Thursday, February 14, 2008

It's about time: Ontario mulls alternatives to the Lord's Prayer in legislature

Each afternoon, since 1969 (reportedly), the Ontario legislature opens with MPPs reciting the Lord's Prayer. I used to feel sorry for the Jewish and other non-Christian MPPs who would stand in silence and go along with this long-standing tradition at Queen's Park.

But I agree it's about time this practice give way to something more reflective of the modern Ontario. There are good alternatives:

"Quebec's National Assembly has only a daily moment of reflection, while Newfoundland and Labrador has no prayer in the House of Assembly. Alberta uses a set list of non-denominational prayers that are rotated, and British Columbia also rotates the prayers but allows individual members to select the daily reading...A House of Commons committee agreed on the wording for a new, non-sectarian prayer in 1994, which was adopted in 2004."

I look forward to seeing what Ontario MPPs come up with. I also don't look forward to the predictable howls we'll hear from a small number of small-minded Christians claiming this is yet another unfair attack on their religion. Of course, the vast majority of reasonable Christians will have no problem with this.


Arthur Kong said...

Hear, hear to that Matt! The radical Christian right will start making noise soon enough.

Jay said...

About time.

The only concern I have is the fact that in several articles, McGuinty is quoted as saying that the replacement for the lords prayer would be suitable for Christians, Jews, Muslims, and agnostics.

It seems atheist have been left out. Agnostics can take it or leave it but I prefer to leave it out altogether with no replacement. It also seems likely they will just broaden the prayers they say and include in rotation prayers from other faiths. I would hope that atheists will be included and will be able to have a day with no such nonsense occurring. They should just abolish it altogether. Maybe I am just used to being in newfoundland where this bullshit was called out decades ago and really we had no other faiths to accommodate and we knew it was inappropriate.

ALW said...

Sigh. Who really cares, Matt? I mean, technically you're right. But so what? I'm an agnostic, and I could raise a stink every time I'm at a function and someone says grace, too. But I don't.

If you want to know why some of the more radical Christian elements get their backs up, its things like this. Tolerance goes both ways, and sometimes involves tolerating something you don't like so long as the inconvenience or uncomfortability is minimal to you. I certainly agree with the statement that "if you disgree with gay marriage, then don't have one". Surely standing still for thirty seconds (or leaving the chamber if it offends you) isn't so great an inconvenience that it requires fixing.

Matt Guerin said...

I find conservatives so funny. Somebody's right to call gays no better than vermin is challenged, and you freak out and go to bat for him like it's the end of the world.

Meanwhile, a Jew or non-Christian's right to have the main institution of power in their province pretend it's not just serving Christians by using an inclusive prayer at the start of the legislative day, and suddenly you don't take it seriously at all.

It often seems the only rights conservatives are worried about are their own. Everyone else is second class, it seems.

As far as I'm concerned, no one has a right to get their backs up about this, unless one unfairly feels their religion has a right to dominate all others in Canada. I know many rightwing Christians do in fact think this, which is regrettable.

Jay said...

You have just witnessed one of the most perplexing occurances known to atheists Matt. This is well known. People who claim not to be religious tend to be the ones who get more offended when you mention doing something like removing the prayer. Agnostics are fence sitters. Not sure if there is a god or not so they fight vehemently to ensure both options are open. Yet those same friends think silently that he's an heretic or something worse. They seem to just take on the role of apologist for same bizarre reason.