Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Canada's Conservative government delivers to religion

Canada's conservative PM Stephen Harper finally delivers on a promise made to his conservative religious constituency. He establishes today an Office of Religious Freedoms. Thankfully it seems to be a window dressing activity, soon to be forgotten, given its measly 5 mio C$ annual budget. There ain't much it can do with that amount of money.

What's wrong with a taxpayer funded outfit designed to protect religious freedoms in other parts of the world? Nothing in principle, but... there is no good reason to privilege people's interest in holding religious views (that are fundamentally ideological views about the world) over other ideological views of the world. Why not establish an office aimed at protecting moral views of the world, conscience views or whatnot, if one sees the urgent need to protect people's (however implausible) views about how the world came about, or if one sees the need to protect their medieval takes on sexual mores or any number of other issues.

Clearly this outfit serves to realize a promise the current Canadian government made to its religious hard core of voters. While its 5 bio C$ budget suggests that even this government doesn't quite see the point of putting a lot of money into protecting people's religious freedoms in other parts of the world, it is still money that could have gone to better causes (eg the protection of people's human rights, including their right to hold ideological views of the world).

Addendum: Turns out my suspicions about this outfit were well justified. It is headed by a Catholic 'Dean' of a religious college graduating reportedly some 16 or so students. The college reportedly praises itself as an institution celebrating a model of 'education' that was in operation prior to the enlightenment age. I can't help but wonder whether Mr Harper was keen on discrediting his religious freedom operation before it even got into action. If that's what he aimed for, he certainly succeeded.

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