Humanists do not believe in supernatural beings.
They have faith that human beings can be good without religion.
If there is no God or gods, then it follows from this view that prayers are pointless.
In Victoria, members of the legislative assembly begin their sessions with a prayer.
For the B.C. Humanist Association, this practice needs to stop.
The group has launched a campaign to abolish the opening prayer in the B.C. legislative assembly.
The association is asking people of similar belief to sign a letter that it has prepared for submission to MLAs.
“The daily prayer in the BC Legislature is an antiquated and discriminatory practice that has no place in an institution that represents all British Columbians,” the letter states.
The letter notes that prayers “exclude individuals from those faith traditions who don't believe prayer should be a public act”.
It also claims that the ritual is rooted in “Christian supremacy”.
“The practice of beginning a public ceremony with a prayer primarily comes from a worldview that attempts to promote Christian supremacy,” the letter states. “Given our country and our province's history of European Christian colonization, removing prayers can be a step toward disestablishing the privileged status that Christianity maintains throughout many of our institutions.”
The letter also cites a 2015 decision by the Supreme Court of Canada, which stopped the practice of Catholic prayers in council meetings in the Quebec town of Saguenay.
It recalls that the court determined that the ritual violated the town council’s “duty of religious neutrality”.
“As representatives of all citizens, MLAs similarly violate that duty when they use their seat in the legislature as a pulpit to express sectarian religious views to the exclusion of others,” the letter notes.
The letter points out that Quebec National Assembly replaced prayers with a moment of reflection in 1976.
Also, the Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly has never begun its sessions with a prayer.