Full Page Newspaper Ad Asks People to Pray for Hockey Team

As I write this, here are the current NHL standings:

If you look near the bottom of the list, you see the Montréal Canadiens. In 11th.

Their playoff hopes don’t look great since only the top 8 teams get to go into the postseason and they’re quite a ways back in the points column, so what should their fans do?

According to the Archdiocese of Montreal, they should pray. And to help them out, the Church took out a full page ad in a local paper:

(Paul Chaisson - The Canadian Press)

The Canadiens are purposely left off the list of 15 teams. They’re replaced by “Prions” — French for “let Us Pray” — in the coveted 8th slot.

Faced with declining church attendance rates, the archdiocese is known for employing slick, clever ads that appeal to the public at large when it solicits funds each year.

“You know, the Catholic church doesn’t have the same means as other advertisers, so they need to make an impact,” said Hugo Leger, vice-president of Bos advertising agency, which designed the ad.

Leger said when people get past the joke, they will find a simple message that encourages prayer: “We just want to remind people that the church exists,” Leger said. “And when we say pray, that could mean for the Canadiens, or an invitation to pray in general.”

Commenters below are quick to point out that the English definition of “prion” is “a protein particle that is believed to be the cause of brain diseases” — which sounds about right, too…

Good thing they’re acknowledging that it’s a joke or else someone might accidentally mistake the ad for foolishly suggesting anyone’s prayers would give the team the boost it needs. If they do make the playoffs, it’ll be because of their talent (or the collapse of a higher-ranked team), not because people clasped their hands together in desperation.

(Thanks to Dorothy for the link!)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • beanfeast

    “Prions” – The cause of muddle-headed thinking.

    • Drakk

       Funny because it’s actually a term used to describe an infectious agent composed of a misfolded protein.

    • Ubi Dubium

      Yes, I was thinking that prions are what give you brain diseases like kuru and mad cow.  And come to think of it, kuru infections result from ritual cannibalism. What a perfect metaphor!

      • Michael Appleman

        That is the first thing that popped into my head as well.

    • Mojaverachel

      I’ve finally learned something useful from “Bones”. That whole brain virus from cannibalism was the first thing that popped into my head.

  • Denis Robert

    We quebecers kicked the Church to the curb in the 60s, and other than a few knuckle-draggers and old-timers, never looked back. They can try ads straight out of “Dogma” if they want. Most people will see the joke, chuckle, then go right back to ignoring the Church.

    Quebecers on the whole are pretty strongly anti-clerical. That unfortunately doesn’t mean anti-religious, since a significant proportion of Quebecers still claim belief in a god and adherence to some religious views, organized or not, but the “Church” with a capital C is pretty much dead.

    In my own family, everyone who went to Church on a regular basis is now dead.  And that pattern is repeated all across the province.

    • Anonymous

       If more Americans stopped following organized religion that would already be gigantic step forward. Yes, faith in of itself can be dangerous, but much of the practical crap is solely the result of churches telling people what to think and do

    • http://profiles.google.com/nic.picard Nicolas Picard

       Totalement d’accord, Denis :)

      Evidence for the church’s historical influence over French-Canadians abounds in the use of catholic liturgy in everyday cursing.  English-speaking non-theists always have to square the use of god-related invectives with their beliefs (i.e. why would an atheist say “goddammit”?), whereas for French-Canadians, the most satisfying profanities are perfectly aligned, both historically and spiritually, with general disdain for the church and its people.

      All of which to say when I saw that ad, I thought, like most québécois, “ostie de gang de tarlas,” and went right back to ignoring the church.

    • Anonymous

      It’s unfortunate that so many people still describe themselves as Catholic then.  According to Wikipedia, 83.23% of Quebeckers described themselves as Roman Catholic in the 2001 Census.  Quebec would be a great place for secularists to encourage people to think of themselves as having no religion rather than as non-observant Catholics.  

  • Anon1

    I think it is working. Scott Gomez just scored…

    • Anon1

      I was right! Prions beat Toronto 5-0

  • http://twitter.com/luciferadi Adi Rule

    I think it’s funny.

  • http://twitter.com/0xabad1dea Melissa

    When I saw the article title I was thinking that the team took out the ad themselves, which would have been truly pathetic. At least it’s just the Church using the team as an excuse for attention. 

  • TiltedHorizon

    LOL

    Personally I think praying for them to win would be cheating and should be considered unsporting. I am therefore praying that all prayers influencing an unfair win be marked null and void. They need to earn a win like everyone else.

  • Anonymous

    As an Ottawa fan, if i’m going to pray for anything, it’s for Montreal to keep losing :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/gregm766 Gregory Marshall

    The Habs are going to need a lot more than prays to get them into the post season.

  • Vukota

    Being a fan of the NY Islanders only solidifies my non-belief in god. 

  • Annie

    “You know, the Catholic church doesn’t have the same means as other
    advertisers, so they need to make an impact,” said Hugo Leger,This is what had me spitting out coffee this morning.  Maybe we should send him a picture of the Phillip Johnson cathedral… or let him tour a couple rooms at the Vatican.  Maybe atheists should start using that line to get cheaper billboards?  “Since there is no tithing in atheism, we don’t have the same means as the catholic church.”On another note- I was so proud to see Florida at number 3 (I didn’t even know we had a hockey team)… and couldn’t understand why the prayer ad dropped them so far down?  I guess someone had to go.

    • Guest

      Florida actually has two teams, the Florida Panthers and the Tampa Bay Lightning.

    • Duke OfOmnium

      They’re in third place, only because they’re leading a very weak division.  If you do not consider the division standings, only those of the conference, they should be down where the church ad put them.  

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Guillaume-Muller/869290061 Guillaume Muller

      Thing is, the church is all but dead in Québec. They are going bankrupt. Churches and convent are being converted into condos, climbing centers, libraries (those make me smile everytime).  So the Quebec division of the catholic church is, believe it or not, truly broke right now.

  • http://twitter.com/prenerk Andrew Komar

    The church in Quebec is essentially a big joke anyway. They literally sell off their property as real estate because they can’t afford it. Almost as big as a joke as the Habs are this season. Beat the best, but defeated by the worst. 

  • Duke OfOmnium

    On the other hand, if they sacrificed a hecatomb of bulls to Zeus or a few toddlers to Baal, they’d lock up their playoff spot.

  • bengie

    C-A-P-S CAPS CAPS CAPS! That is all…

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/FDGYHBEWVNGUG763L5X4TON3JQ Nazani14

    I used to care about this sort of thing, but increasingly, I’m just glad to see religious groups and corporate magnates spend their hoarded money.  It helps the economy, and hopefully some of the money makes it into the pockets of the secular.  So, build those giant churches and run those giant ads!  In my experience, the godless are in the majority in ad agencies and media companies, with the *possible* exception of Fox.. 

  • Anonymous

    Definitely a joke, and a self-effacing one at that. By joking about praying for the Habs, the Church is trying to attach themselves to the greater “religion”, thereby becoming once more relevant. It’s not going to work though. Quebecers are, on the whole, much more savvy than that. They’ll laugh and then go on with their 5-decades old secularisation project.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    They sure don’t have much faith if they’re just praying to make the playoffs.  I don’t know what their mathematical potential position is at this point in the season, but shouldn’t they be praying to win every game from now until Game 4 of the playoffs?  I mean if you’ve got God on your side, anything’s possible, so aim big, right?

  • Silo Mowbray

    As a fan of a Western Conference NHL team that happens to be tearing up the charts, I’m a little annoyed that someone thinks the top 8 of the Eastern Conference makes it to the playoffs…which isn’t true.

  • Anonymous

    Tabernac!!!

  • mingfrommongo

    One would think that the church wouldn’t settle for 8th place and making the playoffs. They’d want their team to finish ahead of New Jersey, wouldn’t they?

  • starskeptic

    That 11th place is just their Eastern Conference position- they place 23rd in the League standings.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Matthew-Harmer/100001075982839 Matthew Harmer

    This photograph is clearly faked.  No true Habs fan would pray for results that had Toronto making the playoffs as well.

    • Anonymous

      This photograph is clearly faked.  No true Habs fan would pray for results that had Toronto making the playoffs as well.

      soooooooo true!  *giggling*

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    This is excellent. I completely approve of the RCC further trivializing itself.

    Faced with declining church attendance rates, the archdiocese is known for employing slick, clever ads that appeal to the public at large when it solicits funds each year.

    Even with dwindling members, they apparently still have money to burn. Full page newspaper ads ain’t cheap. Good. Get the money back out into the productive part of the economy.

    “You know, the Catholic church doesn’t have the same means as other advertisers, so they need to make an impact,”

    Yeah. Other advertisers have products you can actually hold and services that you can actually see the benefit from.

    “We just want to remind people that the church exists,”

    Maybe they should try a bus ad that has only one word on it: “Church.”

  • Chrissy Jones

    I’m a Wings fan. We don’t need prayers, we’ve got Nick Lidstrom.

  • http://www.facebook.com/anthonyjwmoss Tony Moss

    Toronto Maple Leafs are in a playoff position.  Sorry Habs, God only has enough energy for ONE Canadian hockey miracle!


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