By Gudrun Schultz
CALGARY, Alberta, January 25, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The name of God was heard on the lips of a Canadian political leader Monday night, in an unheard-of departure from the recentÂstatus quo in Canada. Conservative leader Stephen Harper ended his election victory speech with the words “God Bless Canada.”Â
The use of that phrase indicates a significant departure from the policies of the Liberal government, which has ruthlessly expunged any mention of God from the public sphere during the 12 years they have been in power.
Bishop Frederick Henry of the Calgary Diocese told LifeSiteNews today that he was “greatly encouraged by [Stephen Harper’s] brief statement of prayer.”
“Too many of our politicians and public figures have been inclined to be almost apologetic for professing their religious belief in God and their values,” said Bishop Henry, who has been an outspoken defender of religious freedom in Canada. “Mr. Harper’s comment dove-tails perfectly with his call for government accountability and integrity, as [its] ultimate accountability will be to God.”
Under the Liberal government,Âmention of Christ and Christian prayer has been forbidden at official government-sponsored ceremonies. At the massive memorial service for victims of September 2001’s terrorist attack on New York City, held on Parliament Hill, no prayer was permitted. Religious leaders, although present from many different faiths and denominations, were not acknowledged nor asked to participate in the ceremony.
The same was true for the memorial service held for the victims of Swissair flight 111, which crashed off Peggy’s Cove in 1998. Church leaders were prevented from mentioning Jesus Christ or offering Christian prayers in the official service held for the victims’ families.
Bishop Henry said Mr. Harper’s reference to God reflected Canada’s history as a nation and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom (Constitution Act, 1982), which begins “Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law…”
The first fundamental freedom listed under the Charter is the freedom of conscience and religion. The second is freedom of thought, belief, opinion, and expression.
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