Saturday, 31 May 2008

Another reason I am glad to call myself Canadian

Fewer than three-quarters of Canadians believe in a god, suggests a new Canadian Press Harris-Decima survey.

"Religion in Canada today is not a particularly divisive subject and tolerance levels for different beliefs are high," said Harris-Decima president Bruce Anderson. "This is evident in the fact that one in four people feel comfortable saying they do not believe in a god."
This is, of course, is contradistinction to our neighbours to the south, where the figure falls to 8% - mostly due to political pressure.

The separation of church and state that is enshrined in the Constitution, and the freedom of religion (which included freedom from religion) was one of the most important things the Founding Fathers were fighting for. While intolerance is generally frowned upon, that does not apply to atheists. You do not have to spend very long on the web to realise that.

As far as I am concerned people can believe what they like. But they have no right at all to demand that others believe the same things that they do - or make that a condition of any services or accommodations. Yet it would be far harder to get elected in the US for any office, let alone that of president, by declaring that one is an atheist than being black or female. Indeed it wasn't so long ago that Americans were telling themselves how enlightened they were for electing the first Catholic - John F Kennedy.

And we don't do stupid things like printing "In God We Trust" on our money or forcing kids to learn creationism - or fighting court battles over plaques with the ten commandments on them in court houses.


sgt.turmeric said...

What's amazing to me is that Under God was added to the United States pledge of allegiance and In God We Trust was added to their money only in the 1950s.

Stephen Rees said...

It shouldn't be. It is only relatively recently that the "Christian Right" has begun to have such an overwhelming effect. Prior to that (and the recent packing of the Supreme Court with right wing fundamentalist sympathisers)they took issues such as separeation of chiurch and state seriously