Content-type: text/html ~ Stephen's Web ~ The Religion Card

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

Mar 19, 2010

Originally posted on Half an Hour, March 19, 2010.

Responding to James Morton, who argues, "Canada is a nation rooted in faith."

No. Canada WAS a nation rooted in faith. But with 4 in 10 Canadians no longer religious (by your own statistics) we cannot say that faith is any more a foundational value in this country.

What has allowed Canada to remain peaceful and harmonious is that, for the most part, we have managed to keep matters of faith out of the public sphere. We were founded from the very beginning with a potentially divisive Catholic-Protestant split, and in more recent years have seen large influxes of Muslims, Hindus and Jews. And, of course, atheism has risen dramatically in recent years.

The purpose of public policy, at least in this our peaceful and diverse society, is to enable people of many faiths to interact together under a single legal and social framework. This very much means that no particular religion can or should have the means to impose its particular view on society.

This is not to say that people can not or should not live and represent their moral and spiritual values. Nobody has a problem with that, not even the atheists.

Rather, it means that if you advocate "policy x" because your religious views compel you to do so, your advocacy of "policy x" will have to be on the basis of its own merits, not because "Canada was founded based on the principles of religion y". Indeed, people - excepting those of your particular creed - will find such a tactic (in this country, at least) divisive and an attempt to seed racial and religious disharmony.

To advocate otherwise is to emperil the basis on which this country was founded, a basis that enshrines freedom and diversity of race, language, faith and opinion.

Play the religion card with great caution. You may be religious; I don't care. But when you try to cram religion into government, I get very very upset.

Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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