Volume 91, Issue 81

Wednesday, March 4, 1998



Our Canada includes atheists

Re: Religious beliefs

To the Editor:
This is the message that Canadians For Intellectual Freedom, an ad hoc group of humanists, atheists and freethinkers, will be sending to Ottawa by way of a petition requesting that the inflammatory and prejudicial phrase: "Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God..." (that ironically introduces our Charter of Rights and Freedoms) be removed and be replaced with "principles that recognize the supremacy of intellectual freedom." The petition also requests that Section 2(a) of the Fundamental Freedoms be changed from "freedom of conscience and religion" to read: "freedom of conscience, and both freedom of and freedom from religion."

How did such a discriminatory and inclusive motto get into our supreme law in the first place? How did the Beaudoin-Dobbie committee slip that gem of sectarianism into our Constitution Document in 1962 with the acquiescence of all, except a few dedicated secularists? Because thousands of Canadians with no religious belief did nothing and, clearly, those committed to an agenda will always prevail over the indifferent. When it came time to "stand on guard for Thee," most Canadians didn't, leaving the fate of their very basic freedoms to a bunch of political back-room horse traders and zealots.

Now Canadian atheists must invoke 'God' when singing the National Anthem, are arbitrarily forced to support churches and religious schools through taxation, have the Bible thrust at them in courtrooms as a matter of course and accept that virtually all state-supported charities or self-help programs are God-based. But the worst is that Canadians must hide their atheism in their communities and in the market place for fear of being ostracized or penalized. Constitutionally, atheists are sitting at the back of the bus.

Although CIF endorses no political party, it is delighted that MP Svend Robinson, a man with an undisputed reputation for commitment, has agreed to present the petition to the House of Commons, hopefully in the autumn session. It is the hope of the CIF that fair-minded Canadians of every stripe, theists and atheists alike, will back this effort to ensure that Canada's fundamental characteristics will be that of mutual tolerance and equality.

Ray Blessin
Canadians For Intellectual Freedom

To Contact The Opinions Department: gazoped@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998