Preacher John’s Worldwide

Michael
Michael Johansen
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Reason tells me there is no God — that, in­deed, one would be irrelevant. I arrived at that conclusion through ob­serving that a natural universe, such as the one we inhabit, is quite capable of evolving into and out of existence all by itself. Intelligent intervention is simply unnecessary.

Now, having said that, how much protection can I expect from the future Office of Religious Freedom? None at all, perhaps. To broaden the question, how much protection will this office give to anyone who’s suffering for beliefs the current federal government doesn’t share?

By making Canada the champion of religious freedom around the world, our devout 39 per cent prime minister is showing his chosen ones the path he has laid out for the whole country.

By ensconcing the holy office in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he’s giving his favourite acolyte a global pulpit to spread the Reform­ed-Conservative gospel to all the unenlightened.

There’s nothing wrong with seeking to protect the lives and freedoms of people suffering persecution at the hands of their government, or of their society’s majority religion. Everyone deserves to be free from tyranny and repression, no matter the source.

Unfortunately, for many, religions do seem to spawn more than their fair share of repressive regimes and help has always been difficult to deliver — until now. Now, Preacher John is on the job.

 

American idea

The idea for such an office is not new. The W. Bush administration established one in the United States to achieve the same purpose. It hasn’t been a success. It is not trusted, since it was and still is handicapped by the evangelical Christians who founded it, the kind who like to impose their beliefs on others.

Preacher John has claimed that Canada is not like the United States, which is a good thing. Another good thing is the series of meetings the minister of Religious Affairs — er, sorry, the minister of Foreign Affairs — has been having with spiritual leaders in Canada and abroad; not just Christians, but Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Sikhs and Bahá'í.

If this is how Preacher John will act in un-American ways, then all well and good, but there’s more to it.

The significant difference, Baird has claimed, is that there’s supposed to be no mixing of church and state in the U.S., but he thinks it’s quite acceptable in Canada. Apparently, the current federal government does not recognize the secular nature of Canada’s state.

The Canadian government is now a prayerful government with a sacred mission. Our 39 per cent prime minister says the Word and his apostle will spread it through the Office of Religious Freedom.

This leader’s Word, while perhaps not as severe as some Words, is yet strict and stern.

But it’s also a magnanimous Word. According to Baird’s sermon to the United Nations, the government is prepared to protect Jews from Muslims in the Middle East, Christians from atheists in China and from Muslims in Iran, Iraq and Egypt, and even Muslims from atheists in Burma and from themselves in a number of other countries.

 

Not protected

However, he made no mention of protecting Muslims from Jews in Palestine, or from Christians in northern Europe or atheists from anyone anywhere.

Atheism, in fact, only seems to make an appearance in Canada’s divine foreign policy as an aggressor belief. Preacher John supports the right to believe, but maybe not the right to not believe.

Perhaps, like a certain high-placed Catholic cleric, the 39 per cent prime minister and his acolyte consider non-believers to be “not fully human” and so not deserving of protection, no matter how much they need it.

Atheists in many countries are forced to hide their opinions for fear of assault, imprisonment and even execution by governments and religions that find a reasoned denial of God to be abhorrent and dangerous.

Maybe Canada should set up an Office of Secular Freedom next.

Whether Baird and the 39 per cent prime minister actually consider atheists to be subhuman is for them to say, but it’s only one of many questions they should answer about their new foreign policy. The first is: what’s more important, the freedom or the religion?

 

Michael Johansen is a writer living in Labrador.

Organizations: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Office of Religious Freedom.This, United Nations Office of Secular Freedom

Geographic location: Canada, United States, Middle East China Iran Iraq Egypt Burma Palestine Northern Europe Labrador

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  • Herb Morrison
    October 08, 2011 - 10:50

    Speaking from the point of view of a professing and confessing Christian, in accordance with Jesus’ teaching, whether or not a person chooses to believe that God is who God claims to be and Jesus is who Jesus claims to be, is a matter of choice. Consequently, if anyone chooses to be an Atheist, that is their privilege. Atheists should no be victims of discrimination because they don’t believe in God or Jesus. In return, I expect Atheists would respect to my personal choice to embrace and to practice my Christian beliefs. First and foremost, my relationship with God is a personal matter. I can readily emphasize with anyone who has a problem with the present crop of fundamentalist pulpit- pounders, who attempt to infringe on a persons’ right to be an Atheist if they so desire. In the same vein, I sympathize with non-Christians, who believe in the same God I do but feel called to express their faith in their own way. Jews, Muslims, and Hindus, should have the freedom to choose to Worship God in accordance with their particular belief system. (Although I am not familiar enough with the Hindu belief system to know if they believe in God.) To address the principle of Mr. Johansen’s column, the rights of Atheists not to believe in God should be protected with the same ferocity as a person’s right to believe in God