Supreme Court Decision
On April 15, 2015 the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the City of Saguenay (Quebec) must stop reciting a prayer at the start of its City Council meetings. CFI Canada welcomes and supports this decision and applauds the initiatives of the many individuals and organizations who have contributed to achievement of this historic decision. Of particular note is Mouvement laique Quebecois, the organization that led this case.
CFIC encourages municipal Councils, administrators and politicians to immediately undertake compliance with this decision.
CFIC further calls on Canada’s Federal parliamentarians to show respect and leadership in regard to this decision by ending prayers at sessions and meetings in the House of Commons.
Key Features of This Decision
- Non-belief is recognized as requiring the same protection as any specific religious belief
- Freedom From Religion is validated in Canadian law
- This ruling applies in all parts of Canada
- The House of Commons may be exempt from this ruling based on Parliamentary Privilege.
CFI Canada began offering the Prayers in Public Spaces educational seminar as part of its Secular Seminars Series in 2014; this seminar features an examination of the prayers in public meetings and spaces in an unbiased and interactive format featuring readings of key documents, video presentations and discussion. Participants are also encouraged to contribute to the growing database of information.
In October of 2014, CFIC sent a letter to the Mayors of Mississauga and Brampton (Ontario) offering to provide this seminar to the Mayors and City Councils to inform local debate on this contentious issue. We did not receive a reply.
It is CFIC’s perspective that the Supreme Court decision provides a clear and strong secular direction on the matter of prayers in public spaces. Individuals and groups interested to be involved in their community may wish to consider the following:
- engaging in dialogue about prayer alternatives or options weakens a strong decision – politicians should be encouraged to follow the established law
- protection of all people begins with favouring none – any action by any government which excludes a part of the community must be rejected
- local individuals and groups may be provided training and access to the CFIC Secular Seminar Series to provide education to local communities
- City Councils should be advised to begin the business with a Call to Order
- re-writing any existing public prayer cannot comply with this decision as any prayer will exclude part of Canadian society
- administrators and politicians should be reminded that it is not in the community’s best interests to spend public monies (through legal fees and costs) with the purpose of continuing religious privilege
- this decision does not prevent private citizens from praying at a time of their choosing – it is targeted to government officials leading prayers as a part of government business
Communities where the issue of prayers has recently been a concern include:
- St. Thomas
- Cape Breton Regional Municipality
Following is text from a press release provided by Secular Ontario Concerning a court ruling in the Case of Abbass vs. City of Peterborough:
Peterborough Ontario Resident Wins Prayer Case against City of Peterborough
Secular Ontario, a non-profit corporation formed to promote and defend the secular and civil nature of Ontario society, is pleased to announce that the legal proceedings between Peterborough resident Veronica Abbass and the City of Peterborough have been successfully resolved in Ms. Abbass’s favour.
On May 29, 2015, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice issued the following order:
The Respondent (Corporation of the City of Peterborough) is prohibited from reciting the Lord’s Prayer or any other prayer at its council or committee meetings.
Ms Abbass is pleased with the result. “The Ontario Superior Court of Justice has reinforced the message that the rule of law applies to mayors and municipal councillors,” she said.
- Atheist advertisements have been rejected in Vancouver – again
- CFI to file human rights complaint alleging discrimination by Pattison Outdoor in Vancouver
- Assisted Dying in Canada: Where Do We Go From Here
- Physician-Assisted Death
- Secular Human Rights Campaigns
- HUMAN RIGHTS
- From the Cradle to the Grave
- Raif Badawi
- CFI Condemns Murders at Charlie Hebdo
- New CFIC Logo Designs
- Public Promotion of Religion In Quebec Schools
- Not Over Yet! Humanists Should Speak out on the Right to Die with Dignity
- Catholic School Board Breaking the Law, Complaint Alleges
- Secular Humanists and Atheists Grieve With the Nation
- Canada’s Office of Religious Freedom
- Another Pediatric Death by World View
- James Randi in Toronto!
- Canada’s Blasphemous Libel Law
- Secular, Humanist and Freethought Links
- Winnipeg Bus Shelter Ads Highlight Human Rights Violations
- CFI Manitoba
- CFIC Library needs your help!
- International Human Rights
- CFI Canada Student Campus Groups
- 2015/2016 Flu Shot is a Good Idea
- Atheist Bloggers Risking Their Lives
- Are Organized Religions a Possible Public Health Hazard “Vector”? Apparently we have our job to do…
- Policy Statements
- Canada’s Standing Committee on Health (HESA): Report 13
- STAND UP FOR SCIENCE
- History and Mandate
- Secular Community Services
- Charlie Hebdo and the Question of Blasphemy
- Will You Make a Commitment to Reason and Science Today?
- Carl Sagan Day 2014 at CFI Canada!
- Iceland Removes Blasphemy Law!
- CFIC Condemns Superstition-based Violence
- Who is CFIC, and what do we do?
- CFIDiscourse #1: A Christian in Favour of Atheist Billboards
- How To Help
- The Cave Painter
- Grandmother Fish
- A Call for Justice
- Secular Humanists Grieve with the LGBTQ Community of Orlando, FLA
- Pro-Vaccination Art
- SOS: Secular Sobriety
- CFI Canada Condemns All Faith-Based Violence
- CFI Canada at the Office of Religious Freedom’s EAC
- George Kourounis: Take The Centre With You
- Crisis in Nepal: What can we do?
- Welcome to the Centre for Inquiry
- Spring is late – deadline extended for the Colouring Contest
- CFI condemns attacks on religious groups in Egypt
- Canada Deserves Better Than Pope John Paul II Day
- Living Without Religion