Thoughts on Prayers

Hey, Hi, Hello!

I’ve noticed recently that there are a surprising number of people who didn’t know that Legislative Sessions begin with prayers in Alberta and are shocked by this reality, so I thought I’d briefly cover the subject.

8 of 10 provincial legislatures begin their day with prayer, as well as all 3 territories. Provincial Legislatures that do not open their day with prayers are Quebec and Newfoundland. Even the House of Commons opens with a daily prayer led by the Speaker. Believe it or not, no daily business may proceed in the house of commons until the daily prayer has been recited, according to the rules of parliament.

It is a standing order in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta that “the Speaker shall offer Prayers every day at the meeting of the Assembly before business is entered into.”

It was also once a tradition for the premier of Alberta to attend an annual prayer breakfast, something the NDP did away with during their time in office. Jason Kenney, a Catholic brought the tradition back in November 2019, just days after the controversial Bill 207 failed to pass int he legislature. Kenney claimed that the prayer breakfast is “pluralism in action” and showed respect for freedom of religion.

Despite the Supreme Court’s in decision in the case of an atheist man in Saguenay Quebec went to the Human Rights Council to raise his concern about his town council meetings opening with prayers that the government should strive for “true neutrality” and that the invocation of a “God” no matter how non-denominational was still an endorsement of theism, most of our legislatures and House of Commons continue the practice as a “tradition”.

As it stands, it appears that someone will have to challenge the daily prayers in the legislature and/or the HoC in order for the “tradition” to change.

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