The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms provides for the freedoms of conscience and religion; as well as the freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression. These freedoms can be limited by parliament but needs to be justified by the Supreme Court of Canada. The US Constitutions first amendment provides for similar freedoms of religion and specifically that the government cannot choose one religion over another. The purpose of these freedoms is to allow different sects or denominations of the various mainstream religions a safe and comfortable environment to practice their respective religions. What I really want is freedom from religion! So the children of the future can grow up without falling prey to religious ideas.
My problem is that none of these freedoms apply to people who are not deluded by religion. Intellectuals, Brights, Non-religious Peoples or Atheists (whichever terminology you prefer) do not have equal rights under the law because they are not part of a religion even though they amount to 1.1 billion people collectively. This is the third largest identifiable group behind Christians and Muslims and ahead of Hindus and Buddhists. Who's responsible for clouding this fact? Why is it that atheists feel like outcasts? Why are many of them in the closet? If you add Buddhists to the secular bandwagon there are slightly more of "us" than Muslims.
"Let my people go"
-- Moses, Exodus 5: 1 (KJV)
I want to be free from religion, I want my neighbors to be free from religion and more importantly I want all children to be free from religion. If an adult wants to violate his "freedom from religion" and become a religious/cult member well that's his/her choice but placing children in Roman Catholic schooling because their parents are infected by the Christian Religious Meme (x-meme) is child abuse. Considering the cloud of doubt over whether Jesus Christ existed and the greater doubt over his alleged divinity and the fact that God does not exist it is immoral to teach children about Baby Jesus and the fabricated Nativity. I have derived this moral from the moral that people should be truthful with each other and that they should share the true knowledge of the universe with each other. People should not be able to refer to the x-meme in court or use it as a defense against crimes they commit. They should not be able to request concessions from their employers or the government because they suffer from the x-meme. We don't allow people infected by HIV to donate blood and we should not allow those infected by x-meme or any god-meme to teach children. We simply cannot trust them to tell the truth. There was a time when we trusted the tobacco companies to market to minors but we no longer give them that liberty. I would like to see it that all paranormal businesses (churches, pyschic parlors, mosques, synagogues, etc) require entrants to be 18 years old. If sexual materials should be kept from minors then certainly religious material should be kept from them too.
It seems like there is an unwillingness by religious people to admit that other humans can accept the fact there is no God. They believe there is something wrong with atheists. Should they be free to believe this? Are people still free to believe in racism?
The experience that prompted me to right this blog entry was my recent visit to a hospital in Ontario Canada for a routine blood test. I had to register with the hospital and in doing so they asked me a handful of questions, one of which was "what is your religion?". My knee-jerk response was "there is no religion". The lady understood that I meant I am not religious. But sadly the computer system they use at the hospital does not have an option for "none" so I was labeled as "NON-D". For those who live in a Christian influenced community you will understand this to mean Non-Denominational Christian. I chose not to say anything because I prefer to be a pleasant person and I know that the person who asks the questions at the hospital is not the person who decided what questions to ask. However upon reflection it is offensive to my intelligence to try and label me and then mislabel me and it is beyond apology for the government to be collecting this information and implying that I should have an answer to "what is your religion?". Immediately after I answered I contemplated the thought that I should have responded "Bright" and then went through the mutually awkward exercise of explaining the term but they would have probably still labeled me NON-D anyways. I checked with a Hindu I know and she was labeled as "PRESB" or Presbyterian. Knowing about Christianity, I came to the idea that maybe the hospital asks your religion because Christians like their "Last Rights" read to them on their death bed. But if that's the case they may read the Last Rights to an Atheist or a Hindu with no regard to their beliefs. If indeed the hospital takes this information so that they can perform services for you after you die then why can't they ask each person what arrangements they want after death and then maybe we would see a service in the name of freedom.
Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God (see the Canadian Constitutions preamble). Where is the room or tolerance for those who do NOT recognize the supremacy of God. When you hear people tell you that Canada is secular that's just political lies. Canada has a Monarch who is God's representative on Earth. In what way does this contribute to this pretend notion that Canada is secular? In the US, atheists are constantly (see Google) having to fight religious symbols and slogans that are constantly being forced, by the majority Christian population, on all citizens whether through religion in public schools or crosses on public grounds. Christian charities get special tax treatment that Atheist charities do not both in Canada and the United States. This allows extremists like Osama bin Laden intellectual material to convince Muslims that Christian Nations are coming to dominate the Islamic world!
The liberal western democracies of the world lose credibility with the Islamic world because from an outsiders perspective it's clear these democracies are Christian based. The type of reasoning that leads to the legitimization of the Pope among world leaders is what has given the Iranian religious leaders all the intellectual capital they need to establish a Muslim based democracy which has a supreme leader (also known as a supreme judge or Supreme Islamic Jurist) who filters all the societies activities through the lens of the Koran and Islamic Sharia Law. How can we criticize them? In what way are we different? Is not our Queen similar to their Supreme Islamic Jurist? Is not their Guardian Council similar to our Senate? You have to swear your allegiance to Mohammed to be involved in the democratic operation of Iran and you have to swear allegiance to Her Majesty the Queen, ruler of the Church of England to be involved in the upper levels of Canadian democracy. Where is the clear difference? Iran has freedom of religion.. anyone born to Christian parents or Jewish parents or Zoroastrian parents can keep practicing their faiths. But Atheists/Non-believers well they get no rights, not even the right to life!
For a truly free society to exist people should be free to have opinions, thoughts and beliefs that are based on evidence and the scientific method. "Truths" that are determined through non-repeatable experiments or experiences like Moses talking to God through a burning bush or Mohammed discovering God up on the mountain or the infamous non-discovery of cold fusion are not real truths and we should not respect them no matter how taboo that may be.
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