Credits: JORDAN VERLAGE/QMI AGENCY
SASKATOON -- Prayers would no longer have a place at government events in Saskatoon if the Canadian Civil Liberties Association has their way.
Sheetal Rawal of the CCLA sent a letter to Mayor Don Atchison calling for an end to prayer at municipal events.
"The state should have no role in imposing, endorsing or promoting a particular religion over others, nor should it pressure or coerce an individual into a religious practice," Rawal said in the letter dated June 5.
The letter also expressed support for Ashu M.G. Solo, who filed a complaint against Atchison, city councillor Randy Donauer, and the City of Saskatoon with the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission on May 1. This, after Solo felt discriminated against when Atchinson called on Donauer to lead a multi-religious audience in a Christian prayer at a Volunteer Appreciation Banquet organized by the mayor's office.
"I thought that was extremely inappropriate, extremely offensive and extremely discriminatory because it gives primacy to their religion over all other religions, it violates the separation of religion and government and it's an abuse of office in that they are trying to impose their religious beliefs on others who don't share them," Solo said.
Rebekah Bennetch, a member of the atheist community in Saskatoon and lecturer of professional communication at the University of Saskatchewan, agrees with Solo's original complaint that asked for a public apology, but says he is going too far by launching a human rights complaint.
"This isn't necessarily a human rights issue," Bennetch said.
"I might not appreciate it as a non-believer, but I don't think necessarily my human rights were in jeopardy by having to sit through a 30 second prayer at a meal," she said. "I think it was insensitive - cultural insensitive - but I don't think litigating was the way to go."
Solo said the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission is currently assessing his complaint to determine how to proceed.
Both Atchison and Donauer were unavailable for comment.