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Canada's Office of Religious Freedom explained as Harper would wish

Karim Jessa
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Joined: Feb 14 2013

There was this article in the Huffington Post: "Where Do Atheists Belong in the Office of Religious Freedom?" Doug Thomas, the author of the article, says "no one has noted the exclusion of Secular Humanist or atheist organizations from whatever consultation that occurred."

Now, to make sure everything's out in the open so there's no risk of misunderstanding, I declare that I'm an atheist. Next, I agree and sympathize with what Thomas is saying. Having said this, let me now say that Harper has willy-nilly outsmarted athiests.

I say willy-nilly because I doubt that Harper has the intelligence to have thought this matter out in the way I've thought it out. It's common knowledge that politicians of Harper's calibre distinctly lack the nuances of language and thought that common people such as myself have so much at their command.

The key is in the words "Office of Religious Freedom." If you were to ask Harper, and if Harper had my thinking capacity, he'd point out that it's religious freedom that's the issue. "Atheists," Harper would say if he knew what atheism means, "are free from religion. So they don't need an office of religious freedom."

This is undoubtedly too esoteric for Harper. By this time he'd probably have tied himself in knots. Someone would have to explain to Harper what his own words mean. He would say: "In Canada’s view, freedom of religion or belief, including the ability to worship in peace and security, is a universal human right."

This, too, would need some explanation, and I would volunteer to explain it to Harper if he'd allow me. I would tell him that the office is for those who need, seek, demand, freedom to worship as they constantly feel threatened by the freedom of atheists from such demands on their intelligence.

This would bring a beam of comprehension to Harper's face. And he'd turn to Doug Thomas and say, "This is what I meant all along." Thomas might turn to me with a withering look. And I'd have to plead that I felt sorry for Harper having to please God and the voters at the same time.


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autoworker
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Joined: Dec 21 2008
I wonder how this federal office would square with Marois' proposed secular charter. Can Harper presume to instuct about religious freedom abroad, while abiding its intolerance at home, without setting a double standard?

Karim Jessa
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Joined: Feb 14 2013

autoworker wrote:
I wonder how this federal office would square with Marois' proposed secular charter. Can Harper presume to instuct about religious freedom abroad, while abiding its intolerance at home, without setting a double standard?

Marois' proposed secular charter brings echoes of Henry Ford's "People can have the Model T in any color - so long as it's black." Marois would say "Quebecers can have secularism as long as it's Catholic." This, again, is merely an echo of Jean Charest's "Catholic secularism."

But it will be interesting, as you suggest, to see how Harper will react to this. It may well be that the Office of Religious Freedom IS Harper's reaction to Marois' secular charter.

Well, if Harper runs out of ideas, or rather, if Harper feels hampered by the lack of ideas, we shall be more than glad to feed him watered down, pre-digested ideas.


lagatta
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Joined: Apr 17 2002

Well, it is up to us in Québec to point out the hypocrisies - there IS a real commitment to secularism among many people here, and I don't mean those who want to keep the crucifix in the National Assembly for "historic" reasons, among a critical mass of "lapsed Catholics" who want nothing to do with the Church. 

However, you are right that we are "culturally" Catholic, just as our secular-progressive comrades in Tunisia say, are "Muslim secularists", simply in terms of cultural background. And obviously the same applies to people of different religious-cultural backgrounds here  - I'm thinking first and foremost of Jewish secularists or secular Judaism, as there is a long history of that here, with non-religious institutions promoting Jewish culture and the Yiddish language and literature (among people of Ashkenazi origin). 

A major example of what blinders Catholicism might impose is what holidays to celebrate, even without Mass or belief. In particular the Christmas - New Year's period known here as "les Fêtes". 

Like la Fête nationale, it is a Solstice celebration and much older than Christianity (to say nothing of modern confessional divisions within that faith) but I'm sure there are crypto-religious trapplings we don't even recognise. 

That said, there is nothing agressive as the "muscular Christianity" the Harpoids are displaying. That crap is at once a flag for the "War of Civilisations" and a dog whistle to fundie Reformers who feel neglected by the HarperCons. 


Karim Jessa
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Joined: Feb 14 2013

lagatta wrote:

That said, there is nothing agressive as the "muscular Christianity" the Harpoids are displaying. That crap is at once a flag for the "War of Civilisations" and a dog whistle to fundie Reformers who feel neglected by the HarperCons. 

This is exactly it. This is nothing but an invitation to renewed religion wars. If Harper intends to go out preaching to the rest of the world, it will only lead to more conflicts. The best way to go about promoting religious freedom and secularism is to separate the topic of religion entirely from politics.

For once and for all the state must separate itself from religion. "There's no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation," said Trudeau. I would add, there's no place for the state in the churches of the nation.


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