Secularists applaud Wab Kinew's pledge to reform Manitoba legislature prayer

The BC Humanist Association applauds Manitoba Premier Wab Kinew's recent proposal to update the provincial legislature's opening prayers.

At a Multi-Faith Leadership Breakfast on Thursday, Kinew told attendees that he would be seeking to update the prayer that is read by the Speaker at the start of each day's legislature sitting.

I'm asking faith leaders and people who grapple with the questions of secularism and what does it mean to be a Manitoban today to look at this opening prayer and say, 'Is there a way that we could spend this minute that more accurately reflects who we are as Manitobans today?'

Is there a way that we could preserve the space for those who believe in God, and people such as myself who prayer every day, but also to be more inclusive - inclusive of different faith traditions, but also inclusive of people who pride secularism in our society, people who many define themselves as atheists or non-believers?

The BCHA released the third edition of Legislative Prayer Across Canada in late 2023 to reflect the introduction of Indigenous land acknowledgements in Manitoba's Legislative Assembly. In 2022, the BCHA identified seven municipalities in Manitoba, including the City of Winnipeg, that opened their inaugural or regular council meetings with a prayer.

Ian Bushfield, Executive Director:

We're delighted that Premier Kinew is eager to reform this outdated and exclusionary practice. Even more importantly, he's recognized the necessity that any change be inclusive of atheists and non-believers. We look forward to continuing the conversation that he's begun.

Newfoundland and Labrador's legislature has never opened with a prayer and both Quebec and Nova Scotia's legislatures now open with a moment of silent reflection.

The current Manitoba legislature prayer reads:

O Eternal and Almighty God, from whom all power and wisdom come, we are assembled here before Thee to frame such laws as may tend to the welfare and prosperity of our province.

Grant O merciful God we pray Thee, that we may desire only that which is in accordance with Thy will, that we may seek it with wisdom and know it with certainty and accomplish it perfectly.

For the glory and honour of Thy name and for the welfare of all our people. Amen.

Listen to BCHA Executive Director Ian Bushfield on CBC Radio One Winnipeg

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