CFI Canada Rejects Secularism—Again

…and lends its support to religious fanatics

2019-05-07
Last modified: 2019-05-13

Once again, by opposing Quebec’s Draft Bill 21, CFI Canada rejects the very secularism which it claims to espouse. But this time it’s worse: CFIC is now indulging in odious slander copied from secularism’s worst ennemies.

Sommaire en français
Sans suprise, CFI Canada exprime son rejet de la laïcité telle que formulée dans le projet de loi 21 au Québec. Mais cette fois, c’est pire, car cette organisation reprend le langage diffamatoire utilisé par les pires ennemis du la laïcité.

The Centre for Inquiry Canada (CFI Canada or CFIC) is an organization which pretends to support secularism, which it even claims as one of its “core areas of focus.” And yet, CFIC opposes secularism in the very place—Quebec—where the most significant progress toward that goal is being made.

We saw this behaviour of CFIC back in 2013 when that organization threw Quebec secularists under the bus by taking a position against the Charter of Secularism proposed by the government of the time. CFIC’s betrayal then was bad enough. But now, in 2019, it has repeated this shameful act in an even worse way.

In an article which was sent out by email and which appears on CFIC’s website, the organization not only fails to support Quebec Draft Bill 21, “An Act respecting the laicity of the State,” it denigrates that proposed legislation using language which is copied directly from anti-secular dogma and inspired by far-right Islamist propaganda.

Although the article never mentions Draft Bill 21 explicitly, it is clearly the target of disapproval. Also, the language of the article suggests the initiation of a debate, but it is obvious that rejection of Bill 21 is the foregone conclusion.

The CFIC article opposes secularism with a combination of misunderstanding, misinformation, and dishonesty. For example:

  • The article’s definition of “secularism” is limited to mere religious neutrality, thus failing to include religion-state separation. In other words, it is not full secularism.
  • The article fails to distinguish between public and civic spaces, falsely claiming that the Quebec law suppresses religious expression in the public space.
  • The article suggests that the legislation is “racist (or at least xenophobic).” Thus the article conflates race and religion, just like regressive pseudo-leftists, parliamentary motion M-103 and Islamists.
  • The article even suggests that Bill 21 is “just an implementation of ‘cultural Christianity’” which is a completely nonsensical assertion.

As a friend of mine expressed it on Facebook, “In an unsigned diatribe, CFI Canada, again, uses the standard arguments and half-truths of the regressive left to spew the usual vacuous accusations of xenophobia and racism against Quebec’s laicity. Lame, dishonest and disheartening.”

So what exactly does this horrible Bill 21 propose?

  1. It includes a comprehensive definition of secularism, including the all-important principle of separation between religion and State (the principle which is missing from CFIC’s article). Excellent!
  2. It stipulates that an official declaration of State secularism be inscribed in the Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Excellent!
  3. It bans public servants on duty in positions of authority, including schoolteachers, from wearing obvious religious symbols while on the job. This is incomplete—the ban should apply to the all civil servants—but a very good start.
  4. It restricts the wearing of face-coverings by public servants on duty and by users of public services. Again, very good!

Rejecting the first two points means rejecting secularism. Rejecting the third point means giving higher priority to religious exhibitionism than to the freedom of conscience of users and students. Rejecting the fourth point means compromising security and communication. Rejecting the third and fourth points means allowing religious fanatics free reign in civic institutions.

Any person who always, without exception, wears an obvious symbol of religious affiliation when leaving home is probably a religious fanatic. If that person refuses to remove the symbol even while working as a public servant, then he or she is certainly a religious fanatic and fundamentalist. Quebec’s Bill 21 would put a small but important brake on religious fanaticism in public services, just as existing Quebec law already bans public servants from partisan political displays. Bill 21 does not discriminate against any religion nor against any group of persons: the only requirement is to remove obvious religious symbols when on the job.

CFIC claims to value critical thinking in addition to secularism. What a bad joke. By rejecting Bill 21, the CFIC article manifests a total lack of critical acumen while offering its support to religious fanatics. We all know that religious fundamentalists, and Islamists in particular, have targeted secularism, especially republican secularism, in their campaign to impose their ideology, and that many so-called leftists have been duped by this strategy. The CFIC article capitulates to the anti-secular propaganda of many media, most mainstream politicians and regressive pseudo-leftists who in turn just regurgitate the Islamist propaganda against republican secularism.

What arguments does CFIC offer to justify the unjustifiable? None. Nothing whatsoever. Other than empty clichés such as “diversity,” their only response is slander, spewing gratuitous accusations of “racism” and such. They have nothing more than that to rationalize their irrationality.

The implications are very serious. CFIC’s current attitude is unsurprising given its past behaviour, but it still constitutes a disgusting betrayal of Quebecers in particular and of secularism in general. CFIC’s behaviour in 2013 could perhaps be explained as simple ignorance of the principles of republican secularism (i.e. CFIC’s failure to go beyond mere religious neutrality to include religion-state separation as well), but its current position is far worse than that. CFIC has gone beyond failing to support secularists and is now transmitting slanderous anti-secular propaganda. The conflation of race and religion is particularly inexcusable.

The current CAQ government of Quebec (unlike the PQ government in 2013-2014) is in a sufficiently strong position that it will in all probability succeed in passing Draft Bill 21 into law. But history will recall the odious betrayal by Canadian organizations outside Quebec, such as CFIC, who reviled the very cause they claimed to espouse.


Correction 2019-05-13: “public institutions” replaced by “civic institutions” for clarity


Next blog: Six Pseudo-Arguments of Antisecularists

One thought on “CFI Canada Rejects Secularism—Again”

  1. Thank God somebody in Canada has enough sense to understand the current threat to secularism. Well intended ‘progressives’ are the useful idiots of those who have a grand religious agenda. Pointing this out results in accusations of intolerance which border on absurdity. Keep up the good work!

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