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CBCNews.ca readers pose own questions about Office of Religious Freedom

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Prime Minister Stephen Harper named Andrew Bennett, a 40-year-old Catholic and academic, as the first head of the new Office of Religious Freedom yesterday

He has been the dean of Augustine College, a small, private Christian liberal arts college in Ottawa, since February 2011. He teaches the history of Christianity there.


In the comments on our stories, the CBC Community is asking questions of their own. 

  • "Having read and listened to the explanations surrounding the establishment of this office, I can not see the need for it. Foreign Affairs can carry out every one of the statistical research projects and thereby feed information to our diplomatic negotiators. The basic right to religious freedom falls under the more general concept of human rights, for which there are numerous Canadian and international charters in place. So, why is this office really being created, and why is its creation being trumpeted so loudly?" asked screeched.

  • "Why would they pull the plug on International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development, last year, just to create another office that is more narrowly focused?" asked Kathisan.

  • "Will the Ambassador of Religious Freedom (just writing it fills me with trepidation), be addressing the firing of all non-Christian chaplains in our prison system, forcing non-Christians to only access Christian priests and pastors for spiritual guidance?" asked one of many.

  • "I only have one. How soon can we shut it down and do something relevant with the money? Like, I don't know, continue our freshwater experiments? Reopen that coast guard station?" asked VerbTheAdjectiveNoun.

  • "If a group is being persecuted treat it as a human rights issue, which we already have many government bodies to handle. In an era of austerity, cut-backs, and threats to OAS the last thing we need is a pet-project government bureaucracy springing up. Is this more important than having adequate search and rescue or resources for the elderly and sick? How about the children going to school hungry every day?" asked BWesty .

  • "I noticed not a single Buddhist, Muslim, Wiccan, Taoist, Zen Buddhist nor atheist is a part of this. That's well over half of all spiritually related people in the world. Doesn't seem this office is very religious nor free," said Warhippy.

  • "If I say that I believe all religion is just a power-grab perpetrated against the vulnerable, and that none of it is true, is that a religious belief this new office would seek to protect, or is it the sort of religious hatred and intolerance they would seek to eliminate? In other words, is our government now officially peddling religion?" asked eupeptic.

  • "Humans will never be truly free until they have sufficiently evolved to reject mythology and superstition and adopt logic and reason. It is happening, even if a lot slower than logical reasonable people would prefer. Embrace the future. Religion is the past," said Dennis Brady.

  • "Religion is about belief, not reason. It divides people based on those who accept and others who choose independent thinking. This new 'office' will do little more than reinforce old stereotypes," said CBCROP. 

But some members of the CBC Community applauded the creation of the Office of Religious Freedom and objected to the antitheistic tone shown in some of the comments. 

  • "That you stereotype all religious people as lacking reason and independent thinking is precisely why we need an office like this. Religious people are not without reason or independent thinking, they choose to believe in something that makes sense to them. That is their right, just like you have the right not to believe. That you dismiss people's beliefs as 'old stereotypes' in what comes across as a superior attitude is why we need this office," replied Proseandverse.

  • "Either there are a lot of uncaring Canadians or a lot of Canadians who are unaware of the extent of persecution of religious minorities that is going on in the world," said Ted Hewlett.

  • "This is a great idea since religious intolerance remains the only socially acceptable discrimination people still readily engage in these days. Intolerance based on a person's religion is no more acceptable than discrimination and insults based on a person's colour. Many seem unaware of that," said thisnameinuse99. 

  • "Finally, an organization that will look into promoting religious freedoms. A very important element in society, for all religions to coexist together in peace and harmony," said Johannorous1. 

Thank you for all your comments.  Please feel free to continue the conversation in the comments thread below.

Tags: Canada, Community, Community Reaction, Politics, religion

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