Lake Erie Conservative

thoughtful discussion(s) about issue(s)

… Have the Quebeckers gone Bananas ?!?!? [State Secularism Bill] …

Posted by paulfromwloh on Thursday,September 12th,2013

.. I would say so .

.. Canada and its society are notorious for being politically correct . Their so – called “Human Rights ” law and the Human Rights Commission have become infamous for enforcing a level of political correctness that we here in the U.S. would never tolerate . Yet , the PQ (parti Quebecois) is going to push ahead with this dreadful bill .

.. First , the minority government must stand for election . If the PQ wins a majority , then you can expect the new PQ government to go for the bill , no matter what . It will then become the Canadian government ‘ s call (from Ottawa) . The federal Charter of Rights and Freedoms most certainly does not allow this level of religious discrimination . However , the provincial government may bounce off of that , and still do it anyway …

… from the National Post …

The Christian exemptions to Quebec’s proposed secular Charter of Values — which would allow the crucifix to remain in the National Assembly, the cross to remain on Mount Royal, and Christmas trees to remain in provincial government buildings — are based on the controversial idea that some religious symbols have become purely secular.

Just as the Christmas tree grew from pagan origins to signify the birth of Jesus, the theory goes that now, in modern post-Catholic Quebec, it merely reflects the secular culture of holidays and gift-giving — “part of Quebec culture,” as the minister responsible for the Charter, Bernard Drainville, said Tuesday.

“We will recognize elements of our heritage that bear witness to our history,” he said of the tree, and the cross.

These exemptions are “certainly going to strike people as hypocritical,” said Paul Bramadat, director of the Centre for Studies in Religion and Society at the University of Victoria.

“If the leaders of Quebec society are seeking to exclude from the public and political arenas all historically deep references to religious identity, then it stands to reason that the crucifix would need to be removed, too, not to mention the cross on the top of Mt. Royal,” he said.

Mark Mercer, professor of philosophy at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, said he is “appalled” by the proposals, and objects to the idea of defining symbols merely by their origins, rather than their current significance to the people who use them.

“What I object to is just taking the origin of things as necessarily part of them to the people who use those things today. I think that’s just misguided,” he said. He cited a criminal cross-burning case in Nova Scotia, which recalled the explicitly racist symbolism of Ku Klux Klan, but raised the vexing question of whether burning a cross, by itself, expresses racial hatred, simply because of the symbol’s history.

Francis Vachon for National Post/Files

Francis Vachon for National Post/FilesA Christmas tree in front of Quebec’s National Assembly in 2008. A controversy erupted when the government referred to it as a “celebration tree.”

“There’s the origin, and it’s always tainted by its origin,” he said, but it is wrong to think a symbol always “retains the aspect of their origin.”

Christmas trees and crucifixes raise similar problems. “The province itself, as a legitimate, authoritative political entity, can do things like declare that, for the province, [a symbol] does not have religious significance… We accept that sort of thing all over the place. Remember, [in hockey] a goal isn’t scored just when a puck crosses the line. The goal isn’t scored until the referee raises his arm. Is it a goal? Depends what the referee says. Same thing. Is the Christmas tree a religious symbol?” he said, and quoted a baseball umpire to the effect that, “It ain’t nothing until I call it.”

The issue is already familiar to the courts. Justin Trottier, a prominent secularist activist with the Centre for Inquiry, said that 28 city councils in Ontario still begin sessions with the Lord’s Prayer, and only three or four have voluntarily complied with a court ruling that this is unconstitutional.

He also said a push was on for a Supreme Court of Canada review of a recent Quebec case, in which a mayor’s use of Christian prayer in Saguenay was judged to not violate the state’s religious neutrality.

Quebec is not the first jurisdiction to face these deep problems of the modern relevance of historical state religion. A landmark case in the United States Supreme Court, for example, divided the judges on the issue of whether a Pittsburgh courthouse could display a nativity scene, a Christmas tree, and a menorah. In the end, despite broad dissent, the tree and the menorah were in, and the nativity was out.

On such a fraught issue as religious faith in the secular state, however, the law offers only limited guidance.

“The discomfort people have with removing the crucifix reflects the deep roots of religion, and its signs and symbols, in the tastes, smells, practices, norms, habits and feelings of many even thoroughly secular people,” Prof. Bramadat said.

“Those staunch secularists who want to leave the crucifix alone because, well, removing it would ‘feel wrong’ and the National Assembly would ‘look wrong,’ might want to think about the emotional effect on Muslims, Jews, Sikhs and observant Christians who are now being asked to stop wearing symbols that are both personally meaningful and indicative of long, complex systems of meaning and purpose.”

… items from Toronto ‘ s Globe and Mail …

[link] — consequences of the proposed charter , except that they forgot one : it applies , evidently , to the private sector , too …

[link] — an editorial of the paper , greatly criticizing the proposal , that it cuts off the province from its heritage and its tradition of religious tolerance …


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