Bulletins :: Open response to a Catholic Register opinion article
Today our organization's President responded publicly to an opinion article published on April 30, 2019 by the Catholic Register - Canada's Catholic News Source - entitled "Religious liberty is fading fast." The article, which was authored by Charles Lewis, is available here: https://www.catholicregister.org/opinion/columnists/item/29413-charles-lewis-religious-liberty-is-fading-fast
Religious liberty is not diminishing in Canada. For starters, our national Charter of Rights and Freedoms (section 2) protects, as fundamental, everyones' individual liberties, including freedom of religion, conscience, thought, expression, opinion, association, etc., insofar as the rights and freedoms of others are also not unreasonably impeded. (Sometimes it's necessary to draw on our courts to resolve conflicts in these areas, and they normally consider our national Charter in so doing, just as they did recently with Trinity Western University's controversial covenant.)
Canada is not imposing "state atheism," as demonstrated by the fact that freedom of religion remains protected as a fundamental right under our national Charter. I also see no indication of this changing (along with other protected rights and freedoms), and I'm not convinced that there's any serious threat at present to redact freedom of religion.
The recent decline in Catholicism may have more to do with how poorly the Catholic Church has been responding to their recent child abuse scandals (e.g., the Australian case of Cardinal George Pell, in particular, recently received significant public attention and media coverage), and, for many past Church attendees, discontinuing their association could very well be a reflection of their disappointment with the Church (which is partly known for promoting the position that all morals come from their god).
Conflating racism with religious discrimination is both inaccurate and unnecessary, for, in addition to being two separate issues, our national Charter (section 15) already proscribes against both of these [and other] forms of discrimination. While religion is a personal choice in the psychological and intellectual realms, race is akin to being a genetic characteristic that is also difficult to find clear distinction in among today's vastly diverse mixed-race Canadian population (it seems to me that racism is gradually dissipating, albeit not rapidly enough in my opinion).
Bodily autonomy is also a fundamental right according to our Charter protections regarding individual liberties, and also according to the United Nations International Declaration of Human Rights (of which Canada is one of many signatories). This means that every pregnant person has the right to undertake an abortion without being required to justify their decision to anyone. It also means that euthanasia is an option, particularly for those suffering from a terminal illness that includes the gradual onset of higher levels of pain.
In the case of Trinity Western University (TWU), their covenant (which is much more than merely a "morality clause") was in conflict with our national Charter, and so our Supreme Court of Canada did resolve the matter by making the correct decision to favour our fundamental rights of freedoms and consequently ensuring equal access to the justice system. TWU is still operating and still offering law courses, but now without the discriminatory factor, which serves as a reasonable example of our Canadian rights and freedoms being protected rather than diminishing.
Sincerely, and with warmest regards,
President of the Canadian atheists
- Original opinion article: https://www.catholicregister.org/opinion/columnists/item/29413-charles-lewis-religious-liberty-is-fading-fast
- Canadian atheists: https://www.canadianatheists.ca/
- This bulletin: https://www.canadianatheists.ca/bulletins/2019may07.pl