is roughly 90 percent
Catholic.


Tremblay has set up a toll-free telephone line and posted a link on
the town's website to solicit donations for his legal battle.


"Why is it us Christians that always have to bend?" Tremblay told
the Globe and Mail newspaper. "Our values have no importance. I am the
first mayor in the history of the world to be punished for reciting a
prayer."


The tribunal's decision is widely viewed as the latest step toward
Quebec's aggressive march toward secularism. Earlier this month,
provincial lawmakers voted to ban ceremonial Sikh daggers, known as
kirpans, from the legislature.


In December, Quebec banned the teaching of religion in publicly
subsidized daycare facilities.