A recent request from the premier of Ontario to have an all-party committee examine the abandonment of the Lord’s Prayer in the legislature should have citizens scratching their heads. The request to participate in a decision startled other provincial leaders since there has not been any groundswell movement to abolish the Christian creed’s prayer use in the legislature.
Schools long ago abandoned the morning recitation. God Save the Queen and other traditions dating back decades, if not centuries in this country, have essentially been removed from memory. This seems to us to be another case of easy come, easy go.
Reaction to the News has been mixed. Non-Christians who have apparently assumed majority status of Ontario citizens have not risen en masse to thank Dalton McGuinty for his supposed foresight and tolerance. Christian groups, to this point, have not mobilized, although talk radio programs have aired a good number of very disappointed people who believe, and rightly so, that this latest move represents a further degradation of the history and solemn regard the founders of our country had for certain institutions.
This latest chapter in McGuinty’s tenure falls on the heels of radical change to the province’s long-standing trillium emblem last year. It also follows one of the more divisive elections in recent memory where the premier chastised progressive Conservative Leader John Tory for pushing the notion of faith-based school funding. The prospect of special, race-based schools, officially sanctioned recently by the Toronto District School Board, has also raised its head. And once again, rather than hit issues head on, the premier seems happy enough to throw the baby out with the bath water and start over. Who would have thought with an economy teetering on the edge that the issue of the Lord’s Prayer at Queen’s Park would be raised as a priority?
Citizens with little or no religious beliefs will be indifferent to pending changes. People who have different beliefs might get a sense of pride that their views were reflected upon as the legislature begins its day. References to other provinces and jurisdictions that have already made the switch offer little evidence to us that change is necessary. Has Ontario fallen so far behind in its leadership role in Canada that we need to follow the path of other provinces?
Christians, regrettably, will have to watch again, as another tradition is cast aside and the foundations upon which North America was settled, is replaced with a new historical context. Once gone, it will likely not return – begging the question: which value or custom is next up for replacement?