As Canada prepares to loosen laws related to medical assistance in dying, prayers published by the United Church of Canada designed to help sick and disabled people follow through with the lethal procedure are drawing criticism and shock.
Although euthanasia has been available to many Canadians for the past six years, the nation’s parliament considered amendments to the criminal code last year that would expand the availability of the practice. Among other changes, a citizen possessing only a “mental illness” can now request euthanasia starting next spring, whereas the practice was originally limited to individuals with serious physical illnesses or disabilities.
The new legislation does not explicitly allow minors to seek assisted suicide. However, the “mature minor” doctrine held by some provincial governments may allow “children who are sufficiently mature to make their own treatment decisions” apart from parental consent.
Even as many Canadian Christians vehemently oppose the rising prevalence of medical assistance in dying, arguing that the practice is a secularized affront to mankind as created in the image of God, the United Church of Canada — one of the largest mainline Protestant denomination in Canada, which embraces the LGBTQ movement and social justice ideology, has drafted a number of prayers designed to aid with euthanasia procedures.
The Prayer in the Midst of Fear, which is co-authored by a United Church of Canada minister and the former co-president Dying with Dignity, an advocacy group which supported the legalization of assisted suicide in Canada, can be described as an exercise in radical autonomy. The supplication centers upon asking God that family members would accept their loved one’s decision to kill themselves with the aid of medical professionals. Making no mention of eternal life secured through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the prayer attempts to embrace an uncertainty about death.
I am afraid. I feel fear penetrating my mind and my heart. I feel fear in my gut.
I am afraid to die. I do not know what lies beyond the barrier of death. I am afraid to release myself to the great unknown.
I am heartbroken and afraid to leave my family. I am still needed!
I have let go of hope for healing, and I hold on to hope for the next life.
I am afraid that my family and loved ones, children and grandchildren will be troubled when I tell them I plan to die using medical aid in dying…
But, in the midst of my fear, I have hope that my family and loved ones, children and grandchildren will understand the choice to end my suffering.
I hope they will be proud of my decision and will understand that MAID is consistent with the love and compassion of Jesus. I have such peace in knowing this is my choice. My family loves me but they cannot feel my suffering, they cannot comprehend my helplessness.
I have hope and assurances that my death will be gentle. I am grateful that I can make this choice, for I am terrified of dying in pain and being helpless.
Jake Meador, the editor-in-chief of Mere Orthodoxy, characterized the prayer as “actually demonic,” noting that he is usually “careful about the use of such language.” A number of fellow commentators and ministers agreed.
The Prayer to Be Offered with Children, written by the same authors of the aforementioned supplication, is meant to help children understand their parents’ decisions to be euthanized.
We know they are hurting. We have seen them cry. We have seen our parent cry and other people cry. It makes us afraid.
We will miss our parent, we will miss their smile, we will miss their stories, and we will miss their fun.
Did you know that mom loved camping, God? She really loved camping.
We do not know where they are going, but we know they will stop hurting. We are glad they will stop hurting.
We are not sure what happens when a person dies. Maybe part of them goes to a better place. Dear God, please take care of our parent when they die. Hug them very close and take care of them after, too.
Far from a fringe movement, casualties from medical assistance in dying now account for 3.3% of the overall death toll in Canada, including a 4.7% rate in Quebec and a 4.8% rate in British Columbia. Contrary to public messaging by organizations promoting assisted suicide, a mere 57.6% of individuals requesting the procedure cited unbearable pain, while 86.3% reported a reduced ability to engage in meaningful activities.