In fact, I am referring to the advocacy group that believes it is within its rights to enforce secular practices on everyone.
Municipal councils across Ontario are defying a call for them to stop reciting the Lord's Prayer before their meetings.
An advocacy group called Secular Ontario sent letters to 18 municipal councils in November claiming the recitation of the prayer violated a 1999 Ontario Court of Appeal ruling. Since then, only Middlesex County has abolished the prayer. Meanwhile, many others -- including Durham Region, Oshawa, Peterborough and Grey County -- have either ignored Secular Ontario's warning or voted to maintain their current practice.
"I'm really quite surprised we stirred up such a hornet's nest," said Secular Ontario president Henry Beissel. "I thought that once government officials discovered they were breaking the law they would hasten to correct it -- but that doesn't seem to be the case."
Mr. Beissel said the continued recitation of the prayer goes against "fundamental" principles of Canadian society.
"You cannot privilege one faith without creating forms of oppression or discrimination at least," Mr. Beissel said.
Durham Region is poised to become the latest municipality to reject Mr. Beissel's contention. On Wednesday, the region's finance and administration committee voted to continue opening meetings with the Lord's Prayer.
Oshawa Mayor John Gray, who sits on Durham's council along with his own city council, argued there is nothing wrong with the custom.
"It's good that we say a prayer, ask for guidance from above in all the decisions that we make," Mr. Gray said. "I don't think there's anything there that's threatening to anyone, especially to those of other faiths. I've spoken to some and they've told me they have no problem with the Lord's Prayer."
St. Thomas Mayor Cliff Bardwick said his council will also maintain the tradition. "If we had an elected member of the council who was not of the Christian faith, we would certainly come to some resolution so that everyone would be satisfied," Mr. Bardwick said.
Mr. Gray contends recitation of the prayer does not violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms because no one is compelled to participate. "Everybody cites the constitution," Mr. Gray said. "But when you read the constitution, it doesn't say we have freedom from religion, it says we have freedom of religion. And sadly, the constitution is being used to erode some of the things we've held near and dear over the many years."
Secular Ontario believes the continued use of the Lord's Prayer violates a 1996 court ruling against the town of Penetanguishene. In that case, Henry Freitag, a 70-year-old Holocaust survivor, sued the municipality, saying he felt intimidated and uncomfortable because of the recitation of the Lord's Prayer at meetings. The court agreed the practice imposed "a Christian moral tone on the deliberations of council" and violated Mr. Freitag's Charter rights.
I love how these people go so far as to accuse praying council members of breaking the law. And people wonder why it is the so-called religious right gets its panties in a bundle. When you have groups like Secular Ontario out there, depriving people of their right to pray, enforcing their secular "morality" on everyone, it's a wonder more people don't get angry. To suggest that prayer goes against the "fundamentals" of Canadian society shows you just how depraved some people are.
Frankly, I am thrilled most municipal councils have ignored these guys. If someone has an issue with saying the Lord's Prayer, they have the right to speak up or remove themselves from the room. No one needs a bunch of interfering secular extremists poking their nose where it doesn't belong.