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Jewish activists attack Christian prayer.

Toronto--Henry Freitag says that Christian prayers smack of "dictatorship" and have a "concentration camp" attitude. He says that public references to Christianity are oppressive (The Report, Mar. 5).

Last year, he persuaded the Ontario Court of Appeal to ban the recitation of prayers at city council meetings throughout Ontario, regardless of public opinion. And now he is on a drive to wipe out the "tyranny" of the Lord's Prayer in the Ontario Legislature. Henry Freitag is a Jew from Penetanguishene, Ontario, who has left countless municipal officials and citizens bewildered and angered by the Ontario Court's endorsement of his bigoted claims.

In Nova Scotia, Howard Epstein, a Jewish NDP member of that province's Legislative Assembly, also feels excluded by Christian prayer; he boycotts the daily ritual. He doesn't think that it is "appropriate" for politicians to pray. Epstein, a Halifax lawyer, swears by the current American "interpretation of the separation of church and state". He demands that it be applied in Canada.

Later in the month he claimed he wasn't on a crusade, but MLA's found that hard to believe in view of the relentless Jewish drive elsewhere. Several politicians in Ontario and Nova Scotia are trying to counteract these two activists (Toronto Star, Mar. 31).

Freitag and Epstein are certainly not alone. The Jewish organization B'nai B'rith has called for a purely secular state since Trudeau embarked on his policy of multiculturalism. Most people interpreted this as welcoming different ethnic cultures. But Jewish leaders, no doubt some or all of them agnostics or atheists, saw it as an opportunity to call for equality among all ethical systems, thus rejecting the idea that Canada is a Christian country.

Two years ago B'nai B'rith was successful in getting the Lord's Prayer banned in the Saskatoon public school system. That board is now looking at a Christian education program called Logos for Christian parents who wish their children to have some religious education in school. This is being opposed by a university professor, Ailsa Watkins, the daughter of a United Church minister who states: "The idea of allowing one religious group prominence in public education does not fit with our principles of freedom of religion and freedom from religion."

Similarly, in Nova Scotia there are Christian groups which claim that to oppose Epstein is an act of intolerance. They then propose to replace the Lord's Prayer with secular babblings. The accusation of intolerance came from Harry Kitz of Citizens for Public Service against Brooke Taylor, the legislature's Deputy Speaker (N. Post, Mar. 31). The suggestion for a non-denominational prayer came from the head of the Atlantic School of Theology. Both groups are watered-down Christian groups, the Toronto Public Justice group being at one time related to the Dutch Reformed (Calvinist) church from which it separated decades ago.


We call on readers to send letters of support to the MLA's (Nova Scotia) or MPP's (Ontario) who support the traditional Lord's prayer.

Editors note--The preceding item relates to the activities of secular Jewish activists. The Catholic Church in Canada in the meantime continues to reach out in friendship to the Jewish religious community, "our elder brothers in faith."
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Title Annotation:public prayer, Canada
Publication:Catholic Insight
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:May 1, 2001
Previous Article:A moratorium on Third World debt.
Next Article:Catholic-Jewish dialogue.

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