The "appropriate greetings" going before city councillors for approval - one for use at events where food is served, and one for events without food - include the words "God" and "amen," but also pay respect to various religious beliefs, and to non-believers as well.
"I always said I would drop the case if they moved to something secular," said Ashu Solo, who filed a complaint with the Human Rights Commission after Coun. Randy Donauer recited a Christian prayer at a volunteer appreciation banquet.
Solo, an atheist who was a member of the city's race relations and cultural diversity committee, said he was offended by the blessing, which included references to Jesus. Solo said it violated his freedom of conscience as guaranteed by the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code and discriminated on the grounds of religion and creed, also under the code.
A portion of one of the greetings reads, "Whether we are thankful for the bounty provided by one God or many, from a great spirit energy that is common to us all, or simply from the good people behind the door to the kitchen, we are all together in this moment."
Solo said with a few minor tweaks - like removing the word "amen" from the end of the greeting - the proposal could be enough for him to drop his case.
"Although this has something for people who do believe in God, it also has something for other people who don't," he said.
The suggested "greetings" are contained in a report on its way before city council's executive committee on Monday, prompted by months of debate about prayers at civic events.
The report says the suggested greetings should use "general and inclusive language and be non-denominational and secular in nature" and are meant to be "edifying and inspirational, rather than controversial."
At previous meetings, city council rejected the idea of eliminating prayer at civic events, opting instead to focus on including religions besides Christianity.
Coun. Darren Hill, however, said he's surprised at the proposal's prescriptive nature.
"If I was doing the grace or thanks at an event, I would ensure it would be secular and inclusive and non-denominational. I don't need the administration to tell me what to say," Hill said.
While Solo seemed satisfied by the proposal, other city atheists weren't keen on it.
"It is obviously not a greeting, but much more akin to a grace, as might be said by Christians over a meal," George Williamson of the Saskatoon Centre for Inquiry said.
The City' s proposed greeting:
Let us together bow our heads.
We take this moment to pause, before the enjoyment of a meal well prepared for our celebration, to recognize and appreciate the gifts from nature provided, the work of human hands contributed, and sacrifice represented for our benefit.
Each of us have our own beliefs. Whether we are thankful for the bounty provided by one God or many, from a great spirit energy that is common to us all, or simply from the good people behind the door to the kitchen, we are all together in this moment, full of the grace that comes from being thankful for a gift that is given.
May we all enjoy the gift that is the good meal before us.
A second option for when no food is served:
Thank you for life and the world, for everyone with whom we share this together. Thank you for today. Let us choose today's goals wisely and live today perfectly.
Let us ensure that we love and respect ourselves and others.
Guide us through our lives to live gracefully.
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