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Canadians say leave ‘God’ in national anthem

By Deborah Gyapong
Canadian Catholic News


OTTAWA (CCN) — A June 8 Angus Reid poll shows most Canadians approve of banning prayer before official public meetings, but would not approve of removing God from O Canada.

Only seven per cent of Canadians would approve of removing religious references from the national anthem. Thirty-five per cent agreed the line including God “is maybe not ideal, but that’s how it was written so just keep it.”

Fifty-eight per cent of Canadians say O Canada is fine the way it is. And an even higher percentage (85 per cent) agrees any move to change the anthem would be “a case of political correctness gone too far.”

“Evidently, while the country is growing more secular in many ways, Canadians are in solid agreement on one thing: we should leave the anthem alone,” said Angus Reid. The poll questioned a sample of 1,500 Canadians.

The poll revealed a more complex picture when it asked questions concerning prayer before public meetings. Fifty-six per cent approved of the recent Supreme Court of Canada decision that banned public prayer before the Saguenay City Council meetings in Quebec.

An atheist had gone before the Quebec human rights tribunal to complain the prayer discriminated against him. Canada’s highest court affirmed the tribunal’s findings and ordered not only that the prayer be ended but also that compensatory and punitive damages of $30,000 be paid to the complainant. Forty-four per cent opposed the decision. However, only 34 per cent of “religiously inclined” Canadians supported it, while 78 per cent of those who “say religion is not important to them” were in favour.

When asked how council meetings should begin, 41 per cent said a prayer including the mention of Jesus Christ would be fine; but 75 per cent said the council meetings should begin with no prayer, moment of silence or pep talk. The least popular option among Canadians was to have prayers rotated among various religious faiths (30 per cent).

The poll reveals a generational divide on the court decision, with younger Canadians supporting it 67 per cent to 33 per cent; with those 55 plus opposing it by 56 per cent, with the highest number (29 per cent) of those strongly opposed to the decision.

Regional differences were also apparent in the survey, with Quebec and British Columbia residents most likely to support the Saguenay decision, but those in Saskatchewan and Atlantic Canada the least likely to support it.

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