CCLA asks Saskatoon mayor “please stop prayer at events”

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (the Canuck counterpart to the ACLU) has sent a letter to mayor Don Atchison asking that the city stop exhorting event participants to pray after atheist Ashu Solo, member of the city’s diversity committee, complained that he felt excluted at a volunteer appreciation dinner where a councillor led a prayer over their food.

The association has sent a letter to Mayor Don Atchison in connection with a city-sponsored volunteer appreciation event in April at which city councillor Randy Donauer allegedly led the audience in a Christian prayer.

“The state should have no role in imposing, endorsing or promoting a particular religion over others, nor should it pressure or coerce an individual into a religious practice,” CCLA spokeswoman Sheetal Rawal said in the letter.

As an alternative to a sectarian prayer, the group suggests a “moment of reflection” might be used at such events.

I’ve never really understood the “moment of reflection” thing either, considering I can think about all the nonsense people have had to go through without spending a long period of time with my head bowed and my hands crossed. I’m not reflecting on things for some omniscient deity’s benefit, and even if such a deity existed, I’m certain you wouldn’t have to think fully-formed sentences at it for it to know what you felt about things “in your heart” (meaning your brain).

But that said, a moment of reflection is far preferable to being told to praise Jesus for the food you’re getting as reward for the good deeds you did — especially when you didn’t do the deeds for a reward, and you know Jesus is a fiction. Perhaps this councillor should have consulted with the member of the diversity committee who was present at the time on whether or not a prayer to a single deity was such a hot idea.

I’m sure the thought never even entered Donauer’s mind though. Privilege will do that.

CCLA asks Saskatoon mayor “please stop prayer at events”

5 thoughts on “CCLA asks Saskatoon mayor “please stop prayer at events”

  1. 1

    Whenever this type of thing happens to me (either prayer or moment of reflection or whatever), I feel under no obligation to lower my head and pretend. Instead, I use the time to look around the room to see what other people are doing – occaisionally I see one or two other people doing the same thing, and know I am not alone. It’s also interesting to see who is taking it seriously, and who is faking it (you can usually tell).

  2. 2

    praise Jesus for the food you’re getting as reward for the good deeds you did

    I don’t think there’s usually a prosperity gospel spin on that ritual.
    From wikipedia:

    Grace is a name for any of a number of short prayers said or an unvoiced intention held prior to or after eating, thanking God and/or the entities that have given of themselves to furnish nutrients to those partaking in the meal. Some traditions hold that grace and thanksgiving imparts a blessing which sanctifies the meal. […] A prayer of Grace is said to be an act of offering thanks to God for granting humans dominion over the earth

    Most of the examples listed are either buff spells or thanks for leaving a planet’s worth of resources unattended.

    A couple apparently summon the king of the universe to just stand near the table and watch everyone else eat.

  3. 3

    I had a homeroom teacher in high school who got upset because I would sit down and do homework during the lord’s prayer. She said that I should reflect on the day ahead and I told her that’s why I’m doing homework. Then she tried the “you’re not showing respect” gambit. I told her that she was disrespecting me by praying in front of me.
    Then I quoted jeebus, matthew 6:5

    And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

    She gave up. 🙂

  4. 4

    I wouldn’t have done anything a few years ago, but now I think that I would interrupt the prayer and say that it’s unfair to some, an insult to others, and most of all… unnecessary. If I was an elected official I could get away with lalala’ing with my hands over my ears, but if I was in the audience and tried that they’d have security throw me out… and ban me from returning. Then the media could get involved.

    I don’t think it’s good enough anymore to just stand there looking around to see who else is also not praying. I think it’s time to say something when the religiously afflicted try to pull off this shit. They only do it because nobody says anything. So say something. Religionists need to be ridiculed at every opportunity imho.

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