The primacy of secularism cannot be overlooked nor should it be.
One can gather from the Sound Off section that there are still religiously minded citizens that believe fear mongering and manipulation are adequate tools to maintain their continuum of belief in their dogma. An April 29 Sound Off attempted to scare less radical members of faith into believing Canada was progressing from a Christian state into a Pagan one.
Firstly, Canada is not nor ever will be a Christian state, nor does it sponsor pagan beliefs.
Secularism provides the government with the separation of church and state, as best noted from Thomas Jefferson. The preamble of Canada’s constitution makes mention of God but its existence in preamble makes it irrelevant in court and nothing more than lip service as goes for the mention of a “Creator” in the U.S. constitution.
Canada’s right to freedom of conscience in Section 2 provides citizens the freedom not to be proselytized, harassed or coerced into believing something they do not believe. (This is why public schools are not endorsing of prayer anymore).
Democracy as an ideal is to be inclusive, just and liberating. Religion conversely is a force of division as it reveres its members and condemns all who are not. Religion is totalitarian by nature and cannot nor should not be combined with democracy as to do such would concede the pillars of freedom and liberty.
Religion in civil society should be accepted and tolerated by all, faithful or atheist, but its presence in politics is venomous. One may look no further than apostasy laws, state religions, and the demonizing/alienation of minority groups to see the results of theocracy and democracy intertwined.
Democracy in Canada has many adversities ahead and securing itself as secular, whether by amendment or convention, is paramount. The United States’ Bill of Rights makes clear that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of Religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Much can be learned from this amendment as it makes clear no favouritism shall be made on the basis of faith, but freedom to practice such religion in one’s private life are entrenched as a fundamental right.
Both Canada’s and the U.S.’s constitutions are of human creation and are a testament to humanities progress. If religion is your fancy by all means enjoy it, but do not make it compulsory upon me or anyone else who does not wish to entertain such ideas.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition May 14, 2014