Saturday, May 18, 2024

City of Parksville being sued for opening inaugural council meetings with prayer


The City of Parksville is being sued for including a Christian prayer in the opening ceremonies of their inaugural city council meeting.

They are being sued by the BC Humanist Association (BCHA), who on two previous occasions have addressed the city council to remind them of their duty to be religiously neutral in all official council matters.

These two reminders have gone ignored and now the BCHA are pressing forward with their legal proceedings.

The BCHA says that specifically, following the 2022 local elections, Parksville’s inaugural council meeting included blessings from the minister of the Parksville Fellowship Baptist Church.

They say the prayer was “explicitly Christian, asking attendees ‘to pray with me, to our God’ and concluding with ‘I pray all these things in the mighty name of Jesus, amen.’”

“We wrote to Parksville before releasing our 2020 report on prayers in municipal governments,” said Ian Bushfield, Executive Director, BC Humanist Association.

“We wrote to them again following the 2022 elections.”

Bushfield says when they announced their agenda for the last inaugural meeting, they publicly called the council out and asked that they observe the law.

Saying a prayer at a municipal council meeting has been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Canada since 2015.

Since that time, the BCHA has been auditing municipalities throughout the province to ensure all are complying with the law.

According to the BCHA, Parksville and the City of Vancouver are the only two municipalities in the province that continue to ignore the fact that prayers at council meetings have been declared unconstitutional.

Victoria Buzz reached out to the City of Parksville for a statement on the matter. A City spokesperson replied by saying, “The City of Parksville has no comment on these proceedings as the issue has been referred to the City’s lawyers.”

Curtis Blandy

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