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Secular Societies

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Poll Question: Should public servants be allowed to display religious symbols?
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Captain Vancouver View Drop Down
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    Posted: 06 Jan 2014 at 02:21
The Canadian province of Quebec has proposed legislation that some have characterized as xenophobic, defensive, and racist.

There are others that say this is just a modern, secular society insuring that all feel equal, at least when dealing with those in an official capacity.

In a nutshell, for those that don't as a rule follow events in the frozen north, the province proposes to outlaw anyone involved in direct public service from wearing identifiable religious regalia. A policeman could not go to work with a small star of david on his or her lapel. A clerk issuing a driver's license could not be wearing a turban or a niqab while doing so. A public health inspector wearing a honking big crucifix would run afoul of the proposed laws. Religion, so this concept goes, is something to be left at home. It is a personal belief, and that is fine as far as that goes, but the public, official sphere is something else, something on another level. It is no place for metaphysical ruminations. All should feel equal, and not be subject to, for example, a recent Palestinian emigrant dealing with an official with the star of david on his desk.

You'll notice that I said "honking big" crucifix. That is because the Quebec government has decided that certain long entrenched religions (IE: Christianity) have now transmogrified, and are now part of a broader historical and cultural tradition. It is not so much that they are now taken seriously as religious regalia, at least not as much as in the past, but now they are simply icons of another age, similar to, let's say, Stonehenge- an important national historical site, but  not something associated with current religious practice per se, although some may still think this way. So, modest or long established Christian symbols are- in most contexts- OK. Just don't go over the top.

So what do members around the globe think? Ripe hypocrisy...narrow minded thinking.....an attempt by a multicultural society to preserve rationality and order.....political posturing.....?

Vote, and offer some comments if you feel so moved.

http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/09/10/controversial-quebec-charter-exemptions-based-on-idea-that-some-religious-symbols-have-become-purely-secular/

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/charter-of-quebec-values-would-ban-religious-symbols-for-public-workers-1.1699315

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/duceppe-says-quebec-doctors-and-teachers-can-wear-religious-symbols-but-not-judges-or-police/article15729172/


Edited by Captain Vancouver - 06 Jan 2014 at 02:27
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Lao Tse View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Lao Tse Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Jan 2014 at 05:10
In my opinion, it is no one's business to judge, persecute, or limit a person by religious background. Now, if a public service office limits the permission of having religious symbols, that is morally wrong unless it obstructs any operation and/or service that the office may provide.

An example of it being morally wrong is that if someone has a very small pin with a religious symbol on it and the person is ordered to remove the pin. This is wrong because it is not obstructing operations/services/duties of the person.

An example of the exception is if someone carries a large religious figurine or statue around and thy are ordered to cease. This is the exception because it causes obstruction of the duties of the person.
在財富的害處,而是一件好事永遠不持續。我在和平中仅居住在新的風下。 Wei Jia Hong No harm in wealth, but a good thing doesn't last forever. I live only among peace under
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Harburs Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Jan 2014 at 06:05
As long as it does not cover your face, hide your identity, is not a health hazard, and does not get in your way (duties) then it should be all rights. If it is possible I am against Hijab as well. I want to see beautiful faces of all Muslim and Jewish ladies!Wink

Edited by Harburs - 06 Jan 2014 at 06:08
"Turn yourself not away from three best things: Good Thought, Good Word, and Good Deed" Zoroaster.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Goral Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Jan 2014 at 09:08
Religion or lack of it is a personal choice and should be not displayed in public as it could be offensive to other follow citizen. Especially by public servants. The problem starts when religious tradition becomes part of national culture and custom eg. Christmas tree. Where we should stop?

Edited by Goral - 06 Jan 2014 at 09:14
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Paradigm of Humanity Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Jan 2014 at 07:45
It's definitely against secularism. Secularism shouldn't differentiate between a stick and a cross. By definition, secularism is indifference to religion not hostility.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Captain Vancouver Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Jan 2014 at 18:39
Originally posted by Lao Tse Lao Tse wrote:

In my opinion, it is no one's business to judge, persecute, or limit a person by religious background. Now, if a public service office limits the permission of having religious symbols, that is morally wrong unless it obstructs any operation and/or service that the office may provide.

An example of it being morally wrong is that if someone has a very small pin with a religious symbol on it and the person is ordered to remove the pin. This is wrong because it is not obstructing operations/services/duties of the person.

An example of the exception is if someone carries a large religious figurine or statue around and thy are ordered to cease. This is the exception because it causes obstruction of the duties of the person.


Yes, all true, and yet.....one's mans fodder is an others poison. How to accommodate all, without outraging the few? Religions are human constructs, and therefore carry sociological baggage along with them, in some cases considerable amounts. Judaism means more than just religion in the Middle East, Islam has additional connotations in the west, and Catholicism runs much deeper in Quebec society than simply church on Sunday.

A whiskey drinking atheist may indeed feel he has been judged and/or persecuted by a policeman proclaiming Islam while on the job. Even if this is not so, the suspicion may linger, and may be hard to prove or disprove in some cases, to the detriment of social cohesion.  That same policeman may in turn feel deep concern if the medical staff treating his wife are all wearing the star of david at the hospital. Proclaiming religious belief in a professional setting suggests deep commitment to said belief- and perhaps all that goes with it from an historical context.

Obstruction of operations can, in such cases, be both far ranging, and also subtle.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Captain Vancouver Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Jan 2014 at 18:56
Originally posted by Paradigm of Humanity Paradigm of Humanity wrote:

It's definitely against secularism. Secularism shouldn't differentiate between a stick and a cross. By definition, secularism is indifference to religion not hostility.


Quite so, from a philosophical perspective. But indifference may not be sufficient in protecting minority rights, or in having the type of cosmopolitan, accepting societies many desire. Pragmatism can often demand making difficult political choices. History has shown that in many cases, only assertive legal measures can do the job. For blacks in the US, the Civil War lingered on to the 1960's, and only ended then because of aggressive interventions from the federal government. There was great indifference about, and also inequality between the genders until that equality was, in some countries anyway, enshrined in law. Secularism may not survive without positive public measures.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Paradigm of Humanity Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Jan 2014 at 12:42
You know better of Quebec but I don't think secularism is anyware near in a danger there. All western countries rapidly becoming more and more irreligious aside from surge of neopaganism in recent decades. I hope this proposition doesn't coming in mind for targeting female muslim students. Obviously some far right wing politicians adopted a rhetoric of democracy, human rights and secularism in order to implement their fascist anti-immigrant agenda. Well, nobody in my country says they are againts democracy or human rights, not even hardcore communist parties while dreaming of a so called proletarion dictatorship with single party rule.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Captain Vancouver Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Jan 2014 at 05:14
Originally posted by Paradigm of Humanity Paradigm of Humanity wrote:

You know better of Quebec but I don't think secularism is anyware near in a danger there. All western countries rapidly becoming more and more irreligious aside from surge of neopaganism in recent decades. I hope this proposition doesn't coming in mind for targeting female muslim students. Obviously some far right wing politicians adopted a rhetoric of democracy, human rights and secularism in order to implement their fascist anti-immigrant agenda. Well, nobody in my country says they are againts democracy or human rights, not even hardcore communist parties while dreaming of a so called proletarion dictatorship with single party rule.

In this case, I don't think it is the right wing so much as the ongoing fear of a minority that is in danger of being swamped (by surrounding English speakers, not immigrants per se). An island of 8 million in a sea of 340 million can generate defensiveness. 

There is little doubt there is political motivation at work here, playing to those most fearful of the other -that which is different, and so potentially a threat. This sort of thing is not a high point in human behavior.

That said, it is a delicate balance really, isn't it? How much of a moral, ethical, and legal right does an established society have to regulate how members deport themselves? Obviously it has some, or else we would all come to resemble Somalia, or the Central African Republic. But how much?

A few years back, religion would have been a non-issue. That is, submit to the prevailing one, or suffer various sanction. In today's far more diverse environment, that's not good enough. And so should various notions that people have about faith all be accepted- that is, not just accepted as an individual right, something to be practiced in private, but as a sort of co-symbol of authority. That judge had a cross of Jesus on the wall behind him as he was passing sentence. That policeman was wearing a turban. Do those things affect their actions? Maybe not. 

But a secular society may say that there is a place for notions- even important ones- and a place for those principles that have a legal consensus. I'm playing a bit of a devil's advocate here, because I think the question is a complex one, for which there is no glib answer. But I'm curious what others think.
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