VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — A move by lawmakers in Victoria to adjust how they open the legislature each day is being lauded by a provincial advocacy group.
The BC Humanist Association has been campaigning for years to have “prayer” removed from the parliamentary procedures, according to Executive Director Ian Bushfield.
“Our association thinks that governments have a duty of religious neutrality and being secular and starting each day with a prayer is a violation of that. So we’d been calling on the government to end the practice,” he says. “With our study we found the majority of these prayers–despite the opportunity of MLAs to do something non-religious–were religious and that those that we could identify came off as overly Christian.”
On Thursday, MLA’s voted unanimously to change the Standing Orders to replace the traditional opening “prayer” with “prayers and reflections.”
“I think the governments motion accurately reflects that not all MLAs in the chamber are religious or want to give a religious prayer. In fact, we’ve seen a couple speak out since who said, ‘You know, I never felt comfortable giving a prayer. But with a reflection maybe I can take that opportunity to say something that’s important to me,'” Bushfield says.
The change will come into effect on the first sitting of the legislature in 2020.