I was born in Canada, obviously not by choice, and I was taught to sing the national anthem in school without a second thought. This concerns me greatly as I feel it's just another strong reinforcement of religion's presence in our country.

I know it's only a song, but it's THE song that defines who we are as a nation when heard by other countries, or even worse, heard and proudly recited by our youth, who at a young age learn subconsciously that patriotism doesn't exist without "god" coming into the picture. I'd rather be singing "All keep our land" or something as neutral as that, and let the religious keep their songs about god in their private lives.

Generally, people seem to tend to want to stick to their traditions, and even some non-religious people I've talked to seem to have a problem with changing something as traditional as the national anthem. Has this been brought up before by any Canadian atheist or equality groups? Or is it completely a lost cause?

Taken literally, and from an atheist/logical point of view, we might as well be verbally asking Jupiter or the Easter bunny to somehow intervene on the well-being of our country's values and natural beauty should things go awry. Does that not sound like something completely bat-shit insane??

Tags: Canada, anthem, atheist, canadian, change, god, keep, land, national, our

Views: 436

Replies to This Discussion

I don't think I've sung it since the age of 19. I was working at a Summer camp and had to write a special letter to excuse myself from the agony. But it was done. :)
I've heard people suggest "We" or "Let's", which I think are fine substitutions. I'm not sure how you could get the anthem officially changed, though. It would probably require a popular movement or something. Personally, if I were in a position to suggest to kids, such as by being a teacher, I might suggest to them the alternative and let each kid choose. Some people believe in God, so why not let them sing it that way? But if there's an atheist or agnostic kid, such as I was at 8, they might find the option to sing "We" or "Let's" encouraging. I don't feel it's as much of a conformity issue as the American Pledge of Allegiance is. We're not pledging allegiance, we're just singing a communal/traditional song.

By the way, the English version is not a direct translation of the original French, which itself does not mention God (though it does mention faith and the cross), so toying around with words and meanings already has a tradition of its own with the song. There's also an Inuktitut version, which I doubt mentions god, but I don't know the English translation of it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O_Canada
Patriotism is not the same as nationalism.
This is something we at the Canadian Secular Alliance have been working at. www.secularalliance.ca
I would urge fellow Canadians to join as it speaks to many of our common issues of separation of church and state.
I am a member and there have been some good discussions so far.
Is there an official separation of church and state in Canada?
It's NOT official, which makes it even more precarious. Makes religion even more worth fighting. Cuz as soon as you back off, they rise up again, like a bloody virus!
Generally, people seem to tend to want to stick to their traditions, and even some non-religious people I've talked to seem to have a problem with changing something as traditional as the national anthem. Has this been brought up before by any Canadian atheist or equality groups? Or is it completely a lost cause?

First off if thre anthem keeps getting changed there is no tradition, right? If we people want to stick to tradition, sing the anthem in it's orginal form, with O CANADA, GLORIOUS AND FREE instead of GOD KEEP OUR LAND, GLORIOUS AND FREE.
I don't know if this issue has been brought up by any secular/atheist/humanist groups officially, but I know from different email groups I am a member of that it is an issue for many non-believers in our country. Same as our constitution stating that Canada is a country built on values that recognize the supremacy of god. If our numbers as non-believers are as high as some of these unofficial polls show them to be, then we could be a political lobby base to that could influence some real change. I think the big problem is the apathy that a lot of canadians show when it comes to this type of thing. Atheists in the USA are mobilizing in record numbers and they are forming "churches" and groups in every state. But why not in Canada? The local humanist group in my city of 350,000 people has only 20 members and they just basically sit in a room and talk or ask guest speakers to come out. Fundamentalist christianity is on the rise here while traditional churches are seeing their congregations getting older and smaller.
I think what we as secularists need to start doing is using the tactics of groups like the NRA, as they are highly successful at getting what they want. They don't have protests and the like, they write letters to their state and federal politicians. As a lobby group, they make political contributions. Where as a lot of people with more liberal views tend to reinforce each others ideas through these types of discussion forums and rallies. The more vocal we are to our politicians, the more we will be taken seriously. The squeaky wheel gets the grease right?
Hi Ron,

Check out the Canadian Secular Alliance www.secularalliance.ca
I am a member and that is one of our policies. We have been on the radio last year talking about this - and also taking god out if the constitution. I would urge you to join our alliance - strength in numbers! Let me know if you have any questions.
and we also want the 2011 census changed in the religion section - it is skewed to believers.
Absolutely agree! Canadians are ever so polite (English Canada anyway) and consider it practically taboo to discuss politics, religion, or human bodies. It's a wonder anything gets done at all.

The Canadian Free Speech provisions are also more open ended than the USA provisions allowing churches here MORE liberties to go about proselytising their lies.

Up until the last decade or two, Canadians took secularity for granted, how that happened I'm not even sure, but that's how it was. Now I feel recent waves of immigrants have brought religion back to the forefront and Canadians with their sempiternal politeness, have been letting outsiders dictate religious encroachment upon public life under the guise of 'tolerance'.

We need to get organised on this front. I'm going to start a brights or freethinker group in the Yukon, DONE.
I agree completely.

Even though I went to church as a kid, the anthem still got to me. When I was younger I ignored it, much like the several-hour-long ramblings I was forced to listen to each Sunday (after that, one word of "God" before morning announcements was trivial) By the time I was old enough to really rebel, they used an instrumental or half French version, which nobody sang along with. The teachers had a hard enough time keeping us from slouching over the desk and chewing gum or using our lockers and rushing down the hall to class to care that we didn't sing the words :)

The anthem should be a choice, since when it is a requirement people aren't apt to respect it (I'll leave my feelings regarding nationalism out of this forum, heh) So if people think their day will be better by singing a few verses while standing facing a piece of cloth, go ahead; and if you want to praise your God while praising your country, go ahead - just don't expect everyone else to agree with you.

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