Is Canada Tradition-phobic?

Here we go again! Another bastion of political progressiveness, under the leadership of politicians who want to end the daily recital of the Lord’s Prayer in our country’s municipal, provincial and federal legislatures.

It’s been a traditional practice for many years, dating back to the Victorian age. But that was then, this is now. We have “progressed,” right? We have outgrown our need to call upon or depend upon the input of Heavenly Father. The kids have grown up and left home, in many more ways than one.

“It’s time for us to ensure that we have a prayer that better reflects our diversity,” they say. We must “look at how we can move beyond the Lord’s Prayer to a broader approach that is more inclusive in nature.”

Now, this is not unusual. Many of the provincial legislatures have either stopped praying altogether (Newfoundland), allow daily readings from a multi-faith base (BC), pray a non-sectarian prayer (federal government), or permit a daily moment of reflection (Quebec).

But some people are speaking up. The traffic was so heavy when the committee set up the online form that it crashed the website. The Toronto Sun reported that this proposal prompted 5,700 submissions from the public and hundreds of phone calls from many who want Ontario to preserve this Christian tradition.

Bruce Clemenger, President of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, wrote: “The act of prayer itself is an acknowledgement that legislating is not self-sufficient, that politics and governance are not simply human artifice, and that politics itself is an expression of a broader vision of life and is founded in a higher purpose and reality that transcends our individual interests.”

He went on to say that, “Unlike France’s secularist approach that seeks to privatize religion, or the American strict separation which presumes a compartmentalization, in Canada we have understood that religion cannot be separated from other aspects of life and sought non-sectarian solutions which did not eliminate religious expression nor establish one denomination or church.”

Now, praying the Lord’s Prayer must be controversial for us to take such a step, right? We are a multi-cultural, secularist state, right? This is another one of those politically correct acts, right?

Well, listen to who is and who is not standing up for the Lord’s Prayer in Ontario. Len Rudner, Ontario regional director for the Canadian Jewish Congress, suggested that the removal of the Lord’s Prayer, created by a Jew (Jesus), prayed to the same Heavenly Father (Yahweh) that Israel addressed, thought it was a very positive step.

However, Mohammed Saleh, the Imam at Belleville’s masjid (mosque) challenged the removal of the Lord’s Prayer. He felt that it was important to respect the Christian foundation on which Canada was built. I don’t even hear Christians saying that!

He went on to say: “If we live in Canada, we have to obey the laws of Canada. Canada has a Christian background; therefore, we have to [respect] the Christian religion. I came all the way from my country to live in Canada, so I have to obey the law of Canada….I can’t try to change the law. If I didn’t like the law, I would leave. Nobody is forcing me to stay in Canada.”

I find all of this interesting. Canadians seem to have a phobia about keeping any tradition that is rooted into our Christian heritage. Others, apparently, do not share our phobia that praying to Heavenly Father might be in some way damaging to our culture or political decisions.