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Office of Religious Freedom

Questions about the new Office of Religious Freedom

Let’s put aside for a moment that IMHO, this is an enormous waste of money in an effort by the Harperites to appease religious groups of all stripes, I have a few direct questions.

  1. What about atheists? Will the Office monitors rights violations of non-believers? Atheists live in fear in many Islamic countries. Will they be given the same attention as the persecuted Christians in those parts of the world?

  2. Will this increased scrutiny on religious freedom take away attention from other rights abuses around the world and here in Canada? Will religious freedom trump women’s rights? How about the rights of children and the enlistment of young kids into militias – are these violations OK if the militia is religion-based?
  3. Will the religious right set the agenda of this Office? Judging by the lineup of support by prominent members of these groups, this may indeed be the case.

A key part of the ambassador’s job should be to help formulate immigration policy, argued Don Hutchinson, vice-president and legal counsel for the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada.

“It’s very important for us as a nation to have an understanding of religion and the communities where we are establishing relationships [in order] to accept refugees and other immigrants,” explained Mr. Hutchinson, who advised the government on the creation of an office of religious freedom within the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

4.   Finally, is protection of religious freedom the new cornerstone of Canada’s foreign policy? Not democracy-building? What happened to that?



Separation of church and state- are we not still secular in Canada?

I don’t think I have been more angry with this government than I am right now with the announcement that the Harperites, if re-elected, would establish an “Office of Religious Freedom”.

Now please, don’t launch barbs accusing me of being intolerant – because I am not. I am, however, a humanist and do not believe in the existence of any supreme deity. The whole notion is and always has been ludicrous to me. BUT, I have no problem with those who do believe in “something” – as long as it does not interfere with me. Whatever gets you through the night, and all that.

YET, as an atheist I am sickened by the notion that my government and my tax dollars would go toward the protection of something I find ridiculous, obscene, oppressive and damaging.

Government does NOT have ANY legitimate role in the religious affairs of any individual. Anytime. Anywhere! Let alone the funneling of public dollars to a non-secular goal.

This alone is almost enough to make me abandon my non-partisanship and go down to David McGuinty’s office and sign up to do some door to door work!

Friends. Imagine what this government will do if given a majority! I would not discount the following. Seriously.

It is the thin edge of the wedge.

This is weird. And this is to where the NeoCons want to lead us.

State Constitution, Article 19 Section 1:

No person who denies the being of a God shall hold any office in the civil departments of this State, nor be competent to testify as a witness in any court.

Declaration of Rights:
Article 36
“That as it is the duty of every man to worship God in such manner as he thinks most acceptable to Him, all persons are equally entitled to protection in their religious liberty; wherefore, no person ought by any law to be molested in his person or estate, on account of his religious persuasion, or profession, or for his religious practice, unless, under the color of religion, he shall disturb the good order, peace or safety of the State, or shall infringe the laws of morality, or injure others in their natural, civil or religious rights; nor ought any person to be compelled to frequent, or maintain, or contribute, unless on contract, to maintain, any place of worship, or any ministry; nor shall any person, otherwise competent, be deemed incompetent as a witness, or juror, on account of his religious belief; provided, he believes in the existence of God, and that under His dispensation such person will be held morally accountable for his acts, and be rewarded or punished therefore either in this world or in the world to come.”

Article 37
“That no religious test ought ever to be required as a qualification for any office of profit or trust in this State, other than a declaration of belief in the existence of God;”

State Constitution, Article 3
“Any every denomination of Christians, demeaning themselves peaceably, and as good subjects of the commonwealth, shall be equally under the protection of the law: and no subordination of any one sect or denomination to another shall ever be established by law.”
Comment: Apparently non-Christians are not “equally under the protection of the law”.

Note: this part of the Massachusetts’ State Constitution was amended. Here is Article XI of the Articles of Amendment:
“Article XI. Instead of the third article of the bill of rights, the following modification and amendment thereof is substituted.
As the public worship of God and instructions in piety, religion and morality, promote the happiness and prosperity of a people and the security of a republican government; — therefore, the several religious societies of this commonwealth, whether corporate or unincorporate, at any meeting legally warned and holden for that purpose, shall ever have the right to elect their pastors or religious teachers, to contract with them for their support, to raise money for erecting and repairing houses for public worship, for the maintenance of religious instruction, and for the payment of necessary expenses: and all persons belonging to any religious society shall be taken and held to be members, until they shall file with the clerk of such society, a written notice, declaring the dissolution of their membership, and thenceforth shall not be liable for any grant or contract which may be thereafter made, or entered into by such society: — and all religious sects and denominations, demeaning themselves peaceably, and as good citizens of the commonwealth, shall be equally under the protection of the law; and no subordination of any one sect or denomination to another shall ever be established by law.” [See Amendments, Arts. XLVI and XLVIII, The Initiative, section 2, and The Referendum, section 2].”

State Constitution. Article 14 (“General Provisions”), Section 265
“No person who denies the existence of a Supreme Being shall hold any office in this state.”

North Carolina
State Constitution, Article 6 Section 8
“Disqualifications of office. The following persons shall be disqualified for office: First, any person who shall deny the being of Almighty God.”

South Carolina
State Constitution, Article VI
Section 2:
“No person who denies the existence of the Supreme Being shall hold any office under this Constitution.”
Section 5: The oath of office ends in,
“So help me God.”

State Constitution, Article 9 Section 2
“No person who denies the being of God, or a future state of rewards and punishments, shall hold any office in the civil department of this state.”

State Constitution, Article 1 Section 4
“No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office, or public trust, in this State; nor shall any one be excluded from holding office on account of his religious sentiments, provided he acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being.”