RESOLUTION ON THE INCLUSION OF PRAYER IN THE PUBLIC SQUARE
Brother knights of Saint Patricks Basilica Council 12158 of the Knights of Columbus, in the heart of the Nations Capital, believe that we must be ever vigilant in challenging the federal governments apparent efforts in suppressing all references to the Almighty and in excluding all religious and, in particular, Christian prayer, in national memorial services.
The suppression of religious references in civil ceremonies is by now well known:
Christian clergy conducting memorial services for victims of the 1999 Swiss Air crash in Nova Scotia, were forbidden by federal authorities to invoke the name of Jesus Christ.
In October 2001, the memorial service on Parliament Hill which marked the loss of life resulting from the September 11th terrorist attack on New York City and the Pentagon, was entirely secular in content despite the presence of clergy from three of the worlds great religions.
In 2002, the federal government instructed the chaplaincy of the Canadian Forces not to include prayers referring to Jesus Christ in services conducted for the Armed Forces.
At the most recent memorial services on Remembrance Day, the military padre led a prayer for the nation at large but no reference was made to Christ.
We believe that this governments suppression of public prayer is a misguided effort to ensure no one is offended by the presence or absence of a particular faith at a federally sponsored event. We believe this to be a false reading of the Canadian public and a false strategy for civic harmony. We, the knights of Council 12158, therefore, request the following resolution be endorsed by Ontario State executive of The Knight of Columbus. We also ask if this resolution could be sent to the Government Prime Minister of Canada by our Canadian Board of Directors for the Knights of Columbus:
- Whereas, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states that "Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law," and that everyone has the fundamental freedoms of religion, expression, peaceful assembly and association, and
- Whereas, the majority of Canadians express a belief in a Supreme Being, and
- Whereas, the majority of believing Canadians profess the Christian faith, with belief in God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and
- Whereas, the Canadian people in times of national peril, including during two world wars in the last century, and more recently, in the face of great evil and tragedy, have turned to God for meaning and hope, and
- Whereas, the understanding, strength and solace sought by people at these times cannot be derived from political speeches but can be most perfectly found through religious prayer as expressed by their ministers of faith, and
- Whereas, the Canadian person in a public setting has a right not to be divided into public and private selves, secular and religious halves, and
- Whereas, the prohibition of public prayer in the name of tolerance and multiculturalism is itself intolerant of the culture of faith treasured by millions of Canadians, and
- 8. Whereas, the absence of a traditional, religiously-based moral language in the public square leaves a dangerous vacuum, confusion and drift at the center of Canadian democracy and law, and
- Whereas, the majority of Canadians acknowledge a higher God-given law of life and love which transcends all politics and unites all people, and
- Whereas, the public expression of religious faith, done with respect and in proportion to the many faiths in our land, furthers understanding, tolerance, civic harmony and peace among all people of goodwill,
Therefore, be it resolved that the Government of Canada in general and the Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage in particular, give voice to Canadians deepest spiritual values by returning to an earlier policy of including direct references to God and, as appropriate, to Jesus Christ, as expressed by Canadians spiritual and pastoral leaders at solemn public gatherings, commemorative services, and in the ministry of the chaplaincy of the Armed Forces of Canada.
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