“Render unto Caesar . . .”

by | May 1, 2015

Sean McGuire at My Secret Atheist Blog has taken on the tedious job of tracking which Canadian municipalities have decided to obey the Supreme Court ruling to stop praying in council meetings. The latest post in McGuire’s series of posts on prayer targets the city of Niagara Falls, Ontario. Not only is Niagara Falls refusing to obey the SCC ruling, the council is going over the falls in a barrel. It is opening its meetings with a “deputation to peace.” However, the correct title for this is “deputation” is “Prayer for Peace,” written by Pope Pius XII:

Almighty and eternal God.
May your grace enkindle in all of us
a love for the many unfortunate people
whom poverty and misery
reduce to a condition of life
unworthy of human beings.

Arouse in the hearts of those who call you Father
a hunger and thirst for social justice
and for fraternal charity
in deeds and in truth.

Grant, O Lord, peace in our days, peace to souls, peace to families, peace to our country, and peace among nations.


At least one Niagara Falls resident is not happy. Clarke Bitter is “strongly considering” filing a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal.  All over Canada, people are writing letters for and against prayer in council meetings. Some are successful. For example Chris London wrote an “Open Letter to Saint John Common Council to stop reciting prayer at Common Council Meetings,” and Saint John, NB council dropped the prayer at meetings on April 27th. According to Shawn Rouse at The Manatee, “God [is] happy to no longer attend boring city council meetings”:

Heaven — Omnipotent beings are going to have a little more time on their hands, courtesy of Canada’s Supreme Court. Last week, the Supreme Court of Canada decided the town of Saguenay, Que., must stop reciting a prayer at the start of council meetings. Despite the ardent objections from faithful Christians, God told The Manatee that He is actually fine with being omitted from the proceedings.

“Oh, thank Me that I don’t have to attend those boring Legislature sessions or city council meetings anymore,” said God. “Good grief, I can’t stand those things and frankly, I don’t need to be there.”

God is confused by some councils’ attempt to break the law,

“I just don’t get it. I thought I settled this back in the New Testament with the whole ‘render unto Ceasar’ thing. Now, they’re getting explicit direction from the top court and still not changing anything. Jeez guys, take a hint already,” said an exasperated God.

There you have it: the word of God, who no doubt put on a heavenly party when he found out that he doesn’t have to attend Oshawa council meetings.


4 thoughts on ““Render unto Caesar . . .”

    1. Rob

      What is a “religious issue” anyway? I’d say that all such issues are internal to (or in between!) their respective religions, and cannot have an influence or effect on atheists or secularists. Atheists are supposedly incapable of having religious issues. Aren’t we?

      I bring it up because I think there is great risk in allowing atheism to be seen as any kind of “alternative” to religion, when it is in fact an ABSENCE of religion – and ONLY an absence. Similarly, secularism is the absence of religious influence rather than an alternative to it.

      84% of the world may claim a religion, but fully 100% claim a naturalist worldview in deed if not also in word (those that didn’t were each given Darwin awards and sent to early graves).

  1. Wanda Wilson

    Incredible how some still cling to this practice in spite of the law. Truly an equality issue and glad it’s getting attention!

  2. Chris London

    What I meant was, the impetus of my letter was about equality for all rather than an anti-religion push. I don’t care about someone’s religion in their personal life, I care about a government that does not choose one religion (or lack of religion) over others.


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