The city of Brampton (near Toronto, Ontario) opens its meetings with this invocation:
We gather today to reaffirm our commitment of service to our City and the people who live here. Give to each member of this council a strong and abiding sense of the great responsibilities laid upon us. Guide us here in our deliberations. Give us a deep and thorough understanding of the needs of the people we serve. Help us to use power wisely and well. Inspire us to decisions which establish and maintain a city of prosperity and righteousness where freedom prevails and where justice rules. Amen.
Pretty harmless, right?
Well, considering the previous invocation used to be the Lord’s Prayer, people are freaking out:
On Wednesday, when that invocation was recited it drew scorn from residents as the word “shame” rang throughout a packed council chamber and people questioned why the Lord’s Prayer was recently replaced. The move to a less specifically Christian prayer has pitted many in this deeply diverse and often divided city against each other.
“You have ripped a 130-year tradition right out from under us,” charged Greta Archer, who spoke on behalf of those in attendance, firing her words at councillors, particularly Mayor Linda Jeffrey.
A 130-year-old tradition that never should have begun in the first place. And you can’t even blame this change on atheists (not that I would’ve had a problem with that):
Responding to blanket statements by members of the public after Wednesday’s meeting that all of Brampton’s faith communities support the reciting of the Lord’s Prayer and it is only “non-believers” who want it removed, Councillor Gurpreet Dhillon, a practising Sikh, refuted that claim.
“Our mayor consulted with council, without any exterior influence or pressures, and it was decided that we should go with a universal, non-denominational prayer, which I support.”
If there has to be a prayer, it only makes sense for a town to switch over to a non-denominational one. It’s so much better than the current U.S. method of allowing everyone to offer sectarian prayers.
The Toronto Star agrees in an editorial:
By now, after four more years of growth in the burgeoning South Asian communities, it’s quite likely that Christians are in a slight minority. Surely Brampton, of all places, should make an extra effort to ensure that everyone — Christian and non-Christian alike — feels comfortable when they come to city hall.
Brampton has a lot of weightier problems than how best to ask for guidance from on high. Let’s pray that the city quickly puts this issue behind it.
Damn right. Get down to business and let church leaders waste their time calling out to God.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Steve for the link)