Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Ontario's idea of inclusiveness

Recently, the Ontario legislature, after a committee review, decided to retain the Lord's Prayer to open each morning session in the chamber. But, to be "inclusive", other prayers from other religions will also be added. Here is the view of the NDP member of the committee, Cheri DiNovo, who also is an ordained Christian minister, expressed in the debate on the motion in the chamber to adopt the committee report.

It's a prayer that one should never-and, may I just say, and put great emphasis on this-be forced to say. Faith is the antithesis of force. No one should ever be forced, in this chamber or anywhere else, to say a prayer they don't believe in, simply to mouth the words, simply to get along. That goes for all prayer, and I hope that everyone here takes that to heart: that what we're saying has nothing of force in it; absolutely nothing.

Those who don't want to pray should leave the chamber and be allowed to stand and not pray, and that a moment of silence should be one of those options. We made sure that we included a moment of silence.

When we're talking about what's right, what's just, what's of faith and ethics and not of expediency and figures, we're talking about something for everyone, particularly something for the minority. Our secular and humanist brothers and sisters made a very good point when they said that human rights is about, in a sense, marginal rights, minority rights, and not just what the majority wants.

I'm delighted that the Lord's Prayer stays. I'm delighted that we've opened the door to the prayers of other faiths. I'm also delighted that we will now have a moment of silence as well to acknowledge those who do not share faith.

The idea that inclusiveness means you have to go out of the chamber and stand while a prayer is said inside is ridiculous. One of the reasons why the court struck down prayer in the municipal chambers was exactly because of this possibility. People would be embarrassed to have to get up and leave.

Secondly, if they are not embarrassed, why do they have to stand up and why do they have to leave? Can't they just sit in their seats until the pious have their innings?

Thirdly, why do the pious assume that non-religious people have nothing worthwhile to say? Why do the atheists get a moment of silence while all the God thumpers get to sound off?

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