Calgary council meeting opens without prayer after Supreme Court ruling

A Calgary city council began Monday without a prayer for the first time in decades.

Decision to drop decades practice follows Supreme Court ruling that such prayers infringe on rights

For the first time in decades, a Calgary city council meeting began without the customary opening prayer on Monday in the wake of a Supreme Court ruling against the practice. (Scott Dippel/CBC)

A Calgary city council began Monday without a prayer for the first time in decades.

Instead there was a moment of quiet contemplation.

The move follows a ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada last week that reciting a Catholic prayer at council meetings in Saguenay, Que., infringes on freedom of conscience and religion. 

The decision ended an eight-year legal battle that began with a complaint filed by an atheist and a secular-rights organization against Saguenay's mayor.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi says he is unhappy with the ruling.

Since the mid-1970s, city council meetings in Calgary have begun with a 30-word prayer asking God to guide officials into making wise and knowledgeable decisions and ends with the word "amen."

Some Calgary council members were upset with the decision by the city's law department to drop the opening prayer in view of the court ruling, so the issue will be discussed again at next week's council meeting.


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