Update to O Canada Story

Jul 30, 2014

By Diana MacPherson

Just over a week ago, I posted a story about how 9 year old Selaena had sung her version of O Canada that replaced “God” with “please”, on Canada Day and in so doing experienced an unexpected backlash from believers. There were a lot of passionate responses to the article both on this site, on the Canadian Atheist Facebook page and on the Cactus, Cattle and Cowboys Festival Facebook page. Clearly, this is an issue that is important to atheists and it was great to see many reasoned and well articulated arguments from the atheist side. I hope our words helped Christians see things from a different perspective.

Selaena’s dad, Austin participated in many of those discussions and this is what he has to say about the whole thing, as posted on his own Facebook page:

Some clarity:

The folks at the Cactus, Cattle and Cowboys Festival to be held on July 12th at the Rodney Fairgrounds are not to blame for the recent events involving my daughter. I used some choice words when her opportunity to sing the National Anthem was taken away, and I shouldn’t have. I realize that many people are offended by the removal of the word ‘god’ from the anthem, but they too must realize that in our multicultural society, the millions of Canadians that do not recognize any god or gods are equally offended by its inclusion. It was for this reason alone that my children have always sung the anthem this way – my daughter didn’t think she was doing anything that would be considered wrong. This will be my fight to have with the government, and has nothing to do with my daughter nor the CCC Festival.

29 comments on “Update to O Canada Story

  • This is why I actively campaign to limit the worst excesses of religion around the world.

    If your god tells you do do something, then do it, on the proviso, you do no harm to anyone or anything. Your god is personal to you. But so are other peoples gods personal to them. You do harm, when you try to impose your personal gods’ views, on someone else. And that includes people who don’t believe in god. So mind your own business.

    Religion, like sex, should be practiced by consenting adults in private.

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  • I wish NZers had some alternative to their simpering hymn-anthem “God of Nations, at thy feet…”, which is so awful that atheist NZers cannot bring themselves to sing it.
    Why should non-believers “go to the back door of the bus”, and be forced to squirm and shut-up, at public events?

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  • As an evangelical Christian who has no truck with civil religion, I sympathize with this girl and feel bad for her. Since I believe that everyone has to come to their own conclusions regarding belief, it seems like a throwback to earlier times to include references to God in connection to the state. For example, there’s no good reason to still have “under God” in our Pledge of Allegiance. Ditto for “In God We Trust” on our money.

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  • ”God Save the Queen” is going to be a tough one to revamp.

    How about, “Reason Guide the Queen.” or…

    “Please forgive the Queen, please forgive the Queen, she’s just another human.”

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  • It’s not comparable of course, but this reminds me of when, in my early teens, I chose not to stand up when God Save the Queen was played in cinemas after a film; on one occasion a man next to me said ‘Stand up you bastard’.

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  • When I was younger that line was not in the anthem. It was changed in 1968 and the line with God was put in place of a line considered to be too repetitious. So, those who become indignant when the words are changed should study the history of the anthem.
    The other line that requires work is “In all thy sons command”
    I sing: ” In all of us command.”

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  • 17
    NearlyNakedApe says:

    Do you mean the French anthem “La Marseillaise”?…. Because as far as I know, there’s only one reference to God in there.. “Grand Dieu!” (Great God!) which is used merely as an exclamation in a sentence with no religious content. In fact, there are no references to religious belief whatsoever in the anthem.

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  • 19
    PierreDemaere says:

    About the change, okay! Thanks! Does that make it right, though? I –and many, I think– will take the repetition over some reference to something that has not been proven to exist.

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  • NearlyNakedApe Jul 31, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    Alan4discussion Jul 31, 2014 at 3:29 am Those “peace-loving French”, are going to have trouble with their anthem!

    Do you mean the French anthem “La Marseillaise”?…. Because as far as I know, there’s only one reference to God in there..

    You are right.
    I was not referring to gods. I was sarcastically referring to the blood-thirsty nature of the aggressively nationalist song. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Marseillaise#Lyrics
    .. . . . In the context of revamping national anthems!

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  • 23
    NearlyNakedApe says:

    Oh I see. No argument there. Like many people, I was familiar with the melody only. But when I first read the lyrics, I was struck by how jingoistic, pedantic and violent they are. They are badly in need of revision as they don’t belong in this century at all.

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  • I’ve no problem with god save the queen. the national anthem has been the same for some time, asking god to save the monarch of the time (who inevitably dies at some point) and I think those who truly believe the words understand their futility. as a prayer it’s a great way of demonstrating the power of god (none), although the current queen has stayed alive for a long time. this could be put down to an act of god but once agian, not the ideal way to prove your power by elongating the life of a privaliged human at exactly the same period in history where science has enabled virtually anyone to live into old age.

    It’s everything that’s great about britain. it’s like hoping the weather holds, or backing our favorite sports person. It inspires thoughts of poinltess optimism set to a dreary piece of music. It invites dissapointment because we’re british and we take dissapointment well, nay revel in it and our national anthem needs to be about a meaningless entity being charged with the protection of a pointless relic while the next relic in waiting chats to his tomatoes because despite the lack of evidence to suggest anyone’s listening, we carry on regardless. After all if a british god were listening how would he respond to a prayer?

    “sorry that’s not my department”


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  • I think you are referring to “sang impur”, and that’s a frequent misunderstanding :

    In it’s context, “sang impur” means the french people themselves, and it’s a stab at the “pure blood” of nobility.

    Basically it’s saying : ” you may call us only ‘inpure blood’ , but we are willing to spill that blood to fight for our freedom.”

    You are right though that it is pretty violent.
    It serves as grim warning “if you take away our freedoms, we will take up arms and spill blood” .

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  • I agree though that the violence is a bit too much, and hopefully not relevant anymore 🙂

    Offcourse, if you remove all the violence from the song, you are not left with much anymore 🙂

    So basically they would need to create a completely new song.

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  • kenny77 Aug 4, 2014 at 4:33 am

    I think you are referring to “sang impur”, and that’s a frequent misunderstanding :

    In it’s context, “sang impur” means the french people themselves, and it’s a stab at the “pure blood” of nobility.

    I doubt this. If you look at the context it is referring to killing foreign armies and troops aiding the Royalists.

    Aux armes, citoyens, – – – – To arms, citizens,
    Formez vos bataillons, – – – Form your battalions,
    Marchons, marchons ! – – – -Let’s march, let’s march!
    Qu’un sang impur – – – – – – – Let an impure blood
    Abreuve nos sillons ! – – – – -Water our furrows!

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  • I looked into it a little more, and I must apologize.
    This isn’t as clear cut as I thought it was :

    Certain historians claim that it means the french people themselves, citing the follow up sentence as referring to it :

    S’ils tombent, nos jeunes héros,La terre en produit de nouveaux.

    In the first, it’s saying that impure blood will fertilize the lands, in the second, that when their young heroes fall, the earth will create new ones.
    In which case it’s pretty much inciting young people to go kill themselves ( reminds me of suicide bombers ).

    However, other historians refer to it as meaning “counter-revolutionaries” , basically people from other countries fighting them ( Prussia, Austria, etc… ) . In which case it is certainly hateful towards foreigners ( well, anyone non french ).

    They base this on statements by french revolutionaries which use “sang impur” specifically regarding foreigners, which makes it a pretty good case that this was indeed the meaning of the song.

    It’s funny : I looked into it trying to prove my point, and I end up realizing that I’m the one who is wrong.

    Makes me wonder what else i’m wrong about 🙂

    Thanks 🙂

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