Should religious practices be permitted in public places?

by annelaurenceb on September 2, 2014 - 11:36pm

Religious practices, and in particular prayers, have been an issue in many societies during the last few years. In his editorial published on August 30, 2014 in the Toronto Star, Ken Gallinger discusses two different point of views about this subject.

First of all, he explains the context of why he wrote his article, which is the presence of a women praying beside him during 15 minutes while he was in a public library. He then states that there are many things that disturb him in his everyday life,such as people that are speaking really loud on their phones or even people smoking, but that being beside someone that is praying is not one of them. He then says that this women in particular was not asking anybody to join her, and if you were concentrated enough, you would not even notice her. But should there be a universal answer to this situation, on whether or not it is right or wrong to let her pray in that place? I believe that the author of this article sees that we should accept this situation where one person is practicing its religion this way since it is not harming anybody and he is suggesting that there should be a universal answer to this problematic, which is to let these people do what they want as long as it doesn't affect anybody else. But an opposing point of view could be that some people may still be disturbed by certain religious practices, and maybe in their minds this moral choice should remain a personal choice, and each individual should be allowed to express his disagrement on that question. Gallinger also explains how people may be more disturbed by the ideas behind these practices and that it may be sometimes used to demonstrate political positions on specific subjects.

Another aspect that is being discussed in his article is the fact that he disagrees with using prayers during public occasions such as in the opening of a Parliament session, because in this case he thinks that it is simply wrong. He believes that such practices could become discriminatory since it is not necessarily everybody that has the same beliefs and it is not everybody that is involved. But in some countries where religion is much more present than it is in Canada for example, would that be considered correct and moral since there is a relative perspective on this subject depending on your culture and where you live? This could mean that there is not one particular answer to know if religious practices should be permitted in public places, but it also depends on the nature and the implications of these practices, which can be different from one time to another. On the other hand, should this question be thought about individually, as the author is saying, since each individual is responsible for his own subjective view on the morality of religious practices in public places?

Finally, at a normative level, this author demonstrates that wheter if the right or wrong depends on the consequences(such as the implications of others in one's religious practices) or on an act's intrisic value (the religious practice itself for the development of one's beliefs), there may be a possible right and a wrong answer depending of the circumstances and the different principles and points of views.

Link to the article:


I really liked the topic you've chosen because I believe it to be an important topic to discuss, especially when living in the West. I’ll start off by saying I agree that one shouldn't implicate others in their religious practices, but I don't see why that would determine whether or not it is wrong or right to practice religion publicly. Living here in Canada where every individual has the right to practice their religion, shouldn't that also mean having the right to practice it publicly? I don't see what’s wrong with practicing your religion publicly, many people practice their religion publicly without anyone really knowing of it. For instance, I wear the hijab (an Islamic headpiece) out, but people don't realize that that itself is an act of worship. That being said, would that mean I shouldn't wear the hijab because the consequence of some people feeling uncomfortable (due to their ignorance) with my presents because of my hijab (a symbol of my beliefs) make my hijab something wrong? The consequences shouldn’t matter, it’s the act itself that matters. The bigger issue that should be touched upon is, do people have private public places to pray in? This is a huge issue that is usually disregarded. Obviously people are going to pray in public spaces if they aren't provided with private public places to pray in. Many Muslims including myself have no place to pray when out, for instance in a mall, many of us have to resort to praying in changing rooms because there isn't a designated place for us to pray. I suggest you read this article for it expands much more on this topic. Nonetheless I enjoyed reading your article, and I think that this topic will make people more conscious of this issue.


Let me start off by saying that this is a very well written article which brings on a topic that has held a lot of controversy for a really long time and has become an interesting topic of discussions for many. As you stated in your article many of us are disturbed by what some people do when were in public places such as the metro or bus in order to get attention or simply because they're too selfish to care about how they affect others around them. However, a lot of individuals that have to practice their religion publicly, usually try to do it without bothering anyone and minding their own business. Yet many of these individuals face a lot of scrutiny about their lifestyle and face constant backlash from other groups. I personally believe that people should respect other people's religion and culture as long as they are not constantly trying to sell you the idea of joining them because I believe that's what irks a lot of the critics and they tend to generalize this to everyone who displays their rituals in public. This is an unjust accusation and people should really open their eyes to the real problem here which is the critics themselves. I would recommend you read this article to learn a little more on the issue: