By Tim Waggoner

SAGUENAY, Quebec, August 7, 2008 ( – The mayor of the Quebec city of Saguenay, Jean Tremblay, says those seeking to take him to court for praying before City Hall meetings are not acting democratically.

Despite criticisms, including a Human Rights Commission (HRC) ruling and further possible legal action, Tremblay has expressed his intention to hold fast to his religious convictions, reaffirming that he will continue to pray before monthly City Hall meetings. He has said he will defend his position in court if called upon.

“My religion has always been more important than my career. I go to Mass every day. I have no intention of betraying my faith, I’d be too ashamed to show up ‘on the other side’ in front of side in front of God,” said Tremblay, as reported by Cyberpresse.

On May 15, Tremblay was ordered by the Human Rights Commission to stop praying before the meetings after citizen Christian Joncas filed a complaint.

“I don’t know why we would stop. Prayers are what we have that’s most precious. To subject ourselves to the whim of some people, very few of them, just two … is to kneel down rapidly, and we don’t have the intention to stop,” was his May response after learning of the HRC’s order.

Alain Simoneau has since filed a second complaint on behalf of the Mouvement laëc québécois, which may involve a $100,000 lawsuit. 

Tremblay says he has been praying for the two men. “I pray for Mr. Simoneau, to reflect a little on what he is doing. I also pray for Christian Joncas, and I’m convinced that it has helped.

“In a democratic system, it is the majority that imposes its law. I am in politics and a politician, who rules his case in the elections. I will not fold for one individual,” explained Tremblay, after confirming he would stop reciting a prayer before meetings if that was the will of the majority he represented.

When asked about potential court costs, which would come out of taxpayer’s money, the Mayor alluded to other costs that are incurred for the sake of justice.

“To ensure the triumph of justice, we pay a fortune. We are building a brand new prison at Roberval, new Courthouse across Quebec. Why religion is less important, why should we be shocked? So far, this issue did not cost a penny to the municipality. I have always defended alone,” said Tremblay.

Tremblay compared any possible court issued punishment regarding his religious convictions to something one would see in a communist country.

“You could see it in China or Russia, not here. It is currently exceeding the limits with that case,” he said.

Mayor Tremblay is an outspoken defender of Quebec’s traditional Catholic Christian heritage. In 2007, he denounced the landslide of secularism that has overwhelmed Quebec since the 1960s and told a government commission that Quebec must revive moral values and needs to retain its Catholic heritage.

See related coverage:

Quebec Mayor Vows to Continue Prayer Despite Human Rights Commission Order

Quebec Mayor Says Province Needs Catholic Heritage and Revival of Moral Values