Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 14, 1999
CWL wants to retain 'God'
Ahteist petition seeking to cut 'God' from charter draws strong response
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
There is a move afoot to remove the word "God" from the preamble to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
As soon as they heard of the move, representatives of Catholic women from across Alberta decided to oppose it.
Assembled June 5 in Edmonton for their 52nd provincial convention, delegates to the Catholic Women's League Alberta-Mackenzie provincial council voted unanimously to oppose any move to remove God from the charter's preamble.
They say they want to keep God in the preamble because Canada began steeped in Judeo-Christian values and because that's what the majority of Canadians want. They'll soon let Ottawa know their views.
The CWL represents almost 10,000 Catholic women in five Catholic dioceses across Alberta and the Northwest Territories. More than 200 delegates attended the convention.
Their action followed news reports that a group of atheists was to hold a protest on Parliament Hill June 8, when NDP MP Svend Robinson was to present the House of Commons with a petition signed by more than 1,000 people who believe the reference to God is offensive.
The government is considering deleting God from courtroom oaths, but there is no move to change the Constitution.
However, CWL leaders decided to voice their opinion now to let the government know they will react vigorously should Parliament Hill ever consider such a move.
"The (CWL) motion to keep the word 'God' in the preamble is based on our belief that historical reasons for decisions require a great deal of thought before changes are ever considered," explained CWL president Lucille Partington in a written statement.
"It's better to add than to remove and even then the reason for change must not be at the will of any minority over the will of the majority, no matter how vocal a minority might be."
God is in the preamble to the Charter because "Canada began steeped in Judeo-Christian values," the CWL president said.
"The CWL today affirms that it is not only Jewish and Christian believers who accept the spiritual reality of God. We believe the majority of Canadians support keeping the word 'God' in the preamble."
The convention also passed a resolution urging the federal government "to support religious freedom internationally."
The resolution follows reports of religious persecution in countries such as Sudan, Pakistan and China.
In southern and eastern Sudan, "the main terror is being directed against the largely black Christian population," states a brief presented at the convention. "In famine-striken areas. . .non-Muslims are given the choice of converting to Islam, being denied essentials, or are simply massacred."
In Pakistan, militant Islamic forces are violently attacking Christians, the brief says.
"Religious activities are tightly controlled in China and are officially limited to 'patriotic' churches. Seminary students are examined on political conformity (and) the publication and distribution of religious material is regulated."
Describing religious persecutions in these countries as "intense and horrifying," Partington called for government action.
"Our CWL feels government funding would be better spent on diplomatically dealing with such abuses by the use of a special advisor than by continuing to spend money on war."