By Thaddeus M. Baklinski

CORNWALL, Ontario, January 28, 2009 ( – After a complaint from an employee about injecting religion into the workplace, Canada Post in Cornwall has banned the use of the phrase “Merci, Seigneur, pour la belle journee” (Thank you, Lord, for the beautiful day) which mail carriers were used to saying  as they departed for their mail delivery rounds.

Orvel Murphy Jr., who has been with the Cornwall office of Canada Post for 35 years, was disciplined by management for using the departure blessing after being instructed not to.

“It’s my right to express myself. When do you draw the line when one person’s human rights infringe on another person’s human rights?” asked Murphy in a Cornwall Standard Freeholder report.

Murphy said that he was told that if any mail carriers use the phrase again they will face suspension.

Canada Post area manager Cavelle Lane told the Standard Freeholder that the ban had been implemented in the Cornwall post office after negotiations between management and the local Canadian Union of Postal Workers, though the union’s shop steward said that most of the mail carriers thought that banning the phrase was simply kowtowing to political correctness.

James Lepage, a postman for 19 years, said, “I’ve said it in the past, and I didn’t mean anything religious by it,” adding, “Most people here feel it’s ridiculous. It’s not preaching, and it’s not pushing religious beliefs.”

The Catholic Civil Rights League, a Canadian civil and religious rights defense organization, commented on the action by Cornwall Canada Post in a press release. The group observed that the issue appears to be more an attack on faith and religious beliefs than a justified response to a legitimate human rights complaint.

“Banning a long-established local greeting because it contains a religious reference, and reprimanding someone for using it, is taking the control of employee conversation to an unacceptable level,” the League stated. They pointed out that “Employers have the right to insist on some sensitivity to religious beliefs and non-beliefs, but this incident speaks much more to an anti-faith mentality than to protecting anyone’s sensibilities.”

“An attempt to penalize the completely voluntary use of a greeting with a religious reference speaks more to a reflex action against believers than to sensitivity to their opposite numbers,” the Catholic Civil Rights League concluded.

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