Ontario Humanist Society « LTE re Prayer at Council Meetings, Owen Sound/Grey County

Ontario Humanist Society « LTE re Prayer at Council Meetings, Owen Sound/Grey County
From Terri, a Humanist in Owen Sound:
Recently our MP wrote a letter to the editor talking about how and why prayer has a place at meetings of government (Christianity is OUR tradition), and how those who oppose it are the ‘whining minority’.

This is the letter I wrote in response. I’ve had great feedback and thought you and others might want to see it.
Sept 18, 2012 (published Owen Sound Sun Times)
To the Editor, I write this in response to the recent letter from MP Larry Miller.
Mr. Miller,
In your Letter to the Editor, you explained that opening meetings with prayer is a tradition in Grey County, and how the ‘whining minority’ totally ignore the rights of the majority.
You may be aware that years ago, our leaders recognized that some majorities were capable of impinging on the rights of minorities, and thereby created laws that protected everyone. They are called ‘human rights’.
Majorities once felt that slavery was a time-honoured tradition, and vigorously defended their right to continue the practice. The same is true for denying women the vote. Finally courts had to protect the ‘whining minorities’ against those majorities. Times were thankfully changing.
Mr Miller:  How is it that you don’t recognize the Lord’s Prayer as specific to the decisions YOU have made about your life? You believe in a deity, and chose to follow the Christian faith. Not everyone has made these choices, and vocal or quiet, those who haven’t, feel excluded.
You say that those of us who object to prayer in government meetings are merely being “politically correct”, that we’re complaining that  “our rights are being trampled, kicked around.” Did it ever occur to you that many people have been quietly looking on from the sidelines for years, and are only now revealing their displeasure at your sense of entitlement?
For the first time in many, many years, people who have not chosen the Christian faith  are openly objecting to religious invocations, your naming the tradition “ours”, when in fact it was YOURS.  Why is this so difficult to understand?
I am proposing that we begin with an invocation representing everyone, wishing our elected officials a thoughtful and productive meeting.  Here’s my suggestion: A Councillor says:
“As we approach our work here today, may we be mindful of our role as leaders in Owen Sound/the Province of Ontario/Canada, etc., a place of great beauty and opportunity. As we face our decisions, may we be guided by strong ethics, sound judgement, wisdom, fairness and carefully acquired knowledge. May we never forget the trust placed in us by the people of Owen Sound/the Province of Ontario/Canada.”
And thankfully, religious people can continue to pray in their homes, churches and synagogues.
Terri Hope,  Owen Sound

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