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Owen Sound votes to remove Lord’s Prayer from Council Meetings

Ontario Humanist Society: Owen Sound votes to remove Lord’s Prayer from Council Meetings
SunTimes: During the holiest week on the Christian calendar, council voted 5-4 to replace the Lord’s Prayer with a moment of silent reflection. Coun. Colleen Purdon, the mover of the motion to change council’s practice, said each council meeting should begin in a way that is “inclusive” to people of all religious faiths as well as those with no religious beliefs. “They’re all our citizens and they all deserve to feel welcomed,” she said. Before council voted on the moment of silence, Coun. Peter Lemon put forward a motion to issue fresh invitations to other religious groups to lead council in prayer and recite the Lord’s Prayer as the “fallback position.” It failed.
Councillors Jan Chamberlain, Bill Twaddle, David Adair, Purdon and Mayor Deb Haswell voted to replace the Lord’s Prayer with a moment of silent reflection. Councillors Jim McManaman, Arlene Wright, Ian Boddy and Lemon were opposed. Council’s vote occurred on the same week as Palm Sunday and Good Friday — referred to as Holy Week in Christianity. Purdon asked city staff Feb. 28 for a report on council’s practice of reciting the Lord’s Prayer before each meeting. She said it is not an “inclusive” way to start municipal government meetings and should be reconsidered.
The report, prepared by acting clerk Lois O’Neill, says council’s current format, which includes time to recite the Lord’s Prayer or a “traditional faith blessing,” is set out in Owen Sound’s procedural bylaw. Council must approve an amendment to change the format.
The Ontario Court of Appeal ruled in 1999 that the use of the prayer at council meetings in Penetanguishene violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom.

NOTE: a very good LTE was sent to the Owen Sound SunTimes by HAT member and OHS member Terri Hope:
To the Editor,
Those who support an opening Christian prayer at municipal council meetings are missing an important point.
Simply put, religious prayers are out of place in a non-religious setting. This may have been acceptable 100 years ago, but is not so today, as our society becomes more and more diverse.
To suggest that those of us who are not Christian should “think about something else”, or worse, “leave the room” during the Lord’s Prayer, is highly insulting, demonstrating a baffling sense of entitlement. It is even insulting to those who treasure the prayer.
If I were attending a service in a Christian church, I would gladly comply with the standard procedures, or engage in silent reflection. I would understand that I was a guest. But we are talking about a municipal council meeting, designed to assure good government for all. As an Owen Sound resident who is attending a council meeting, I am not a guest.
It is fundamentally disrespectful to expect the general public to adopt and practice ones’ own set of religious beliefs. Terri Hope, Owen Sound.

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HAT meetings are free and open to members and the public. Call (416) 966-1361 for location information. ___________________________________________________
The Humanist Forum meets Saturday morning 11am-1pm.
The Monthly Meeting, is usually the second Saturday at 1:30pm; specifics should be found on this blog.
The Steering Committee meets the first Wednesday of each month, at 7pm.
The Book Group usually meets on the first Saturday afternoon of the month.