The180

A prayer for politicians to stop praying in public

Lorna Dueck prays at work, and she is very public about her faith. She hosts a TV program about news from a Christian perspective. That's why you might be surprised that she whole-heartedly supports the Supreme Court's ruling that prayer does not belong in city council meetings.
Saguenay, Que. Mayor Jean Tremblay. In a decision that had an immediate impact in several cities and towns across the country, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled Wednesday that prayers cannot be recited before municipal council meetings in Saguenay, Que. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot (The Canadian Press)

Lorna Dueck prays multiple times a day at work, and is very public about her faith. She hosts, and produces, a TV program about news from a Christian perspective.

So you might be surprised to hear that she wholeheartedly supports the Supreme Court's ruling that prayer does not belong in city council meetings.

She says there is plenty of room for personal prayer at work, but not when it's led by government: "but governments are required to do all kinds of things that  they can't control through any faith-filled lens."

Many councils who, up until the Supreme Court ruling, started meetings with prayer, used nondenominational ones. In Calgary, for example, Mayor Naheed Nenshi led his council in this prayer: Oh God, Author of all wisdom, knowledge and understanding. We ask Thy guidance in our consultations, to the end that truth and justice may prevail in all our judgements. Amen. But for now, they have a moment of silence instead.  

It's those generic, non-denominational prayers that make it easier for Dueck to say good riddance to prayer in public office. She says there are two main problems with council prayers: "They are coercive at worst, and meaningless at best." 

To people who are not religious, Dueck says the prayer forces faith on them-- and this is no longer a country full of believers, no matter what the religion. To people who are religious, the prayers can be designed to please people of so many faiths, that they end up serving no one.

Every faith-filled person has their own definition of why they're praying, who they're praying to, and how they will pray. So, it isn't just some magic mumbo-jumbo that you say.- Lorna Dueck

Dueck says it's great if politicians want to take them time to say their own prayers at work-- but not as part of the political process: "Government cannot be effective at praying. But individuals can be." 

Because she sees individual prayer as separate, she is torn about how she feels when Stephen Harper ends a speech by saying "God Bless Canada." Listen to the interview to learn more. 

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