Stark contrast to U.S. Day of Prayer

OTTAWA, September 17, 2001 ( – At a Parliament Hill memorial service for the victims of the US terrorist attacks Friday, more than 100,000 people gathered to express sympathy. The service, led by Prime Minister Jean Chretien and Governor General Adrienne Clarkson, was disturbingly bereft of common prayer and any mention of faith or even of God Himself.

Ron Gray, National Leader of the Christian Heritage Party of Canada was at the event and told LifeSite that the federal government has insulted people of faith and shamed Canada at a solemn moment in our history. Gray told LifeSite that there were Protestant, Catholic, Muslim, Jewish, and Hindu clergy on the Hill, but they were neither introduced nor even acknowledged.

The forty-minute service began at noon and had a three minute period of silence. Several local letters to the editor expressed great disappointment that the service contained no prayer nor mention of faith. In stark contrast to Canada’s “Day of Mourning” US President George Bush declared Friday a National Day of Prayer.

Gray said the incident was reminiscent of the memorial service in Nova Scotia for the victims of a Swissair crash. During that service, Protestant and Catholic clergy participating said they were told by the Prime Minister’s Office not to use the name of Christ or read from the New Testament at the service.

The Ottawa Citizen reports that the reaction of the religious leaders invited to the ceremony. Pandi Madhu Sahasrabudhe, the spiritual leader of Ottawa’s Hindu community and president of the Capital Region Inter-faith Council, said, “I felt it was unusual. As a person of faith I wouldn’t have cared what kind of prayer was done by who, but there should have been some reference to God, the Creator, the Almighty, whatever.” Rabbi Reuven Bulka, of Ottawa, said, “There was no spiritual lift to the entire experience.” Msgr. Robert Martineau, of St. Patrick’s Basilica said, “By being politically correct they’re really neglecting the needs of people. They’re so afraid of perhaps turning off people who aren’t Christian that they just eliminate it altogether, which is so wrong. You’re not doing anything for anybody.”

In the U.S. meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union tried unsuccessfully to have the US Supreme Court block a moment of silence for the tragedy in Virginia’s public schools.

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