Religion and Politics
In multicultural nations it is important to have clear guidelines about religious rights and freedoms. Canada’s policy on these rights has always been religious rights should be provided to persons as long as they do not infringe on any other existing right. The Globe article found at: http://bit.ly/1ePcCnl goes on to show case that disputes exists between policy and religion.
Specifically the dispute is about the question: whether gender rights should trump religious freedoms? In my opinion religious rights should not trump gender rights but the individual should have the freedom to choose which rights to give up. The Quebec Charter of Values (a recent addition to The Charter says that public workers are not allowed to don overt religious symbols such as the Hijab) imposes upon the population the choice of gender rights outweighing religious freedom rights. This is in fact a restriction of rights, effectively taking away the right to choose which right an individual holds in higher esteem. The Quebec Charter of Values has taken away certain religious freedoms in the name of equality. This is oxymoronic in its very essence.
When an individual decides whether or not to be a practicing member of their family’s or any selected religion, they consider their personal ideals and values and apply them. Whether that leads to an individual practicing or not practicing as a member of a religion, it is certain that this is a very personal choice. The state has historically had a very influential role in this decision making process to the point where being a member of a nation required individuals to be part of a certain religion. The western states of contemporary society separate themselves from their eastern counterparts on many fronts, freedom of religion being a major one. That is, the separation of religion and state.
This legislation is a particularly dangerous one, straying from very deep-set conventions of western states. The freedom to choose which rights an individual chooses to give up in the name of their religion should be the choice of that lone individual. I would agree that that if the religious symbol is being imposed upon the citizen, that they should have a right to justice. There is a difference between that and an individual’s free choice to wear their religious garments or symbols.
In conclusion, The Quebec Charter of Values is being used to reduce religious freedom, while being sold as increased civil liberties. Religions of eastern faiths are being unfairly targeted; Sikhism and Islam are examples of religions that require headwear (turbans for Sikhs, and Hijabs for Muslim women). Christians would still be allowed to wear reasonably sized crosses, Sikhs and Muslims would loose the ability to wear their religious garments. The state shouldn’t be able to decide which religion has more “reasonable” garments. This is an un-western, anti-freedom, and discriminatory legislation. The controversy it has created is definitely warranted, and The Supreme Court of Canada should overturn this as soon as a valid moment arrives.