The Arbiters of Faith: Prayer in the BC Legislature and Religious Entanglement

Daily sittings of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia (BC), Canada begin with a prayer or reflection delivered by a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA). MLAs have the option of using a sample prayer from a list of five provided by Legislative staff, or of delivering a prayer of their own devising. In late 2019, the Office of the Clerk set about revising the list of sample prayers to include a greater diversity of beliefs. Every step that Clerk must take raises practical questions with respect to how bureaucrats can actually make these decisions about what constitutes religion and which religions to select, and to more fundamental questions regarding the appropriateness of the decisions made.

In this talk, Dr. Teale Phelps Bondaroff, Research Coordinator for the BC Humanist Association, will explore the many practical and constitutional challenges faced by the Clerk in this process and potential alternatives to the current sample prayer system as proposed in a paper recently published by himself and Ian Bushfield.

Phelps Bondaroff is a researcher and community organizer with a PhD in politics and international studies from the University of Cambridge, and BAs in political science and international relations from the University of Calgary. Teale is the Research Coordinator for the BC Humanist Association, the Director of Research for OceansAsia, a marine conservation organization based out of Hong Kong, the Chair and Co-founder of the AccessBC Campaign for free prescription contraception, and a volunteer member of the board of the Greater Victoria Placemaking Network. His academic research examines the strategic use of international law by non-state actors. He enjoys playing hockey, building giant puppets, placemaking, and board games, and lives in Saanich with his partner Stephanie. 

NOTE: This event is exclusive to BC Humanist Association members. You can join our membership program today for as low as $10 a year — just click here.

September 24, 2020 at 5:00pm - 6:30pm Pacific Time (US & Canada)

Will you come?

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