FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TORONTO, ON – (April 15, 2015) – The Canadian Secular Alliance (CSA) is hailing today’s landmark unanimous Supreme Court decision invalidating public prayers in Canada’s city governments. The Supreme Court clearly articulated a requirement for state neutrality in which atheists are afforded equal protection to religious believers. The CSA was an official intervenor in this case.
“The state’s duty to remain neutral on questions relating to religion cannot be reconciled with a benevolence that would allow it to adhere to a religious belief,” the court decided.
“The decision is a victory for pluralism, equality and neutrality, rather than a promotion of atheism,” said CSA President Greg Oliver. “Barring the municipal council from reciting the prayer would not amount to giving atheism and agnosticism prevalence over religious beliefs,” the court declared.
Culture or history do not provide suitable grounds to preserve state-endorsed religious expression, the Supreme Court wrote in a decision with far-ranging implications.
Consistent with previous decisions on matters of religion in the public square, the court ruled that “a neutral public space free from coercion, pressure and judgment on the part of public authorities in matters of spirituality is intended to protect every person’s freedom and dignity.”
“The CSA congratulates Alain Simoneau and Mouvement laïque Québécois for their successful effort to make Canada a more inclusive country and calls on municipal councils still reciting government prayers to respect the decision and end this discriminatory practice,” said Oliver.