01.08.2012 01:00 AM

In today’s Sun: Church, State, Wall

Foreign Affairs minister John Baird believes in religious freedom. Just ask him.

In interviews in recent days, Baird — not someone we’d regard as a regular churchgoer — has been trumpeting the Conservative Party’s election promise to create a $20-million Office of Religious Freedom (ORF) within Foreign Affairs.

“Freedom of religion is one of the first things in the Charter, it’s one of the first things in the Bill of Rights, it’s front and centre in the UN Declaration of Human Rights — it’s an essential human right,” Baird told The Canadian Press.

Now, I can’t recall Baird or his government being particularly enthusiastic about the Charter before — his boss, Stephen Harper, once called it “seriously flawed” because it promotes equality — but let’s give Baird the benefit of the doubt, shall we?

Personally, I think this initiative — which the Opposition has largely been silent about — is a very bad idea.

Here’s 10 reasons why:


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    Kevin Powell says:

    As a Christian clergyperson, I find this appalling. It’s CLEAR pandering to those Christian conservatives with persecution complexes. Why is this a priority given the myriad of problems Canada faces. I do not want my faith being used to advance a craven political agenda. Nor do I want my taxes funding this obvious ploy.

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    billg says:

    Ya, but it wont score points with fence sitting right wingers like myself who are not partisans. If your against the HRC’s how can you be for a Religious Freedom Office?
    Cripes…its 9am on Sunday morning and I’m agreeing with WK.

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    Brammer says:

    A commenter on the CBC story noted the irony of Mr. gold-leaf-business-card being the point-man on this issue, given his lifestyle. Some sort of self-loathing going on here. Might explain the ever present anger.

    The comment and it’s replies were respectful, but the CBC mods deleted the whole thread. Phone call / budget threat?

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    W.B. says:

    Excluding funerals, weddings etc, is Stephen Harper a regular church goer? In the US, the President’s church going habits are recorded by the media, where and how often, with family or alone, or does family go alone?

    Surely some reporter in Ottawa could tell us how often Harper attended regular church services in 2011? After all the Conservatives brought it up.

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      Iris Mclean says:

      He sends John Baird in his place.

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    JH says:

    I’d suggest the opposition parties might not want to touch this with a 10 foot pole because going on record as opposing it might not play well in many precincts and could come back to haunt them.
    Also Harper did make it part of an election platform and he won. It’s very hard to convince voters that he shouldn’t now implement an election promise that was made to them. (and please not all that % of the vote argument – it’s been the same way in elections for years).
    Finally I don’t really get this lifestyle and going to church biz – don’t see what it has to do with being against religious persecution. But then again, I didn’t get to mass today and no doubt that makes me a bad person in someone’s eyes.
    The better argument is the cost in these times of deficit reduction. That’s fact based and logical.
    Voters might agree with those who make that the issue.
    Everything else is partisan mumbo jumbo, which only the junkies pay attention to.

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    que sera sera says:

    It’s not too surprising the same government that revived the word “Royal” in the armed forces and regulated & refreshed the hanging of the Queen in foreign offices has suddenly regressed to spreading parochially religious colonialism from the Canadian colony to the rest of the world.

    Not too surprising coming from politicians who believe the Earth is 6000 years old, man walked with dinosaurs, and who abuse their political power to erode human rights and muzzle scientists & research.

    The Age of Endarkenment, brought to us by Harper, has officially begun.

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      Adam says:

      Right, because there is absolutely nothing wrong with killing another human being after they have committed the “crime” of apostasy. Who are we to judge, right? Friggin cave men conservatives. (sarcasm off).

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    que sera sera says:

    Much like narrow minded Conservative adherents, Harper’s monotheistic religion, politics & government have zero tolerance for diversity domestically or internationally.

    Harper’s Age of Endarkenment only defends & promotes judeo-xian religions & values while demonizing “Islamicisim”. What thinking Canadian wants their tax dollars and fellow Canadians used to advance Harper’s ORF whose acknowledged premise has been the basis for religious wars throughout the history of the world? Particularly since the world, apparently unlike Harper & his cult followers, has advanced beyond catapults & sieges into the nuclear age.

    I seriously suspect the voices in Harper’s head must be bothering him.

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      The Doctor says:

      “Harper’s ORF whose acknowledged premise has been the basis for religious wars throughout the history of the world? ”

      I thought that the stated purpose of this office is to fight persecution based on religion. I really don’t see how your post makes sense, given that fact.

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    M-J says:

    “There’s a wall between church and state.”

    Correct me if I’m wrong — I didn’t go to no fancy lawyerin’ school like others here — but I always thought the “separation of church and state” thingy was American; our head of state, after all, is also the head of the Anglican Church.

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      Ted says:

      It’s a concept that has been thoroughly adopted and endorsed in Canada. And for very good reason. The Queen is all but irrelevant to Canada and the anachronism of have a religious head of state in England is inapplicable here.

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    Tono Fonseca says:

    I agree that the office of religious freedom should not be created, but not for all of the same reasons you list.

    You seem to portray all religions as being persecuted equally worldwide. The reality is far from this. Check out the link below:


    The gigantic majority of persecutors of religions in the world today are Islamic and communist nations. The same Judeo-Christian principles you sneer at are the reason you are even allowed to criticise the government. The vast majority of people in the world today are not free to criticise their government.

    “Buddhists, Sikhs, Hindus and First Nation religious leaders were also excluded from Baird’s secretive fall meeting. None vote Conservative with great frequency — but they all represent millions of faithful Canadians.”

    Really? The Buddhist, Sikh, Hindu, and aboriginal religious beliefs combined are held by “millions of Canadians”? Where is the statistic to prove this? (By the way, permanent residents and temporary residents don’t count as Canadians)

    Good day sir

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      Adrian says:

      Very poorly written article I agree…tell me plz which 113 nations around the world persecute Islam as a faith…it’s definitely not the Americas, Europe, Oceania, and most of Asia. Everything in this article was completely “assumption” rather than fact…and a Dollar a from 66% of Canadians is hardly tax payer dollars to be crying about…

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      Jason King says:

      Tono, I just clicked on your profile. That’s a whole box o’ crazy you got goin on.

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    Anne Peterson says:

    I read that the Government of Sweden has officially recognized the Kopimism faith. It is a faith based on file sharing and on the spirituality of the free flow of information on line. It highly values honesty and openess. With their tendency to want to control and snoop into citizen’s online communications and to desperately hide their own information, how will the conservatives treat this new religion. I can see the idea driving them completely insane. They will want to persecute those involved, I think. Unless they are serious about their new office. What are the chances of it not being some kind of manipulative initiative. Small,I think. We shall see. Kopimism is a faith of the young and I can see it growing. Are conservatives being left behind? Is Canada being left behind?

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