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“In the past decade in Canada there have been several situations that raise the question whether our right to freedom of conscience and religion is everywhere respected,” the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops observed in a recent pastoral letter.
“At times,” the bishops observed, “believers are being legally compelled to exercise their profession without reference to their religious or moral convictions, and even in opposition to them.” They pointed to the dangers of “radical secularism” and an “aggressive” relativism that opposes all claims of truth.
The Canadian bishops also highlighted the anti-religious nature of some “anti-discrimination” laws, as well as the tendency of advocacy groups to use provincial Human Rights Tribunals to promote a radical agenda and block believers from speaking and acting freely.
These “acrimonious procedures,” they said, “would be better replaced by a civilized and respectful debate” that offers “a voice in the public forum to religious believers.”
“If that voice is suppressed in any way, believers should view this as a restriction on their right to freedom of religion, one which should be forcefully challenged,” the bishops stated.
Billed as a “pressing appeal” to people of all religions and outlooks, the Canadian bishops' “Pastoral Letter on Freedom of Conscience and Religion” cites the country's Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which numbers “freedom of conscience and religion” among the fundamental Canadian liberties.
However, the bishops' message also makes it clear that religious freedom is not a right given by the government. Rather, it is a human right that the state “acknowledges and respects” but “does not grant.”
For the full report, click here.
Do you agree that religious freedom is in danger in Canada? Why or why not?