On Friday, two letters (old fashioned snail-mail) arrived for me and the Universit of Alberta Atheists and Agnostics on campus. One ended up successfully in Student Groups Services, the other made it to ECERF somehow and was luckily retrieved for me before the mail staff there could return to sender.
I haven’t drafted responses for them yet, but will do so soon. Regardless, for your reading pleasure, I am transcribing the letters here (I’m going to remove their names, since although they disagree with me, they are polite and tactful, so I respect that).
First, from York County, New Brunswick (with an attached cliping from the Canadian Press article which ran there)
I am writing because I don’t understand your petition to “remove the reference to God” in the traditional convocation speech delivered by the chancellot to new graduates, when you also say you want an “inclusive convocation where everyone feels welcome.”
cc General Faculties Council
Paul Tam, Navigators [check mark]
Pastor Dennis Varty, Campus Alpha [check mark]
Chancellot Eric P Newell [check mark]
A couple things here: First, I think she couldn’t find the address for GFC (since it’s a large governing body), I don’t think she cc’ed the letter to them. Next, I’m really impressed that someone took the time to write four-five copies of this letter. I didn’t even realize people still wrote letters. Finally, I will respond and state that by replacing the narrow religious reference with something that more people can feel inspired by, then more will feel welcome at the ceremony.
The next letter comes from Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta:
I cannot ignore the problem of taking God’s name our of ceremonies at the U of A. It is just a word, if you don’t like it, close your ear.
We have to get back to keeping God in our schools, graduation ceremonies, Christmas, sport events [sic].
The next thing you will want is to take God our of our national anthem.
My father and other soldeirs [sic] fought for religious freedom. I’m not scared or ashamed to say I believe in God, as a Christian. I want you to keep God in these ceremonies.
God should remain there and it must be stopped. I made the decision today to write you our of my comfort zone. I’m not scared or ashamed of God.
I’m proud to sing “God keep our land”. Our forefather’s of confederation believed, based our nation on God’s leading.
I say No – keep God in all ceremonies. As a Christian, since I’ve been a little girl, I’ve known “I Peter 5:7 He cares for you”.
I won’t comment on this letter, you can take it for what it is.
But I do wonder how many letters are being sent to the president’s or provost’s office? How many Christians in this country are taking to letter writing (which they can be very organized at) to attempt to influence the administration? Remember, the Catholic Archbishop of Edmonton “called on students, graduates and donors to the university who feel strongly about keeping the name of God in the convocation ceremony to make their voices heard.” Now, whether or not the majority of “Catholics” listen to him is up for debate, but likely some do.
Then again, I doubt this administration is one to be swayed by majority opinion (remember how they cut credit cards as a payment option).