Causes

QSHA Letter to M Drainville,

Quinte Secular Humanist Association
c/o 553 Hinch Road, Newburgh, Ontario, Canada. K0K 2S0
________________________________________
Bernard Drainville
Minister Responsible for Democratic Institutions and Active Citizenship
875, Grande Allée Est
5e étage, Bureau H5.725
Québec (Quebec) G1R 4Y8

RE: Quebec Charter of Values, January 2014
Cher, Dear M. Drainville:
The Quinte Secular Humanists Association reaffirms its belief in the separation of Church and State and supports the intent of Bill 60. Our Association has agreed the following statement be publicly broadcast as a clear and succinct position on some of the components of your legislation.

“Public bodies must, in the pursuit of their mission, remain neutral in religious matters and reflect the secular nature of the State. Accordingly, obligations are set out for personnel members of public bodies in the exercise of their functions, including a duty to remain neutral and exercise reserve in religious matters by, among other things, complying with the restriction on wearing religious objects that overtly indicate a religious affiliation.

As well, personnel members of a public body must exercise their functions with their face uncovered, and persons to whom they provide services must also have their face uncovered when receiving such services.”
As Secular Humanists our position on citizen rights extends to a neutrality that allows “humans to respect humans” without governmental prejudice.

Our Association further agrees that a letter stating this support should be sent to Bernard Drainville, Quebec Minister responsible for Democratic Institutions and Active Citizenship with a copy to Humanist Canada and other Provincial Humanist bodies in Canada.

Thank you for launching this “key note conversation” in Quebec and Canada’s evolution to a modern and inclusive society.

Respectfully:

Representing the Quinte Secular Humanist Association
Eric Thomas
President
QSHA

Letter to M Drainville from Secular Ontario

Secular Ontario
PO Box 8733 Station T Ottawa Ontario K1G 3J1
613 738 7720 613 738 1462
religionfree@secularontario.ca http://www.secularontario.ca

Bernard Drainville
Minister Responsible for Democratic Institutions and Active Citizenship
875, Grande Allée Est
5e étage, Bureau H5.725
Québec (Quebec) G1R 4Y8

RE: Quebec Charter of Values, January 2014

Cher, Dear M. Drainville:
We are writing to chronicle and register our support.
The recent Annual General Meeting of Secular Ontario considered the Charter as a “key note” subject on our agenda.

Commentary from our discussion includes:
The identification and use of “symbols” relative to only chosen religions and their specific proselytizing is important to the majority of Canadians, be they other religions or Secularists. The use of Religious symbols within governments is a vestige of history, a relic worthy of culture but not of a secular Canada. Our Federal Charter of Rights states that we have a freedom “of conscience and religion”. We support your intent to entrench the spirit of our National Charter in Provincial Legislation that represents this core tenet for the majority of Quebecers.

We have supported the citizens of Saguenay Quebec in the challenge of their Municipal Council who insist on reciting the Christian “Lord’s Prayer” thereby ignoring a broad spectrum of your citizen’s freedom “of conscience and religion”. We are ready to file an “intervener application” with the Supreme Court of Canada as the Quebec initiated litigation is to be adjudicated by that court as announced this past week. We consider The Quebec Charter of Values to be of similar impact.

A visual representation of religious symbols is marketing. A secular democracy recognizes the subliminal nature of advertising. We support the position that the use of symbols in Provincial venues is discriminatory to those excluded and might be defined as oppressive. Further, permitting prescribed attire such as the burka, cloaks, head-ware and other obviously religious symbols in Provincial institutions positions the government as supporting a specific dogmatic endeavor.

We consider the Quebec Charter of Values to be more inclusive than a tolerance that requires an arbitrary judgment of which symbols are appropriate for its citizens. Dictating which symbols represent our societal identity is fraught with political decisions impacted by lobbying and histrionics. A secular approach is respectful to the general population and specifically to a Canadian “freedom of religion”. We lose no historic value in evolving but enrich our future with logical change.

We hope that your initiative extends the Quebec perspective to all Canadian society. (Negative press may be based on envy of the leadership position and brave nature of the Charter.) Our national strength is based on diversity and inclusion. We are convinced that the Quebec Charter of Values helps manage a difficult juxtaposition.

Are there other provinces looking to Quebec for a leadership role? This may not have been the intent of the Charter, but it would certainly be a laudable outcome.

We do have a reservation regarding the fairness of implementation on tenured employees. Our support is unanimous but for a single dissenting vote. Our reticence relates to the issue of a person losing their employment as a result of new legislation. Is that discrimination or “persecution”? Our forum is one of secular “considered” thought and as such we ask for your clarification on this point.
Secular Ontario plans to publicize our support of the Quebec Charter of Values through our network of secular associates and associations as well as in the public sphere. By forwarding a copy of this document to assorted media outlets our fervent desire is to foster conversation focused on respect in a secular Canadian manner.

Congratulations on your bravery and leadership! We stand ready to support your efforts!

Respectfully:

Eric Thomas for
Sheila Ayala/President of Secular Ontario
Henry Beissel, Distinguished Emeritus Professor, Concordia University, Montreal

A Discussion

Causes to Help Support a Secular Society and Human Rights

The QSHA considers a secular society and human rights to be a critical part of a properly functioning society. The term secular as it is used here means that society and government cannot impose on religion, and religion cannot impose on society and government. The modification to this rule is that religions must obey criminal law, and if a religious institution is supported by taxes it must obey all human rights.

Global environment change is an extremely important problem, so we will support causes related to environment change along with our support for a secular society and human rights.

Our aim is to oppose intolerant religious groups that try to ignore the secular society concept or try to suppress human rights. We are most interested in the situation in Canada, followed by the situation in the US, other developed countries, and finally some significant problems in the rest of the world.

We choose causes that our effort has some chance of helping move forward. We advertise these causes, advertise the groups that spearhead these causes, and ask others to support the groups. We will work with most groups or organizations on causes of mutual interest even if those organizations are not for other causes of interest to us.

Background

The concept of the universal application of a secular society and human rights is very new in human history. Many forces are against this direction, one of the strongest forces being traditional and fundamentalist organized religion.

Several thousand Christian religions exist in Canada and the US. They range from conservative to progressive. The two largest religions, the Roman Catholics Church and the Southern Baptist Convention are conservative and reactionary with the more conservative being the Southern Baptist Convention. When we discuss a cause, the positions of these two religions will also be described.

The world of Islam is also large, and with the Middle East waking up, the more conservative forces of Islam have become significant. As with Christianity, there are many different Muslim religions. However, because of our lack of detail understanding, Islam will be referred to as conservative and liberal Islam when a variety of stands on a subject are found in different Muslim religions.

There are several causes that might be supported – the next article outlines our thinking on the first one.

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