Here are a few interesting reactions to the landmark Supreme Court of Canada decision on Wednesday to end prayer in Saguenay Quebec -- which has already had a national effect.
Veronica Abbass has written about the mayor of Cape Breton, who is kvetching about the ruling and vowing to pray in the hallway. Well, good for him.
Hemant Mehta has done some coverage of the mayor of Oshawa, who is threatening to have the prayer before the official part of the meeting within the chambers, which is, of course, a ridiculous and transparent ruse.
Larry Moran has reported that Mississauga is finally going to remove prayer from their city council meetings. Well, she'll obey the law, which I guess means removing the prayer. I wrote about this city in the past. Citizen Derek Gray even appeared before the city council meeting and a crowd of loud churchgoers to try to remove the prayer. That didn't work, but this situation seems impossible for them to weasel out of.
Born again Christian councilman of Halifax, Matt Whitman*, cannot seem to understand why an atheist would have any problem with prayer during city council meetings.
We have to live in a more tolerant world where if someone says 'God,' even if you don't believe in God, or if someone mentions a particular race or political statement, that you can't get so upset about it. This is supposed to be a world of tolerance.Yes, atheists must tolerate Christians getting all spiritually fulfilled all over the chamber before actual business is done. Christians, on the other hand, should not have to tolerate atheists complaining that state endorsed God worship is alienating, marginalizing and intimidating.
"I like our prayer the way it is and I can feel connected to my God through our prayer. If someone else doesn't believe in God, they don't have to because of the prayer," Whitman said.Just shut up and sit down and let Matt set the mood for the rest of the meeting by feeling connected with his God.
*Note: Originally I had Whitman down as the mayor of Halifax. Reader Veronica Abbass pointed out to me that the mayor is actually Mike Savage. He's fine with revisiting the prayer question. I guess that's what I get when I blog in the middle of the night.
In light of the Supreme Court ruling, Mayor Mike Savage says it’s a perfect opportunity to take a critical look at the invocation.So, my apologies to the mayor and thank you to Veronica!
“For a long time we were a predominately Christian community. I think people felt it made sense to have the mention of God,” he said Thursday. “We are becoming more diverse, more multicultural.”
For Savage, prayer is a part of life, but he insists that his “beliefs shouldn’t be imposed upon anybody else.”
Meanwhile, in Quebec, on the day of the judgement, Catholic Bishop of Chicoutimi André Rivest was upset -- because, I think, his religion just lost a privileged position. The article plays back some soundbites. Here they are along with my typically subpar translations.
«Je suis très déçu du dénouement de cette saga. Avec ce jugement, on balaie tous les aspects religieux, et ce, sans nuances».
«Le combat du maire, c'est le combat d'une grande partie de notre population. Bon nombre d'entre nous sont chrétiens et dorénavant, nos croyances ne seront plus respectées».
«On a des droits individuels, mais aussi, des droits collectifs. C'est désolant de constater que l'on ne tient pas compte des droits collectifs dans un débat comme celui-là. »
«Le Mouvement laïque québécois milite, depuis des années, pour faire disparaître la religion de notre société. Ce combat a été conçu pour faire piquer du nez le maire. Pour que, en tant que personnalité publique, ce dernier perde la face devant les citoyens»
I am very disappointed of the conclusion of this saga. With this judgement, we are sweeping away all religious aspects, and this, without nuance.
The mayor's struggle, this is the struggle of a large portion of our population. A good number among us are Christian and from this point on, our beliefs will no longer be respected.
We have individual rights, but also collective rights. It's disappointing to admit that we are not taking account of collective rights in a debate like this.
The Quebec Secular Movement, has been militant for years, to make religion disappear from our society. This battle was conceived to bite the nose of the mayor. So that, as a public personality, this one loses face before the citizens.Is this some sort of projection? A religion's beliefs need not be a dominant force in the province to be respected. What sort of respect does he then think Muslim and Jewish beliefs get in the province? Or do they not deserve respect?
As for collective rights. This is code for Catholic or Christian rights... or corporations... or an idea or something.
Well, it seems like the majority of Canadians aren't particularly keen on prayer in city halls. An online poll over at The Whig puts agreement with the ruling at 56% versus 31% against. A significant 13% were undecided. In other words, it seems like only a certain breed of activist Christian within government really cares.
Although the Quebec National Assembly dropped prayer way back in 1976, they still have that damned crucifix in the chamber and they're still refusing to take it down. This has been an ongoing thorn in the side of their Secular Charter efforts and the subject of at least one online petition and FEMEN protest. Really, if there's any hope of not looking like a pack of hypocrites, they need to move the thing to a museum.
“The (court) judgment did not mention the crucifix in the National Assembly so it’s important to mention that,” Justice Minister Stéphanie Vallée told reporters after noting MNAs have voted twice, in the recent past, to leave it there as a heritage and artistic artifact.Right, whatever. Prayer in the Assembly was an artistic artifact and that got tossed.
Surely in Quebec we can come up with something suitably artistic to hang up where the crucifix once was.
Hell, even this would be more meaningful.
Thanks to Stephanie for some portions.