BC Humanist Association Special Lecture: Inspecting the House of Prayers
Dr. Teale Phelps Bondaroff was the lead author on the BCHA House of Prayers Report, and will be visiting Vancouver from his home in Saanich to speak about the report, changes since the report and some of BCHA's ongoing work on these issues.
Episode 336 – Prayer in Victoria with Dr. Teale Phelps Bondaroff
I chatted down with the folks at The Atheist Nomads Podcast and talked about my ongoing work with the BC Humanist Association studying prayer in the BC Legislature, and the findings of our recent House of Prayers Report.
Ontario legislature unlikely to stop saying Lord’s Prayer at the start of each day
Teale Phelps Bondaroff, the association’s research co-ordinator, says the country’s legislatures should eliminate daily prayers and replace them with either nothing, a moment of silence or an Indigenous land acknowledgement. He says starting with prayer wrongly privileges religion, and Christianity in particular, over other belief systems.
“The fact that you are starting a political meeting with a prayer might actually disrespect the prayer itself,” Dr. Phelps Bondaroff said. “It trivializes a sacred thing.”
B. C. Legislature Replaces Daily Prayers with “Prayers and Reflections”
In recognition of the many British Columbians who do not pray or practice a religion — a group which includes some legislators — the B.C. Legislature has decided to amend their standing orders, replacing daily prayer with “prayers and reflections.” That will allow members to offer a more inclusive moment of silence rather than a religious ritual designed to exclude those who don’t practice.
B.C. Legislature changes rules to allow secular ‘reflections’ to open proceedings
British Columbia’s Legislature has changed its rules to formally allow “reflections” to open proceedings each day, in addition to prayer, amid a debate about the place of religion in Canadian assemblies....
The formal change follows criticism from organizations such as the B.C. Humanist Association, that the practice of legislative prayer “discriminates against non-believers and violates the state’s duty of religious neutrality.”
Separating church and state: B.C. Legislative Assembly daily prayers receive minor tweak
Starting next year, members of the B.C. Legislative Assembly will begin each day with "prayers and reflections," rather than just "prayers."
The change to the long held custom was spearheaded by the B.C. Humanist Association, which launched a letter writing campaign arguing that setting aside time every day for a prayer was antiquated, discriminatory and should be eliminated altogether.
It’s Time to End the Practice of Reciting Christian Prayers in Government
And even though some provinces do have non-denominational prayers, B.C. usually does not, and allowing prayer of a single religious practice to dominate that space does not provide an inclusive environment for Canadians in government.
Canada presents itself as the land of multiculturalism and equity. For government to overrepresent one religion, a dominantly Eurocentric one at that, we are automatically shunning the practices we are so quick to preach.
After Analyzing 16 Years of Government Prayers, BC Humanists Want Them to End
The British Columbia legislature begins all Question Period sessions with their version of a religious invocation. In theory, it’s not promoting one religion because the speaker is always a different Member of the Legislative Assembly. As we mentioned earlier this month, the BC Humanist Association (BCHA) was calling for an end to this practice saying it discriminated against the 69% of citizens who don’t belong to any organized religion.
“Prayer in the B.C. Legislature favours Christianity over other faith traditions, favours religious belief over irreligious belief, and violates the state’s duty of religious neutrality,” Phelps Bondaroff noted.
Atheists, humanists want an end to prayers in B.C. legislature
An extensive analysis of prayers in the Legislative Assembly has found that the longstanding tradition tends to favour Christianity over other faiths and recommends the practice be abolished, replaced or reformed “to render (it) less discriminatory.”
B.C. group calls for end to prayers in legislative assembly
"Giving prayers a prominent space at the start of every day in the legislature marginalizes British Columbians who don’t believe in a god and those who don’t think it’s appropriate for MLAs to use their platform to proselytize their private beliefs. It’s time we end this antiquated and discriminatory practice."
Should daily prayer be ousted from the B.C. Legislature?
The BC Humanist Association says while it’s been asked for input to ensure the prayers used represent a broad spectrum of religious and non-religious beliefs, the best course of action is to scrap it altogether.
Currently, a different MLA stands to give a prayer of any religion they choose ahead of Question Period each day.
Should prayer be scrapped in B.C. legislature? Humanist group says yes
The BC Humanist Society says that’s a problem, citing a 2015 Supreme Court of Canada ruling which found that city councils that start with a prayer violated their “duty of religious neutrality” by favouring religious constituents over non-believers