Gordon Dirks, the recipient of anti-Christian bigotry?
Arguably, values and actions are not often easily teased apart: actions, the tangible product of one’s values, do not deviate far from deeply held convictions. For example, the lifelong Muslim is unlikely to fry up some bacon for a BLT and the born-again Christian is unlikely to devote their Saturday evening to the Ouija board.
This is perhaps what is worrying some Albertans concerned about the new minister of education, Gordon Dirks. Journalist Licia Corbella has labeled the opposition Gordon Dirks has experienced through social media “open, anti-Christian bigotry”. Are these concerns justified or are these merciless bigots taking a stab at the new minister based on his personal faith?
Dirks, armed with both experience as a Calgary Board of Education trustee and post-secondary education from Saskatchewan, is distrusted due to having spent some time doing administrative work for a couple of Bible colleges. One has questioned if Dirks could meet “the goals of our secular public school system”. Another has said, “This is not very good. Bible college admin in the past”.
These concerns are perhaps legitimate: if a Muslim had been selected, no doubt he would receive a deluge of criticism. Religious beliefs and values have the potential to steer one’s actions and hence, leach into one’s career and influence professional decisions.
This point deserves emphasis: religious beliefs have the potential to influence professional decisions. Ideally, all of us will set aside our personal convictions, whether rooted in religious values or otherwise, when we step into our professional shoes.
Two hazards arise if the ability to obtain a professional position were hampered by beliefs or practices outside professional time. The workplace may become an arena of distrust and secrecy. In place of open honesty, employees would have an incentive to keep quiet about their beliefs to ensure their daily bread. Additionally, denying a job to a potential employee on the basis of what they do, practice, or believe outside of work is straight up discrimination.
Having addressed these hazards, it is worthwhile to return to the point made earlier: beliefs, rooted in religion or otherwise, do have the potential to influence work related decisions. To circumvent this, accountability is crucial.
Should Gordon Dirks put forward changes that discriminate on the basis of his personal religious convictions, outrage is justified. Until then, Albertans may not be justified in their objection purely on the basis of the new minister’s religious beliefs.