The new office of religious freedom

The Prime Minister names a new ambassador

The Prime Minister has named the government’s first ambassador for religious freedom. Here is the official biography for Andrew Bennett. And here is Mr. Harper’s response this afternoon when asked about whether the office would also concern itself with the freedom of atheists.

This is an office to promote religious toleration and religious diversity. And, in fact, as president Malik himself said, people who choose not to believe, that’s a valid religious and democratic perspective that we all must also accept and promote. We’re not trying to impose, we’re trying to respect peoples’ own religions, their own faith choices. Not impose those faith choices or non-faith choices on others. And so just as it is important that religion be respected in a pluralistic and democratic society by those who don’t share religion, it is likewise expected in a very religious society that those who don’t share faith will be respected as well.

Here is John Baird’s speech last year on the importance of religious freedom.

The New Democrats have responded with congratulations and a couple quibbles.

The Office of Religious Freedoms, as introduced today, represents both a broken Conservative promise and a missed opportunity. Conservatives had repeatedly promised a democratic development agency, but they broke that promise and now they’re moving forward on a much more limited and narrow approach.

That much is reference to the Conservative party’s 2008 platform, which promised a “new, non-partisan democracy promotion agency that will help emerging democracies build democratic institutions and support peaceful democratic change in repressive countries.”




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The new office of religious freedom

  1. Scrap, it , reinstate the long gun registry, come out three million ahead.

  2. Yes, Harper’s so big on the idea of religious freedom he appointed a ………christian.

    • He appointed a Catholic. “Christians” won’t consider this to be any more good news than members of any other religions.

      • Ummm.. Since when have Catholics not been Christians?

        • Evangelicals don’t consider catholics christians. You have to be ‘born again’….personally accept the blah blah blah…to be a ‘real’ christian.

          Same with Mormons and all the rest of them.

          In fact I’m not sure about you either. LOL

          • Evangelicals are just Tea Baggers with a cross.

          • Neither of which we need in Canada.

          • Uh you see, if you believe in religious freedom….you don’t get to chose what belongs in Canada and what doesn’t. If First Nations’ spiritualism belongs so does everything else.

          • Please read more carefully.

            We already HAVE religious freedom in Canada.

            Guaranteed in the Charter.

            The only one violating it is the fed govt.

          • I know it KILLS you to admit it Emily but by denying every other religion except Catholicism to have any sort of representation in Quebec, that provincial government IS violating the Charter guaranteeing religious freedom.

          • Sorry….yer barking mad as usual.

            Quebec is probably the least religious province we have…..but they do have mosques and synogogues and protty churches.

            I’m not the one having a problem with them….you are.

          • Yes, all people with religious or political beliefs that Emily does not approve of should be stripped of their Canadian citizenship and deported. And certainly never admitted to this country in the first place.

          • If you can’t carry on a serious conversation, you really should get another hobby.

          • And Catholics are none too fond of the Protestant denominations either.

          • But now with the opening of this office, all religions are just going to be one be big happy family according to Harper.

          • Of course it won’t be “one big happy family” but there will perhaps be some guidance as to discriminating regarding religious clothing and symbols in government buildings (women in Niqab unable to attend university).

          • What about Sharia law – Harper says we have to respect all religious convictions? Persecution of gays – are we allowing that now? He seemed unable to explain how these competing values can co-exist.

          • It doesn’t really matter what others think….anyone who believes in Christ is a Christian and Catholics most certainly believe in Christ.

          • Yes, it matters. We’ve had religious wars over less.

      • Yes, I’ll admit that surprised me. I thought a Muslim or Hindu or Jew would have made a better statement about religious freedom…..but it surprised me that the ‘christian’ chosen is catholic. The evangelicals won’t like that!

        However apparently it’s been a nightmare to find ANYbody willing to take it on, so maybe Harp let the standards slip. LOL

        • If the appointment of a Catholic “surprised” you Emily, you aren’t thinking politically. With the Quebec Government’s less than welcoming stance toward to all religions “not Catholic”, this appointment makes perfect sense.

          • Obviously you didn’t read the rest of the thread before answering.

          • Of course I read the rest of the thread. I just don’t think you have any idea what you are talking about. Given that the biggest violators of religious freedom exist in a province that is overwhelmingly Catholic, the choice of a Catholic is perfect. Who has more credibility than one of their own?

          • Evangelists don’t think RCs are christian.

            I think they’re all nutz.

            I think you don’t know much about Quebec.

  3. Yes, shut down scientific research and opinion and promote religious freedom, Will they confront China about the religious genocide that is happening in Tibet? Awkward.

    Will this include the Jedi’s as well?

    • He didn’t mention the Wiccans today, obviously an oversite.

  4. Religion needs a voice?

    No one ever has to listen to them, pay thier taxes or their wars!

    How about we build a landing site for aliens, instead!

    • Hard to argue it would be a bigger waste of money.

  5. Well this can’t be good news for all Christians. One can only hope this office views all relioNs as equal and not pander to only to Muslim interests such as being done in Ontario schools. I will reserve judgement on this but highly sceptical and worried.

  6. I think you write up something about Language Freedom. In Quebec.

  7. If the PM says “it is likewise expected in a very religious society that those who don’t share faith will be respected as well,” then why did John Baird say (Sep 2012) that “We don’t see agnosticism or atheism as being in need of defense in the same way persecuted religious minorities are.” ???
    http://www.international.gc.ca/ministers-ministres/baird_religion_sept_2012.aspx?lang=eng&view=d
    Atheists – not Christians – are the most discriminated against in terms of “religious persecution,” and are mobbed, imprisoned and even killed – all in the name of religion. Will the new ORF protect persecuted atheists? I doubt it.

    • Yes, atheists are most at risk….and likely from this ‘religious office’ as well as everything else.

  8. I hope Wells comments on this.
    He was so close to Chapter One, the destruction of Rights and Democracy, now a little hiatus and we have this.
    These Harper guys, they just keep moving along, till there won’t be much left of the Canada the generation formed in the last half of the last century knew.

    • Yes, the sky is falling. You better go hide under your bed.

      • So Bean, you think setting up this office isn’t a waste of tax money? Harper’s shutting down our Coast Guard in Vancouver to save $700,000 but finds money for some feel good but ill thought out project like this.

        • I don’t support the office, I think it’s not necessary. I just don’t think the sky is falling and that Canada as We Know It is Being Destroyed because they’ve created it.

          • Some of us don’t like the direction things are going – no one is forcing you to agree so I don’t know why you have to be so bitchy.

      • Do you think the christians will look there when they come to get me?
        Office of Religious Freedom?? Freedom to do what??

        • Freedom to wear your Niqab to university.

    • Oh come now. With more immigrants coming to the country, we have people who have more difficulties with their religious customs being challenged in different governmental institutions. Certain provinces have denied people the right to wear their ceremonial swords and clothing in the legislature and in provincial buildings. This is the typically Canadian way to deal with these complaints…..compromise with an Ombudsman of sorts. Given that 80% of the population of the Province of Quebec identifies themselves as Catholic and most of the issues thus far with religious discrimination claims have happened in Quebec, it is probably work out fine.

      • This is de facto permission for religion activists such as Crossroads to attack minorities such as gays, same sex marriage advocates, pro choice, feminists, Eliz. Fry Society advocates for prisoners and on and on.
        Under attack from polygamists cult? Don’t fight back.

        • Based on what evidence?

          • Oh, probably histrionic, hyperbolic partisan douchebag websites like rabble.ca and the tyee. And scrupulously objective reporters like Marci MacDonald.

          • Do you really believe that the announcement on the Office of Religious Freedom and The Family Action group campaign re MPs, and the Crossroads grant to take their ideas to Uganda is a coincidence?

            Newspeak: religious freedom means?

          • The Tyee is a ‘douche bag’ website – now that sounds a little histrionic to me. You’re sure you’re not partisan?

      • I am pretty sure they’ve stated their plan is to finger wag other countries, not attempt to bolster legal rights to accommodation here. They already gutted the court challenges program to make sure accommodation is harder to come by.

  9. I remember when “Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!” was just a great line from a funny Monty Python sketch…

  10. I’ll believe this thing is for real only when I see new gazebos going up in Muskoka.

  11. Before everyone becomes mired in their dislike of organized religion, let’s not forget how emphatic we were about the importance of honoring the First Nations’ peoples spiritual beliefs and practices. Surely we aren’t going pretend that this does not also qualify as religion. Respect for everyone’s spirituality…including those who worship cannabis….yes, they exist, is what religious freedom is all about.

    • Sure, but in the case with native spirituality we aren’t going to spend $5 million to wag our fingers at other countries about it.

      • Maybe we won’t be “wagging our fingers” at other countries but at certain provinces that deny religious equality or opening practice religious discrimination.

        • I would wager against that. And I expect I would come out big.

  12. What a hilarious joke !! Who will they be protecting religious minorities from? In almost all cases the perpetrators are other religions. So then they will have to protect the religious freedoms of the the religion that’s doing the discrimination. What a colossal waste of time and money !!!!

    • You should really use more exclamation marks. It would greatly enhance the credibility and persuasiveness of your posts.

  13. Thank goodness the Universal Life Church and all Rastafarians have nothing to fear in enjoining their spiritual needs through sacrament! Ital for all who enjoy Caribbean Kosher!

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