Cross Country Checkup

Does religion have a place in public life?

In the spirit of multiculturalism, Canada has made room for a world of perspectives. But what about the closely held values of religion there room for them? Should they be included on the public stage and in public policy? Does religion have a place in public life? With Rex Murphy, live at Regent College on the UBC Vancouver campus....
Listen to the full episode1:53:00
In the spirit of multiculturalism, Canada has made room for a world of perspectives. But what about the closely held values of religion there room for them? Should they be included on the public stage and in public policy? Does religion have a place in public life?

With Rex Murphy, live at Regent College on the UBC Vancouver campus.


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Religion as a topic does not often appear in the news in Canada. Over the past weeks, though, three stories hit the headlines re-awakening discussions that happen more commonly in private.

The exit of Pope Benedict and the anticipation of the naming of a new Pope has created a stir well beyond the ranks of the Catholic community. Also Prime Minister Stephen Harper unveiled Canada's new Office of Religious Freedom, a move puzzling to some and most welcome to others. Finally the Supreme Court decision on the case between the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission and William Whatcott pits secular beliefs against one individual's religious values.

Over the years religion has become less and less a formal part of the public sphere, largely relegated to the domain of the private and personal. Many feel too much so -- to the point that those beliefs so closely held have become almost taboo. Canadian multiculturalism has welcomed the world to our shores and, in doing so, has created a surprisingly comfortable environment for a range of customs, beliefs, and traditions. But religion is the one area where frictions arise, and it is in the role of religion in the public sphere that the most heat is created.

The use of religious symbols in the public square has created tensions in communities across Canada. Muslim veils and headscarves in schools and on soccer fields, Sikh kirpans in schools, Christian crosses in legislatures, prayers at townhall meetings, even native sweetgrass ceremonies are just a few examples where some feel that public display of faith is inappropriate or even threatening.

Many immigrants came to Canada to escape the religious oppression -- often state-sanctioned -- found in their home countries. But does Canada's freedom to practise religion, and its separation from the state, mean that religion should be hidden from public view -- that it has no place in the public square?

Christian references are written into our laws, frequently included in public events, and form the basis for major holidays such as Christmas and Easter. Should those be removed to avoid offending non-Christians? And similarly, should others be prevented from displays of their faith in public events and institutions? Should other faiths be given more prominence? Can the public expression of one diminish the other? Can religious faith be accommodated in public life and institutions? Can a range of religions co-exist and be given room on the public stage? What about secular values? Are they really a neutral substitute?

Our question today: "Does religion have a place in public life and institutions?"

I'm Rex Murphy ...on CBC Radio One ...and on Sirius satellite radio channel 159 ...this is Cross Country Checkup.


  • Raheel Raza
    President, Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow, international representative at the United Nations Human Rights Council, and author of Their Jihad...Not My Jihad.

  • John Stackhouse
    Professor of theology and culture at Regent College, author of Can God Be Trusted: Faith and the Challenge of Evil.

  • Ujjal Dosanjh
    Former premier of B.C. and former federal minister of health


Globe and Mail

National Post

Vancouver Sun


Toronto Star

Open Canada

The Muslim Times

Catholic Register

Montreal Gazette


I heard this morning that the topic for discussion for today's show was to be about religion and public services. This is an area of interest to me. Currently I am working on determining whether there are any regulations governing the downloading of what was government services (public services) to faith-based organizations. There appears to be none at any levels of government.
This is a human rights issue and one that is moving in under the radar. My concern is that many of the faith-based organizations see their mission to 'save souls' as a quid pro quo in return for service delivery.

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

I find it disturbing that there's already too much religion in politics. If anyone wants to believe in pink unicorns or the flying spaghetti monster or any other myth or superstition religious leaders can dream up, then that's their choice. But keep your personal beliefs out of government business. Religions have clearly been shown to be man-made fantasies. Their so-called holy books are simply the claim, not the evidence. Most claim that their belief is the one true religion. This only causes endless conflict & division in our country and around the world as we've all seen. Many religious leaders are only interested in a theocracy. They want their version to have total control. That's not democracy by a long shot.

 Another disgusting thing is that too many politicians are using religion as a means to gain votes. Somehow some voters seem to think that if the person running in this country or the US claims to be a Christian then he or she is will make a better politician. There's something wrong with that idea. That's a good reason not to vote for them because, like I said, religious types are only interested in total control. Qualifications are what should be most important. Somehow our political system has become flawed in this area. In my opinion powerful religious leaders are to blame. They spend huge amounts lobbying governments for their own religious agendas.
 I came across this great quote from Isaac Asimov wrote "Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."
 Another great quote comes from Stephen Hawking. "Humanism rejects religion. It attributes nothing to the so called "supernatural". In this there is an awakening liberty that releases us from the shackles and servitude mentality of old superstitions so that we may realize our full potential."

Again I say, "Religion in politics- definitely NOT."

Fredericton, New Brunswick

That is the same question as asking if homeopathy, astrology and ghost banishing have a legitimate part of public life.


What do (you - I - anyone) see as the future direction of "The Church".  All religions are losing interest.  They no longer have any validity in the control they once had since it was always a secular political power that was exercised in every single case from ancient time to now.

Religionists still maintain a distinction between their metaphysical beliefs and knowledge based beliefs.  Each religious group claims that all other groups are wrong.  Unity never existed at any time with any.  Dogmatic agents trying to be spokespersons for spiritual habits every time they are facing criticism will pretend to be liberal leaning all the while claiming the spirit will guide.  This is the usual cop out denying any responsibility for their actions as in the common mantra "god willing" as though we had no choice.

Not choosing is a choice.  Religion is imagination and not very thoughtful and deserves no part in government.  In all its aspects religion has  absolute views demanding only dictatorship.  This is intolerable.

Garibaldi Highlands, British Columbia

Trudeau said "The state has no business in the bedrooms of the nation".  Wise words indeed and thus was born our Constitution.  Doesn't this overarching document define our Canadian values? Why do we need an Office of Religious Freedom when our values of multiculturalism, inclusiveness, and freedom of expression are already enshrined in the Constitution? Trudeau had it right....let's leave it alone!!


Firstly, I am concerned that this show is being held at a theology college - not exactly neutral ground for this discussion.

I'm not opposed to people of faith holding office; I've voted for many of them.  My one proviso is that the candidate believe in the separation of church and state.  Specifically, they must understand that discussion of public policy should be framed "entirely in secular terms, and decisions about public policy should be based entirely on secular considerations."  Religion should have "no role of informing and shaping public policy and, in particular, religious tenets should not be used as a justification for public policy decisions."

I have no doubt that the issue of morality will take centre stage at today's show, with religious folk claiming that they have the "moral high ground" on this issue.  Not true.    "Democratic secular humanism has been a powerful force in world culture. Its ideals can be traced to the philosophers, scientists, and poets of classical Greece and Rome, to ancient Chinese Confucian society, to the Carvaka movement of India, and to other distinguished intellectual and moral traditions.

Victoria, British Columbia

I puzzle how anything spiritual can survive being institutionalized in the way it is.
The true spirituality of any religion is so often held, not in its leaders or its Priesthoods but in its mystics and ordinary worshippers. Its the people who provide the life-blood of a Faith, not the hierarchy which mostly, but not always, is made up of people who see which side of their bread is buttered on more than they see God or anything Divine. Spirituality is what should be practised and lived in our hearts and minds daily. It need not to be publicized. Our actions and words will speak of it loudly enough. Organized religion has little to do with spirituality nor morality as we have witnessed over and over again. In fact it is Socrates who had it right by saying an "un-examined life is not worth living" were we to live our lives examined we would be living a truly religious life.

As for Rex saying the bible is a good book to start, I could not agree less. Its a horrid book full of violence with a wrathful God full of punishment with little mercy, slavery, slaughter, hate, it teaches us nothing on how to be as a community, live amicably in diversity. It should only be viewed as history, teaching the young how infinitely ignorant humanity's believes once were.

Kelowna, British Columbia

I feel that politicians should not be allowed to bring religion into our parliament. Howver it has already happened without current government. The corrosive Christianity that the Harper government seems be inflicting on the country is the politics of mean and really believe that the majority of Canadians are not mean but this particular government is  small minded and mediocre and full of nastiness.

It is very easy to whip up religious and racist hatred. Belief systems clash because male aggression seems to be untameable. God, capitalism and communism are just an excuse for conflict. It is appalling that leaders quote morality as a justification for their actions. There is no morality in killing people.

Single minded zealots seem to rule the world, politicians, religious leaders, terrorists, media and business moguls. Most of them are too arrogant and stupid to see that their beliefs are flawed.
We send help to the Middle East to the help overthrow various regimes...get rid of one set of thugs...only to be replaced with another set of thugs.

All politicians praise virtue and transparency and truth publicly and allow deceit and corruption to proliferate privately. When suddenly the vice is discovered and they are taken to task they deny, deny, deny. Then come the apologies and the story goes on and on and they carry on as if nothing has happened.

Baltimore, Ontario

Religion should never be allowed to have influence on any level or aspect of public life. There has yet to be a religion that was not exclusive and self-righteous. There have been far too many cases in human history where religions were used to participate in the slaughter of people.

Parry Sound, Ontario

Religion does not belong in public life.  It should be personal and separate.  I do not want religion in schools, I do not want charter schools.  There should be one school system regardless of what religion you are.  If parents wish to have their children brought up in their religion they can do that evenings and weekends.  And that goes for all public figures.  If you wish to follow or practise your religion then so be it, but do it on your own time and not on public time.  I do not want any of our public policies being swayed by any religious group.

Toronto, Ontario
A long time ago we had gods of all different kinds. Famine lightening and many more to explain all kinds of phenomena. I have come to the conclusion that God was created in the minds of man to explain that which he could not explain.

North Vancouver, British Columbia 

I feel that Stephen Harper's new Office of Religious Freedom is disingenuous in the face of the Conservatives' continued censorship of scientific research. It's a smokescreen, an attempt to distract from their fundamental intolerance.


Of course religion has a place in public life. We learn an immense amount about ourselves through the triumphs and mistakes religion makes on our behalf. If we believe it has no place in the state and it is feared in private where else can it exist truthfully but in public?


I'm 72 years old and until a few years ago I was an agnostic with occasional leanings towards atheism whenever I heard of some war or whatever that was based on religious beliefs.  After a lot of reading I found that I can be nothing but a secular atheist which suits me well.
At one time, Trudeau said the government has no business in the bedrooms of the nation: well I say religion has no business in the backrooms of government.

Not long ago I sent my idea of a secular government to 23 people where we all pass things around once and awhile.  Not surprisingly I only got a few replies, one of which to this day has me upset.  This person is a very devout Baptist and in his reply he said, 'No way, we need honest and honourable people in government'.  Well, that sure puts me in my place.

I could go on for a few hundred pages but I think you get my point.
By the way, I love Christmas and say merry Christmas to many folk.  If somebody is celebrating in their faith I will say something appropriate.  Christmas like any other occasion should be able to include others of different persuasion. Merry Christmas, it's only 296 days away.


Public life benefits from a multiplicity and variety of ideas and contributions. Everyone who wishes to contribute and participate should be able to. Religious ideas and contributors included.

All contributions should be evaluated on their own merits and without prior privilege or protection from criticism or challenge. If religion has a place in public life, it is just as any other contribution: open to any and all respectful and relevant discussion; it should be granted no shelter from the challenges that any other contribution is subject to.

Essentially, my approach is that we should make no distinction between religiously-motivated and non-religiously-motivated participation in public life. Your argument, claim, demand, etc. should be assessed on its own merits, based on the support you can supply for it, the data you use to back it up, and the logic you employ, just as any other such argument is assess

Vancouver, British Columbia

Those whom we elect to public office will make decisions following the dictates of their conscience, or so one would hope.  A person's conscience is informed by their world view and the principles that they believe in.  The electorate should understand and evaluate a person's beliefs and values before they elect them.  In this way, and this way only, should any religion or belief system have a place in public life.  When religion takes a larger role in government, liberty inevitably suffers.

The Canadian government's new Office of Religious Freedom is unnecessary and possibly harmful.  Religious freedom is only really protected by upholding all of the basic human rights & freedoms.  When you have freedom of thought, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, freedom of the press, the right to education and security of the person, you already have everything required for freedom of religion - that is, the freedom to form, discuss and change one's personal beliefs.    However, when 'religious freedom'  becomes a primary goal, all of the other freedoms are likely to suffer.

The concept of 'religious freedom' begs several questions: How much religious freedom?   Should practices that cause harm or suffering be condoned, if a religion requires it?  The world is rife with horrors related to religious practice:  genital mutilation, denial of education to women, subversion of education to religious doctrine, polygamy, oppression based on gender, race or sexual orientation, to name a few.  Should a child's future be limited by the dictates of its parents' religion?  Should a person be subjected to grievous bodily harm or brutal forms of punishment if religious laws demand it?  Should those who hold opinions contrary to those of the prevailing religion have to live in fear?

Whose religion?  There are myriad religions and variations of religions in the world, Most of these see other religions as inferior, many are openly hostile to other beliefs, some to the point of violence.  Invariably, the more influence any given religion has in a society, the more oppressive and unjust that society becomes and the more dangerous it becomes for anyone to express opposing views.  Indeed, the only places where people of different religions (or no religion) can coexist peacefully are secular societies such as Canada, where religion is considered a private matter and is allowed no direct role in government.

So again, the only possible acceptable role of religion in public life is in forming the inner values and conscience of elected public officials.  If religious freedom means the personal freedom to openly discuss matters of personal belief, then I am all for it.  If, however, it means increased influence of any given religion on public policy, then we should think again.

Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan

How refreshing and articulate to hear the comments of RR. Her comment on coming to Canada for freedom and to learn about Christianity says it all.   One cannot deny that history repeats itself.  All civilizations have fallen because of man's weakness, foolishness and pride which is inherent in all of us. Religion is a foundation of strong and lasting civilizations but where are there lasting examples of this as, all have fallen due to lack of respect and honour of the almighty.  All men at created equal in the eyes of god. Whatever government whatever nation that continues to extinguish and suppress Faith calls for eventual destruction.


The only thing this so called Office of Religious Freedom should be supporting is the right of children to decide, once they reach the age of majority, what faith if any they wish to follow. Children should be free from the dogmatic doctrinal teachings of all faiths until then.

Yarbo, Saskatchewan

The assignment to religion of responsibility and authority for public morality is a grievous, groundless assumption that produces much harm.   Witness: Crusades, Jihad, Spanish Inquisition, etc.

I agree that people have the right to state their religious opinions, but that is a far cry from the right to impose their religious dictates upon others.

The chief value of religion is in providing people with a sense of belonging to a group of like-minded people, and with a sense of the role and meaning of a human life within creation, generally.   Any role beyond those basics is a groundless assumption.

There is no sound reason for allowing religious thought to impose any rules of morality or conduct upon anyone.

Morality is secular business only; there is no need to impose religion upon it.

Cowichan Valley, British Columbia

Is Pat Carney in stating that it is difficult to work with people of no faith suggesting that people who are not part of a religious faith are without values?  As a Secular Humanist, I have many values, some shared with world faiths, and therefore have many values which I share with Pat Carney.  However, the church and religion have no part in the state.  Using values we have learned from whatever source without reference to a specific religion is important, however.   The values that we try to do no harm, help others live dignified and valued lives etc.  are ideas to which we can all agree. Leave your religion or lack thereof out of the public discourse!

Victoria, British Columbia

Your topic, as well as inspiration from the pope and his resignation, has coincided with my long overdue cancelling of my catholic franchise. Even though I haven't practiced for decades I wrote my letter earlier today. State sanctioned religious dogma needs to be cancelled also. As individuals full protection of religious/spiritual values to be practiced in our private lives must be upheld. Considering how long religious dogma has contributed to ecosystem abuse, it's time to get on with being members of the 'earth church' and move prayer to action so all of our children have a chance of survival.

Dragon Lake, British Columbia

Of course anyone should be free to say publicly say whatever they wish about religion.  I say that religion is backwards, ignorant, and brutish.  They burned Giordano Bruno and they have not changed since those days (same old Bible/Koran/whatever). What has changed, is what thinking people will let these dogmatists get away with.

Now politics is also backwards and ignorant. So I would say that religion in politics is doubly stupid.  But you can't outlaw stupidity, right?

Wolfville, Nova Scotia

Appeasing the religion of the head of state, should have no bearing on expectations and legislation in a multicultural country.  Proper leadership, is without bias within the law.  The Prime Minister is a prime example, of the failure of any form of faith based governance.


Listening to your program brings home the old adage of not discussing religion in public. I am not against any religion. I have travelled into countries of a different religion from "ours" and have respected the customs of each and every country that I have travelled through. What I do not understand is why is it, here in Canada That anything to do with Christanity is deemed politically incorrect, yet we are supposed to honour every other religion, or we are being prejudiced? If it's improper to display Christianity, then it should be the same for every other religion. I for one, am completely fed up with the down with Christianity movement by other religions here in Canada, and silly "politically correct" politicians. Just let us all play well together. Thank you

Penticton, British Columbia

I am uncomfortable with people in positions of political authority whose personal religious beliefs deal with the end of the world.  They may feel immune to the consequences of lax environmental policy or nuclear weapons build-up.  I worry about the effect of such policies on future generations.

What do panel members think of this?

Medicine Hat, Alberta

I wanted to share a quote that resonated with me deeply on your subject.  I chose it as an opining quote for a paper I recently wrote on Inter-cultural leadership for my MSc degree in positive organizational development and change.  I shared some thoughts on this subject in an earlier email.  There was much to say and I don't imagine you will had time to digest.  The quote below might be a nice way to end your program with:

"This is how life will be.  I must be wholehearted while tentative, fight for my values yet respect others, believe my deepest values right, yet be ready to learn.  I see that I shall be retracing this whole journey over and over - but, I hope, more wisely."
 Perry, W.G. Jr.

Ottawa, Ontario

I don't do religion but religion affects my life. I hope the new pope of the Catholic church will introduce some important changes in the church, especially in regard to secrecy. It is wrong that people who commit serious offences should be forgiven by another person, a priest, and not be charged with the offence under the laws of the land. The priest could be advised to warn the offender that any illegal offence will be reported to the authorities. In addition, cardinals should not be allowed to protect offenders who have been reported to them.

Sidney, British Columbia

Religion is a personal matter.  I do not want any religion (mine or anyone else's) to be shoved down my throat or anyone else's throat. Too much talk about God, generally leads to the oppression of women - why?  Religion is manmade and man managed. Some religious people, especially the big talkers who talk on behalf of their religion, seem to think that because they are religious, they somehow speak "God's Word". The Bible is subject to many interpretations. And I don't think anyone needs to be convinced that religious people don't know God's telephone number or email address.

Toronto, Ontario

Faith is believing things without evidence.  People may believe Noah's ark, garden of Eden  and other nonsense; it doesn't matter.  But the post secularist fundamentalist be they Christian, Muslim do not restrict religious practice to sacramental, ceremonial and personal morality.  The religious fundamentalist who are seizing political power want to set governmental policy from religious prophecy.  I am finished with being tolerant of intolerance.

By the way, perhaps someone should tell Pat Carney that the golden rule is in the bible.
Matthew 7:12. But the golden rule is not wise because it is in the bible.

Courtenay, British Columbia

Religion has no place in public life because religion, by definition, is exclusive. However, spirituality does have a place in public life in my opinion, because spirituality embraces and includes all religions. Spirituality is part of the life of the people and, as a democracy, we have an obligation to include and embrace all points of view. Spirituality can work as a glue to unify and transcend all religions, and provide a higher context in which to discuss social issues and unify people. Otherwise, we lose perspective and the ability to make distinctions and decisions concerning matters of ultimate value.

Toronto, Ontario

Everyone has faith. Atheists' faith is that there is not God. Dogmatic, close-minded atheists  are as dogmatic and close-minded as dogmatic close-minded religious people. People carry their beliefs wherever they go and their beliefs are not just religious ones, they are beliefs about gender roles, the value of a human life, and who will win the Stanley Cup.  People who enter public life bring their religious, religious or other beliefs with them, and we ask them to represent us, uphold the constitution, make legislation, and sometimes to vote according to their conscience. Some of the things we ask them to do are at odds with one another.  I think it's messy and confusing but in my view it's not a bad thing. At one time I mentioned to gay friend that I thought Canada should uphold the right to choice on issues such as abortion, even though I might not make such a choice myself but she pointed out that some people believe bestiality or pederasty is ok and i would have to say I don't believe in choice in those areas. So my belief is that not all choices  should be permissible, but how we limit choice should be subject to great scrutiny, openness and debate.

I agree with the guy who just said it's important to hear from  politicians  what kind of Roman Catholic (Jew, atheist,  etc) they are and how they hope to use office as long as they are open about their stance and give voters a chance to make informed decisions probably would get some people interested in voting!

Antigonish, Nova Scotia

Today's "Does religion have a place in public life and institutions" was quite informative and I appreciate all the comments from the people in the forum as well as the callers. I just wanted to share a way of practicing common living values and it is called "Living Values" It relates to: peace, respect, love, responsibility, happiness, cooperation, honesty, humility, simplicity and unity. I find out that these values are the common ground of all religions and spirituality.
I practice these values myself in my daily life as much as I can for the last 30 years, and still I am learning!! but I find that if every person could practice at least respect and honesty the rest will come true.  I must say that Religion is very personal but when you practice these values it becomes natural to be able to share and talk about it.I work with small children and if you are a role model with these values, it is valuable for them without preaching.

Vancouver, British Columbia

I think today's question might have avoided unnecessary explanation if the word faith were to replace religion. Websters 1828 dictionary says the root word of religion is from the Latin; religio, which means to 'bind anew'. In that light, any ideology, practice or belief can be religious, and that includes secular laws and the priesthood of government that make and enforce them.
Being bound, which by definition might be called 'worship' to a god, practice or idea is the the locus of a religion, not the object of affection.Its disingenuous to attack the object of my worship if you have one yourself, and the mean spirited and myopic vitriol that increasingly fills the public conversation is teaching yet another young generation attacking someone else in the pursuit of being right trumps the universal human right to believe whatever is right for you.

Greenbank, Ontario

Absolutely not!  Religion has been responsible for wars, ethnic cleansing etc.  Leave it up to people to worship in their own homes and churches. We should never had allowed the Catholic (separate school boards) to be implemented. There should be one public school system, that way no religions are left out and there is no segregation.  If we allow one school system that is religion based, then all religions should be allowed schools. Our government simply does not have the finances to do that. So leave it at one public school system with no religious affiliation.
Parents should be responsible for teaching their own children their religion, Not leaving it up to the schools.

Flamborough, Ontario

I am a senior citizen who was an evangelical Christian for the first half of my life and then, unable to avoid the evidence any longer, became an atheist. All religions postulate an imaginary friend or friends and I cannot imagine why any of these vaporings ought to have a position in the development of public policy.

Ingersoll, Ontario

Canada is a democratic country and one of its well respected feature is that it treated its citizens equally regardless of their religious belief. Religion is a personal matter, a choice each individual made. When we put religion in public life, favouritism, discrimination and inequality arise. This has been proven in the past and present history, i.e., discriminatory treatment of aboriginal children in missionary schools because they have different religious belief. On that note, all public institutions, such as, schools and hospitals should be secular. Sadly, many provinces still continue to fund certain religious schools, hospitals, social/settlement services which have discriminating practices. e.g. Catholic school boards requires teacher applicants to submit pastoral reference letter stating that the applicant is a catholic in good standing. When I want to enroll my children to our local catholic school for closer proximity, I was refused to even obtain an application form for the reason that we are not baptised catholic. A prime example of inequality and discrimination. Since public institutions are funded by the public and to serve the public of religious and secular citizens. Religious based organizations should not be funded by public funds.


The last time I looked in my 30 years in Public Service for every legislature; guides and rules that are enacted by government whether it be Regional; Municipal: Provincial or Federal. Politicians do not make rules as they go along.  They must reach a consensus and sometimes crossing party lines - invite yourself and your panel to the Legislative Library and look around, and do you honestly believe in an evolving world that you want to introduce religion into this.  Oh my god, tell Canadians to expect to pay 90% of their income to taxes.
Intelligent, normal people do not need to be led by Religion to be involved in politicians and make rules in our country.  Religion and the practise of it should be personal; private and leave politics out of it.


We have a large pagan community here on Vancouver Island. There is a pagan chaplain at the University of Victoria and Wiccan courses. (Pagan means of the country, heathen means of the heath) because we are closely connected to the earth, Christians are interested in areas above earth, or below, our governments terrible environmental record means we are very much at odds with them. I do wish our government was in touch with our beautiful earth, as they are dooming our children and the children of faiths the world over. This seems to me to be unchristian and frankly evil by anyone's standards.

Courtenay, British Columbia

Society must determine what religious values must be judged by the general population now vs what religious improprieties should be not and judged by an individuals religion and there specific day of reckoning.

Vancouver, British Columbia

Everyone has views, whether they are religious or not.  You cannot pretend that you don't have beliefs if you are not religious.  All views that are not hate crimes should all be allowed to be expressed. In the Canadian politics of today, I feel that my views, many of which happen to come from my religious teachings, are a liability, because they are at odds with those of the ruling party in Canada.  Now that the Conservatives have a majority, I feel that there is a real clamp down on alternate views to theirs.  They spout that they are in favour of a multiversity of views, but I do not think that is really the case.  For example, why can't our scientists share their findings freely?


Not necessarily. My perception is that "religion" is part of the politician's costume. I would be pleased if "Government" and those within it would adopt ethics and morality as part of their political persona.


Religion is a personal domain but all religious persons must be allowed to be express their views openly and freely regardless of the religion they follow without any form of reprisal. Contrary to our Edmonton economics professor the Canadian political system is not well organized nor is it democratic. But that is another whole show. Excellent guests.

Gold River, British Columbia

A comment Rex on your proposition the strong religious values and political life are antithetical. The most fundamental democratic principle is that the majority rules. I think one would have to accept that before standing for public service. However that in no way inhibits one from strenuously arguing a point of view. This could be based on religious values, environmental and so on. In fact it happens all the time.

Peachland, British Columbia

I'm amazed that ancient superstitions still inform the world view of so many.  The human imagination created gods and religions.  The human intellect has created so much more.  We humans need to have more faith in ourselves.

Ottawa, Ontario

We do not yet understand what religion is, nor why it is, in some form, found in all cultures.  The roots of most religions arise from avatars or prophets, and we do not understand the consciousness which moves them.  In my old age I have come to see that religion is a kind of cultural DNA, and arises from the deep living pulse of evolution -- or in the other perspective, from the Creator.  We need to forge new ways of thinking of religion as an essential function of consciousness, and then we moderns can let go of the old forms and fly free in harmony with  the living universe.  And this is what the mystics have always taught.

Fredericton, New Brunswick

Since religion , whether it be religious or secular , has a bearing on the beliefs , values and ethics of all persons , when we have elections , we should be getting information on the religious beliefs , values and ethics of each and every candidate , complete with a debate as to which set of beliefs , values and ethics will best serve society.  Elections should never be about what anyone will do, but what the candidates believe and value and whether each candidate has the courage and wisdom to apply theirs beliefs in service to the community.

Armstrong , British Columbia

Religion does have practical positive social effects, too. Think of the Judaeo-Christian day of rest.

Remember the furor over the Lord's Day Act? Some of my fellow Christians argued that businesses should remain closed on Sunday because God says so in the Bible. Secularists argued that Christians shouldn't be imposing their beliefs on the general not-all-Christian population.

Both were arguing from the wrong perspective. Businesses closed on Sunday provided one universal day of rest each week on which all non-essential businesses would be closed so no business would have an advantage over any other. And how many harassed, rat-raced people today wouldn't give their eye teeth for one day of rest even just once a month?

Both sides should have been arguing based on the positive effect of the Lord's Day Act.

Not all religious doctrine is mere dogma. There is wisdom in much of it that has practical positive social effect. So, bringing any religious conviction into politics should be tested in terms of its positive social effect as determined in open public discourse.

Kingston, Ontario

As an evangelical Christian, I would like to ask the question why is it politically correct in our country to discriminate against Christians, but never anyone else? I'm not saying I'd want to see others discriminated against at all! But it seems that these days in Canada, it's perfectly acceptable to tell a conservative Christian that they cannot speak their personal beliefs in public and they certainly cannot allow their beliefs to influence decisions and actions in government. Would a Muslim or a Sikh or a Jew or a person of any other beliefs be told this?  For the most part, no!  In my personal experience in working retail, I have been refused employment at more than one retailer because I would prefer not to work on Sunday, my holy day, if you will. Would the same thing happen to someone of another faith? Not likely.

Again, I would not want to see others discriminated against, nor would I want to push my beliefs on others--that is a personal choice and cannot be legislated. However, as I've said, it is troubling and frustrating that it seems okay in Canada to discriminate against Christians, and evangelicals in particular.

Fergus, Ontario

Religion is a red herring here,   The question should be the role in the public sphere of any unconditional faith.  When anybody's faith in anything becomes confounded with facts there is a problem.    For example if an atheist says she thinks that homosexuality is wrong and it makes her uncomfortable, it is different from saying the Bible proves that  homosexuals are evil and that society should act on the basis of that "fact."  The confusion of belief with fact  is  hardly confined to religion, so the source of a belief it immaterial to its role in the public sphere.   I think no matter of faith should be imposed on others in the guise of a fact. That said, beliefs and morality  can have a valuable role in any negotiation about public policy if they are presented for what they are.

Vaughan, Ontario

The vast majority of Canadians have some type of faith. Some of these belong to major religions. This means that most of those in governance also have faith.  To ask those in governance to not bring their faith into their work is similar to asking business people to ignore the profit motive. If faith does not affect governance, we are ignoring the central motive for most that serve the public.

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

I would first like to take issue with the premise of this show.  I do not see how in any way religious views are treated as secondary or as more toxic.  When we have separate school boards privileging one particular form of Christianity; and when we have Bible studies in ostensibly Public schools; when our MP can publish a column in our local paper that promotes Christianity in the government and proselytizes, then I find it rather absurd to suggest that religious views are in any way valued less.

It's not as though Public Schools are teaching atheism as a truth-statement about the world; they are, however, teaching religious views as truth claims

Nobleford, Alberta

 Our First Nations would surely bring a benefit if their spiritual life was welcome in public life.

Burlington, Ontario

The only reason we have a growth in rational thought is because since the 60's we have become more secular after experiencing excessive religious zeal non religious has started to allow us to become rational people without the skewed blinkers of religion, all religions the notion that we only religious people have the high ground on moral thought and behaviour is absurd.

Sudbury, Ontario

I just tuned in.  I'm a lapsed Anglican. But make no mistake, the preamble to the Charter is "Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law.

Why do they care if someone is a believer or not?  I can't figure that out.  I respect my friends who believe and those that don't.  The ones that do have faith likely do not suffer as much as those that do not have faith - in my experience. Love the show.

Winnipeg, Manitoba

It's not "religion" that's the problem per say.  It's major religions spending massive amounts of money and court time to send lawyers to intervene in constitutional cases that we must continue to enforce religious moral edicts as interpreted through only certain religions through our Criminal Code.  It's an argument that no westernized country has taken seriously since the 14th century, and Jeremy Bentham has called it "nonsense on stilts".  That is, ridiculous arguments that are dressed up and paraded around by so-called religious learned figures that are about major religions exercising control over countries and taking money for their "religious service" to the nation in return.

Toronto, Ontario

Thank you so much for the discussion on religion in public institutions. I appreciated the well-spoken panel that you assembled.  I work in a public library and had an employer who was vocally antichristian. It was difficult, to say the least, as I am an Orthodox Christian. I agree that the "Christian viewpoint" has been aggressively minimalized by those who are antichristian. Other religions are fine but not the one that our society was built on. Thanks again for bringing another great topic to the air.

Creston, British Columbia


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