Last month, the Perth County Council (In Ontario, Canada) did something a lot of American city councils never have the courage to do. They passed a by-law (PDF) removing the Lord’s Prayer from the opening of their meetings, replacing it with a “Moment of Reflection.” It’s not the ideal change, but it’s better than the alternative.
It was a close vote, too:
County councillors voted 5-4 Thursday to replace the prayer with a moment of silent reflection.
Warden Ian Forrest supports the change. “I am very much a believer in the separation of church and state,” he said.
Forrest said in an interview that, as a Christian, he firmly believes in the separation of church and state.
“Looking back at our history ever since the Reformation, the countries that have had separation of church and state have had happier states of affairs than those that haven’t,” he said.
“It certainly is one of the things, unfortunately, that the Americans are struggling with now — the role of the church in the political process. In my estimation, some of them are going in the wrong direction.”
When a government official speaks that much truth, you know people are going to complain… and that’s exactly what’s happening.
A month after the initial decision was made, Councillor Walter McKenzie will be asking the council to “revisit” the Moment of Reflection at their next meeting in the hopes that the others will magically find god… and put the city in danger of being sued.
“It’s a tradition and a custom people have gotten used to over the years,” he added. “It just feels when it’s left out we are missing something.”
At McKenzie’s request, council will re-examine its decision on the Lord’s Prayer at its next meeting March 15.
If anything, McKenzie said it would give councillors one last opportunity to give the contentious issue “a sober second thought.”
He added, “If they wish to reinstate it, fine. And if they don’t, I’m quite prepared to go with what the majority wishes.”
The five Councilors who voted against the Prayer were perfectly “sober” the first time. You would hope they remain steadfastly in support of church/state separation.
Right now, though, most of the public response has been in support of reinstating the Lord’s Prayer.
McKenzie told councillors last week he has received several emails and been stopped on the street by people who are not happy that the Christian prayer was dropped from council’s formal proceedings. He also noted there have been several letters to the editor in local newspapers from people who feel the same way.
“I have had no comments about keeping (the prayer) out; I’ve only had comments about putting it back in,” he noted. “I’m just doing what I thought would be the proper thing and asking if council wishes to take a second look at it.”
Well, it’s time to put a stop to that. Email Councillor McKenzie and tell him you support church/state separation. BE RESPECTFUL! And if you live in Stratford (or Ontario in general), please make a note of that. Let him know that we’re paying attention to what they decide and encourage him to make the right decision. Maybe he’ll end up being the person who flips his vote.
(Thanks to Meaghen for the link!)