By Hilary White
TORONTO, May 6, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Ontario premier’s plans to scrap the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer in the Legislature has resulted in a groundswell of opposition. The flood of emails objecting to the proposal temporarily crashed the website of Queen’s Park, and hundreds of phone calls have come in protesting the move.
MPPs have complained that the time and money spent on the project could have better been spent elsewhere, especially considering there had been no calls to abolish the prayer leading up to McGuinty’s decision to put the proposal to scrap the prayer before a committee.
In a move that reportedly surprised MPPs, Premier McGuinty, who continues to claim membership in the Catholic Church, told the legislature in February this year that the time had come to “move beyond” open acknowledgement of Christianity in the Ontario government. He asked a committee to draft a religiously neutral “prayer” that would better suit Ontario’s “religious diversity”.
“I’ve asked for a parliamentary committee, with representation from each of the parties and the Speaker’s involvement as well, to take a look at how we can move beyond the Lord’s Prayer to a broader approach that is more inclusive in nature,” McGuinty said.
McGuinty told media, “We’re much more than just Protestants and Catholics today. We have all the world’s faiths represented here.”
But Ontario, statistically speaking, is not as “diverse” as Mr. McGuinty might believe. Recent figures show that two-thirds of Ontario’s population is Christian. In Canada overall, professing Christians still make up at least 70 per cent of the population.
McGuinty admitted that his suggestion to abolish the Lord’s Prayer had resulted in a scolding from his Catholic mother. He told media today that he is “looking forward” to hearing the recommendation of the committee.
But committee chairman Steve Peters told media that while the response was overwhelmingly against the idea from the public, the committee had not finished its consultation process. Various groups, including atheists and non-Christian organizations, have been given until the end of the month to make presentations.
Conservative MPP Garfield Dunlop said, “The Lord’s Prayer is inclusive enough that it covers a lot of different religions. It’s not just about religion. It’s about tradition.”
“You don’t tamper too much with what you’ve got,” he said. “This really irks a lot of people and gets under their skin.”
NDP MPP for Parkdale-High Park, Cheri DiNovo said that “about 80 per cent” of constituents are in favour of keeping the Lord’s Prayer. “Now he’s getting his groundswell,” she added.
Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory said, “I don’t think there was any thirst to have a debate on this at all, certainly not compared to hospital emergency rooms or lost jobs. But now that Mr. McGuinty – for reasons best known to him – has started the debate, people are quite animated about it.”
The committee consists of Bas Balkissoon, MPP (Liberal Party), Garfield Dunlop, MPP (Progressive Conservative Party) and Cheri Di Novo, MPP (New Democratic Party).
The consultation email form can be found at the website of the Ontario Legislature
Toll Free: 1-800-304-7341
Cheri Di Novo