August 20, 2012

KIMBERLY, ONT. – Atheists are taking Ontario's Grey County to court to force county council to stop praying the Our Father at the start of meetings.

Peter Ferguson of Kimberly served legal papers on the county July 30 alleging the practice of reciting a Christian prayer at the beginning of a government meeting is illegal.

In 1999 the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled that Penetanguishine, Ont., was violating constitutional guarantees of freedom of religion by starting council meetings with The Lord's Prayer.

Ferguson is seeking an end to the practice along with $5,000 in damages. He has the support of Secular Ontario, a group founded in 2005 with about 20 members.

Catholic Civil Rights League executive director Joanne McGarry supports councils that wish to pray at the start of their meetings.

If there's a need to be more inclusive, then rotate the prayers among the faith traditions of the community, McGarry said.