Kelowna council proposes alternative to public prayer

KELOWNA - Councillors have decided to scrap a public prayer at the beginning of its Tuesday night meetings and instead will reaffirm their oath of office after receiving a report from staff on the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling on the constitutionality of prayers at council meetings.

"Council directed staff to bring forward an amendment to the city’s procedures bylaw to include the oath of office, which speaks more directly to the roles and responsibilities of council members to be accountable to citizens, act with integrity and act faithfully in the best interests of the community," the city announced in a press release.

 Under the current council procedures bylaw, prayers are only offered at public hearings held every two weeks in council chambers.

Councillors are free to choose from one of 26 stock prayers or give one of their own.

The Supreme Court of Canada recently ruled the state must maintain strict neutrality in religious matters and found that reciting a prayer before a council meeting is a breach of that neutrality.

Muncipal councils and other public bodies across Canada are reviewing their practices in the wake of the ruling, which came after a protracted legal battle over prayers offered at council meetings in Saguenay, Quebec.

To contact the reporter for this story, email John McDonald at jmcdonald@infonews.ca or call 250-808-0143. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

 

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