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The Town of Saguenay's webiste with an image of Jesus Christ, linking to a page soliciting donations. ((Town of Saguenay))

The collection plate is filling fast for a Quebec municipality on a religious mission.

The municipality of Saguenay, Que. says it has raised $10,000 on the first day of a high-profile fundraising drive.

'Not even in Antiquity, not even in the Middle Ages, a mayor was punished for saying a prayer!' —Saguenay Mayor Jean Tremblay

It needs money to keep up its legal battle against those who want to stop prayers at council meetings.

The controversy began when a citizen complained about the crucifix and sacred heart statue hanging in council chambers, and about prayers recited before the meetings.

That led Quebec's Human Rights Tribunal to order a stop to the practice. The city of Saguenay says it will appeal.

Mayor Jean Tremblay has created a 1-800 number and placed an image of Jesus Christ, with his palm outstretched, seeking donations. The appeal now lives on Saguenay's website.

"Where are we French-Canadians going with our values?" Tremblay asked Wednesday, as he announced the appeal bid.

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Jean Tremblay, the mayor of Saguenay, Que., says he is confident a human rights tribunal decision banning prayer at city council meetings will be overturned. ((Saguenay))

"Where will we French-Canadians be in 50 years?"

The firebrand mayor confidently stated that in the entire history of the human race, there had never been a precedent for such persecution as that suffered by his administration.

"In the history of the world, and we verified this just for fun, this has never happened," Tremblay said.

"Not even in Antiquity, not even in the Middle Ages, a mayor was punished for saying a prayer!"

In its verdict, rendered last week, the human rights tribunal ordered the crucifix removed, demanded an end to prayers at council meetings, and asked the city to pay $30,000 in penalties to the citizen who complained.