I am afraid the sound of the silence will be deafening!
New Brunswick politician has given notice he will introduce a motion at the Legislature calling for a review of the practise of offering prayers at the start of each legislative session. Green MLA Kevin Arseneau has expressed his preference for a period of silence but his motion will simply ask for a review of practises in other jurisdictions, with a view to changing the NB practise. Currently each legislative session in the province begins with oral prayers for the Queen, and the Legislature, followed by the Lord's Prayer.
The custom of parliamentary prayers has a long history with its origins in the days when countries had official religions, and as the saying went “As prays the king, so prays the country.”
days are long gone, yet the practise continues. Many, like Arseneau, do not feel that is correct. In a country, which is now multi-cultural with people of virtually all faiths, why should the prayers of one be permitted a place of prominence?
Arseneau looks to the neighbouring province of Quebec, which allows for a short period of silence at the start of daily sessions. But that province has also taken the radical step of declaring the state must be officially secular, and under recently passed legislation, any government employee in a position of trust, such as teachers and police officers are forbidden from wearing any visible religious symbols. I think that swings the pendulum too far in the other direction.
Whether a period of silence is the best option or not, I believe that Arseneau's request for a review of various practises is a good first step in addressing the delicate issue of balance between church and state.