Oath and ‘deep calming breaths’ should replace prayer at council: report

Clerk Helen Finn, seen here during council's inauguration on Dec. 1, 2014, suggests the oath taken during that night, along with deep breathing, should replace invocation. (Cornwall Newswatch/File)

CORNWALL – The city clerk suggests a recitation of the oath of office, similar to the oath during council’s inauguration, should replace invocation.

In her report to council Monday night, Helen Finn suggests the six sentence oath should be recited at the beginning of the council meeting followed by “3 deep calming breaths.”

The move follows a Supreme Court ruling that municipalities should not be conducting religious prayers during a session of municipal business.

In her report, Finn says an informal survey of 200 Ontario municipalities in 2014 by the city of Norfolk shows fewer than 25 per cent had invocation and “most had stopped the practice” as of last month.

Cornwall has had invocation, which has been organized by the Salvation Army, for more than 20 years, states the report.

Monday’s council meeting starts at 7 p.m.

The only other SD&G municipality to recite a prayer – South Stormont – has decided to defy the ruling and continue reciting the Lord’s Prayer at the beginning of its meetings.

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