CITY VIEW – Can prayer solve Guelph’s political problems?

Posted June 3, 2013

As a society, we have held a sacred trust in the power of the Almighty. But not all people adhere to the basic Christian beliefs that have affected our lives since the creation of our country.

Indeed, in 1867, at the beginning of Confederation, there were few Jews, East Indians, Blacks, Agnostics or Atheists existent in the new world.

We were founded by a group of Christian white men. Diversity of our nation was an event that took years to develop. In fact more than 100 years.

Yet today the powerful Christian-based lobbies, operated by a wide-ranging collection of those espousing their particular form of Christian worship and adherence, dominates our institutions both public and private.

Canada has become a country with a diverse population. The Christian-based organized religious are fast become the minority. Yet they maintain a solid base of influence among politicians and business leaders.

One does not have to look too far to see how the influence of the Roman Catholic Church in Quebec has been seriously diminished to the point of being a mere shadow of its former self.

Guelph is an example of a city that enjoys a wide diversity of cultures and religions.

Yet, prayer, Christian prayer, is the religion du jour at city council and other events both public and private.

In a recent column the author, Keith Knight, Executive Director of the Canadian Christian Business Federation, touted the upcoming “Civic Leadership Prayer Breakfast” to be held this fall in the city.

It will be interesting to see how many city staff including police, fire and EMS attend this prayer breakfast at public expense.

In a self-serving twist, Knight complained the event should be titled: “The Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast” that he claims is the case in most other Canadian cities. In one of her better moves, Mayor Farbridge dodged that one understanding her electorate is diverse and she cannot espouse supporting one religion over another.

Prayer plays an important role in many lives. The growing number of people who are turning away from organized religion’s dogma and rituals is self evident as churches empty and congregations seek other means of belief in God, or not.

The Prayer Breakfast event will include guest speaker Herta Von Stiegel, who is a leadership motivator. She extols her experience leading 29 climbers up Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa that included seven physically or mentally challenged persons.

Speaking of her exhilaration of reaching the top of the mountain, and wanting to linger there for a long time, she warns of the danger of staying at the top too long as it can deprive you of oxygen.

Does that sound prophetic when it comes to the 2014 civic elections?

To paraphrase the Tina Turner hit: “What’s prayer got to do with it?”


Filed under Between the Lines

7 responses to “CITY VIEW – Can prayer solve Guelph’s political problems?

  1. paul

    Christian prayer, Hindu prayer or prayer of any sort to the one God we or most of us believe in is all good. We know one thing for sure; the City of Guelph under the dictatorship of Farbridge needs all the prayers it can get!!!!!

  2. I’ve often wondered why in this day and age of various religion and spiritual practices, that each council meeting begins with a moment of silent prayer. Many places have attempted to avoid putting one form of religion and culture above another. Perhaps the moment of silent prayer should become a moment of silent reflection.

  3. Jerry

    Saying a prayer before council meetings is not putting a religion or culture
    over another.
    Who says every council member is not praying in their own way.
    Wether it is a christian prayer,somebody praying to budha,or even a
    hindu prayer.Makes no difference.If it helps,encourages the individual that
    is all that should matter.
    Open your mind to the world and stop closing doors?

    • Jerry: This piece was to illustrate how a Christian organization wants to influence public and private enterprise leadership. It uses the terms and references of Christianity to motivate people in leadership roles to perform better. Nothing wrong with that.
      My argument is that prayer, a primary tool of most religions, is abstract and mostly comforting to the person praying. Prayer won’t win the lottery, or cure terminal disease or make it rain in drought areas. Praying before a council or any other meeting, will not bring good judgment or clarity to the resolution of secular problems. Prayer is really a matter of personal choice and belief.

  4. jerry

    Hello Gerry
    That is were you and i disagree.Prayer can bring healing and comfort to not
    just the person praying but to the group in general.I believe it can bring
    clarity to problems facing council and possible even good judgment.
    Not saying it has for this council but i have personally seen changes in
    people that were making bad decisions in their lives/business.
    And it turned around for the person and positive things started to happen.
    So what i am saying is positive attracts positive.But in saying that anybody
    can pray but is the person or group(council)just going thru the motions or
    are they actually praying.
    Big difference.What is the problem with what Mr Mcnight suggests in the
    name change for the “civic leadership prayer breakfast” to “the mayors prayer
    Is Farbridge not our civic leader?So what is the difference in saying that and saying” the mayor prayer breakfast.”
    He is not saying ‘the mayors christian prayer breakfast”He is just saying
    ‘the mayor prayer breakfast.
    Like you point out in your column every religion prays.
    You mentioned that farbridge dodged a bullet by not committing to the name change.Can i ask how?There is no mention of the meeting being
    christian or non christian.
    Just because the person or group organizing it comes from a christian
    organization does not mean it is going to be christian based but
    have a religion based atmosphere enveloping all religions.
    Again open your mind to the possibilities this can bring to this city and

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