Freedom of Religion? What about Freedom from Religion?
So, Harper has just created the Office of Religious Freedom. I’m still entirely clear what their mandate is, nor am I sure how it differs from other human rights mandates. You can read the government’s statement here.
The office will lead by Andrew Bennett, a – wait for it – white Christian. He will have a staff of four to help him “protect, and advocate on behalf of, religious minorities under threat; oppose religious hatred and intolerance; and promote Canadian values of pluralism and tolerance abroad.”
Tellingly, the office will have nearly double the budget as Kevin Page, the parliamentary budget watchdog, so says the Globe and Mail.
But, what exactly is Bennett going to do? Why do we need an office dedicated to religious rights? And if it is meant to address persecuted minority religious groups around the world, is a white christian the right choice?
And what about persecution committed by religious groups? What about the hate speech against homosexuals and non-believers by groups like the Westboro Baptists and other militant groups in Uganda? Will Bennett stand up for the right not to chose religion?
With all the news about the Catholic Church abusing boys and fundamentalist Muslim patriarchs committing honor killings, maybe we ought to talk about freedom from religion.