Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Good News: Saskatoon City Council rejects prayer policy


By Charles Hamilton, The StarPhoenix:
City councillors and staff will not be told how to pray or not to pray at public events.
On Monday, council’s executive committee rejected the idea of a prayer policy to govern the way city councillors and staff give thanks in public. Many at the meeting, including mayor Don Atchison, thought the proposed policy would cause more harm than good.
“I think it’s a slippery slope,” Atchison told the committee.
The proposed policy was put forward in the wake of the human rights complaint by a local activist who said Coun. Randy Donauer’s Christian prayer at a civic event was offensive and violated his rights. City officials proposed non-denominational greetings to replace religious prayers or grace at civic events.
A report presented to city council’s executive committee said the new policy could affect the city’s Christmas celebrations — everything from the city’s Christmas trees to religious greetings on city buses.
The idea that the policy could impact things like Aboriginal celebrations and other religious celebrations was too much for the mayor.
“I can’t imagine not having a menorah at the Mendel Art Gallery. I can’t imagine not having Merry Christmas on buses,” Atchison said.
While the motion to adopt the policy was defeated, there were two councillors at the meeting who were in favour of a revised policy that would simply restrict religious prayer from strictly city events.
“I hope that even though this policy has not been adopted that the city and council will strive to be more inclusive,” Coun. Mairin Loewen told reporters after the meeting.
The Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission ruled last year there wasn’t enough evidence to move forward with a complaint about “Merry Christmas” signs on Saskatoon city buses. That complaint was filed by Ashu Solo, the same activist who filed the complaint that sparked the prayer policy. He alleged the messages on the buses violated the separation of religion and state and discriminated against non-Christians.

Psalms 53:1  The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.

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