Threatening Freedom to Protect Deities

Threatening Freedom to Protect Deities

We generally believe that in 2014 all acts of religious oppression have been condemned and eradicated from a policy level, however, an article that was recently published in the Law Time suggests that this is not the case.

Canada proudly boasts its multicultural policies on both national and international planes. Never is this more true than when ethnic or religion based crimes take place in the international community. Therefore it is surprising to learn that Canada itself has embedded in the Criminal Code of Canada a law against blasphemy.

In a multicultural community it seems only logical that an open dialogue on religion would be if not encouraged than at least accepted. Practice seems to uphold this belief, the crime of blasphemy has not made its way into Canadian court rooms in almost 100 years. This does not however suggest that it will never be seen again.

This is a very dangerous risk. While the article mentions the fact that the blasphemy law does not have language tying it to a single religion, Canada’s Christian background undoubtedly makes it more likely that those who practice other religions (for instance Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism etc.) are the ones who will be persecuted if this law were to make a reappearance. Then it could easily become a tool of oppression and could silence some of the more vulnerable members of society.

A clear contradiction exists between this blasphemy law and the rights of freedom of speech and freedom of religion. It seems that if the laws against blasphemy were to be enforced practicing any religion openly could put you in a position where you are denying one Idol which can be lead to the rest of your words being interpreted in an unfavourable way.

Historic precedence from Canada and more recent arrests in other countries have been used inappropriately multiple times in the past. Blasphemy by nature relies on people witnessing disparaging remarks. Eye witness testimony is consistently unreliable and remembering verbatim what someone said, especially when taking into account the fact that emotions run high on topics such as religion, proper recollection is even less likely.

In direct contradiction with Canada’s claims of progressive policies is the fact that we are one of the last developed countries to eliminate the crime of Blasphemy from its formal laws, lagging behind both the United Kingdom and even the notoriously slow to change United States of America.

This article was written on November 24, 2014 shockingly, it is not a problem that has been amended, worse it is a story that got very little public recognition. If the public is not aware of potentially oppressive policies then they cannot demand a change and while the government should on its own eliminate these questionable laws, being in a democracy gives the public the right and responsibility to call their government to make a change.

–SEF #200 #uwreligions


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