Columnist suggests that praying in library is perfectly acceptable
Woman disturbed by prayer in library should worry about something else
There’s no need to be offended by the sight of a devoted person praying in public, Ken Gallinger writes. After all, there are many more things to take offence at, like wearing a racist T-shirt in public.
Iwas doing research in my local library and witnessed something disturbing. A lady had a towel on the floor and was doing her prayers. She would stand up, bow down, and repeat for 15 minutes. Prayer should be done in one’s own home or a religious building. I was offended because the library is a public place and I had to witness something that should be done elsewhere. What are your thoughts?
In high school, I wrote an editorial in our student newspaper calling for abolition of reciting the Lord’s Prayer in public schools. I argued that forcing non-Christians (who, back then, were mostly Jews) to either participate in this ritual or be publicly ostracized was discriminatory. A couple of kids had parents who were school trustees, and when my words of wisdom were carried into their homes, the excrement hit the appliance. But 50 years later, I still think that using faith-specific prayers on public occasions (Remembrance Day, opening of Parliament or legislatures, state funerals, etc.) is wrong.
But this woman wasn’t asking you, or anyone else, to participate in her private ritual. She was silent, and if her bobbing distracted you so much, you weren’t exactly captivated by your research.
And that makes me wonder about the real roots of your indignation. I wonder if the real issue is not that she was a woman at prayer, but rather that she was likely a Muslim at prayer? Maybe that’s unfair; if so, I apologize. And even if I’m right, I have a tiny shred of sympathy; we live in a world where prayer is too often used to make political statements, and hijacking a spiritual discipline for dogmatic purposes is deplorable. But let’s be clear: such misuse is not the exclusive realm of any one brand of religious extremist; Christian fundamentalists, radical Zionists and Islamist zealots are as likely to abuse the “power of prayer” as anyone else.
You offer no evidence, however, that this woman was scoring political points; rather, she seems to have been involved in a personal devotion. Perhaps she was praying for peace in Gaza, Iraq or Ukraine — if so, to quote Christian liturgy, “Let the people say ‘Amen’.”
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I agree that the woman disturbed by the Muslim prayer in the library should worry about something else. She should be worried about the gradual erosion of everything Canada stands for thanks to multiculturalism and reasonable accommodation; she should be worried about the infiltration of the Muslim Brotherhood; she should be worried about Halal food funding terrorism while we have pork removed from schools and prisons; she should be worried that girls taking a Karate course in Halifax are told to go elsewhere because the presence of a female offended a Muslim man; she should be worried about Islamic courses on university campuses not being open to non-Muslims; she should be worried about rallies where Jews and Christians standing up for Israel are beaten and hospitalized by Palestinian sympathizers; she should be worried about Mosques radicalizing our youth; she should be worried about the grooming of suicide bombers; she should be worried about the terrorist plots against our country like the Toronto 18 and Via Rail that by the grace of God were prevented; she should be worried about honour killings, female genital circumcision and acid attacks taking place in our country; she should be worried about the on-going goal of establishing Shariah law and finally, she should be more than worried about the slaughter of Jews and Christians across the world by ISIS, Al Shabab, Boko Haram and all the other radical groups who are beheading, crucifying and hanging anyone who they consider an infidel and a kaffir.
Yes, I am sure the real issue was not the bobbing up and down but that it was a Muslim at prayer. This is simply another illustration of what is permitted for some people but not for others. You proudly made reference to an article written back in high school about removing the Lord’s prayer from school – because it might offend the Jews. It was never the Jews who complained about anything. They weren’t offended by Christian prayers in schools or public places; they weren’t offended by the celebration of Christmas or Easter; they didn’t DEMAND Kosher food in every possible food establishment. In fact, Canadians should be ashamed of the way Jews were treated in the early days. They arrived in Canada after the Holocaust mostly penniless – banned from universities and hospitals when in fact, they had to build their own (The Jewish General in Montreal). Did they whinge and whine about every possible slight – or did they just get on with it, eventually becoming the builders, entrepreneurs and biggest philanthropists in the country. Jews and Christians got along just fine and let’s not forget our country was founded on Judeo-Christian principles. We should be proud of that rather than allowing people to denounce it.
I don’t give a damn if Muslims are offended about anything. I am offended every single day by the gradual erosion of my Christian religion, my values, my liberty and my rights.
Oh, and I’m glad you think there are more troubling things to take offense at – like wearing a racist t-shirt in public? By this, do you mean a shirt bearing an image of Jesus Christ or Che Guevera or perhaps the new hero, ISIS leader al Baghdadi?
Valerie Price, Westmount, Quebec