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Saguenay Mayor Jean Tremblay allowed a Catholic prayer to be said before council meetings. The Supreme Court of Canada's decision now affects all city councils across the nation. Register file photo

The silent majority needs its voice heard on prayer

  • April 30, 2015

My God, my God, why have we forsaken thee. Society is hell-bent on downplaying the existence of God, ignoring Him, pushing Him to the sidelines, pretending that He just isn’t real.

The latest volley in the deity war was fired broadside by the Supreme Court of Canada. In mid-April, the country’s highest court ruled unanimously that the practice of Saguenay, Que., city councillors of crossing themselves and spending 20 full seconds in Catholic prayer before conducting official municipal business was out of bounds.

The right-to-pray issue surfaced in 2007 when Alain Simoneau, a Saguenay resident and an atheist, filed a complaint with the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal about elected representatives reciting prayers in council chambers before meetings. Ordered to stop the praying practice, Catholic Mayor Jean Tremblay instead appealed the decision to the Quebec Court of Appeal. The province’s top court ruled in Tremblay’s favour in 2011.

In turn, Simoneau brought the case to the Supreme Court of Canada, which agreed last year to hear it. The Supreme Court decision deals directly with the Saguenay complaint but its ramifications reach across the country. Prayers are off the agenda, or at least removed from the official proceedings.

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