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April 28th, 2009:

Back to the Citizen – one more chance.

This past weekend, a young guy came to my door selling introductory subscriptions to the Ottawa Citizen. It was a good deal and I’m not committed for more than a few months at a rate of a few bucks per week.  So, I said yes to give it another chance.

I did previously have a subscription and kept it for several years till one day I decided that the rag wasn’t good enough to line my green compost bin!

And I wonder how long it will take me to reach this same decision. Every now and again, I am reminded why, a couple of years back, I cancelled my subscription to the Ottawa Citizen.

At the time, I was angry at and tired of the editorial board’s über-Christian, David Warren and his constant rantings about his born-again-ness and how Christians were fighting along the side of Dubya for morality, the free market and the American way… all being interchangeable in the mind of “Father” Warren.
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It’s not that I mind a good theological debate. My views on the subject are pretty well-defined and have been honed over the years. I grew up in a decidedly non-Christian household that to a large degree shaped how I think today. Later in my teens, I performed a thorough and critical examination of the world’s major religions to see if I had missed something and that perhaps I could find a path that would enhance and complete my life experience.
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Nope – what I found was a good basis upon which to launch many arguments against religiosity and for secularism. And I remain of the same mind to this day.

It’s also not that I think that having a system of religious beliefs is a bad thing at all. Indeed, if it gets you though life and it’s many pitfalls, by all means – believe! But don’t impose your system on me or my kids. And DEFINITELY do not make me subsidise religious institutions… although taxpayers most sickeningly do so. Witness the tax-free status of churches and the utterly wasteful duplication in Ontario’s Catholic / secular school boards!
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Nevertheless, a system of spiritual beliefs works for some. I am reminded of my favourite episode of the West Wing where President Bartlett, after his lifelong assistant and confidante is killed in a car accident, stands in a church wailing in Latin against the absurdity of the death and how a righteous and kind god could ever allow such a tragedy. In the end, though, he finds strength in his beliefs and this helps him through the loss.
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However, I digress.

My point is this: The Ottawa Typo-Master is a private enterprise that is free to write as they wish within certain parameters of decency and acceptable behaviour. But they go overboard when opening and unashamedly advance their evangelical Christian beliefs in the guise of “reporting”.  Their flagrant support for the Conservative Reform party is one issue – after all, they are not the only rag to do this – but issues of spirituality and the touting of one weltanschunng over another is completely out of order in our diverse, and yes, highly secular country.  The other side of an issue should always be addressed by a major Canadian newspaper in the name of balanced reporting and addressed not just as an afterthought but in a thorough and fair manner. There are atheists, humanist and agnostics in their readership who couldn’t care less about the Pope’s views on abortions.

Truth be told, I have been buying the Saturday paper for the New York Times crossword – cheaper than buying the New York Times.

So we’ll go with this for a while and see how fast it takes me to tire of the evangelising!

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