Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Religious symbols part 2 . . .

I am genuinely at a loss to understand how people imagine that the proposed new legislation in Quebec which seeks to restrict the personal expression of government employees can be believable sold as 'secularization.' Here is the thing - if you believe that restricting the religious expressions of government employees contributes to the secularization of the state, you must necessarily believe the converse argument, to wit, that allowing these people to express their religious views through the wearing of symbolic religious items necessarily contributes to the opposite of secularization. In other words, you must believe that on the spectrum between a theocracy and an entirely secular state, the wearing of religious symbols in itself pushes a state further toward theocracy. But this is not even vaguely believable claim. If I send my daughter to school and her teacher wears a hijab, neither she nor I could possibly see this as the state promoting, advocating, or embracing a particular religious outlook. Even my daughter, at the tender age of nine, understand that the wearing of a hijab is a personal expression of religious belief. The state itself is not, in any meaningful way, made more secular if a government employee is restricted from donning religious garb and, conversely, a state is not made more of a theocracy if such people wear such symbols.

As far as I am concerned, the entire matter is as simply as that. The secular state is simply one that does not advocate a particular religious position. Though much of our traditional legal system has roots in certain Judeo-Christian customs and conventions, one might argue that we can more or less create and entirely secular state apparatus. But I see no argument that such a cause is helped or promoted by the restriction of purely symbolic clothing.

Conversely, within a predominately Christian population, I do see that a substantive argument that efforts to restrict religious symbols will inevitably target particular religions or beliefs. Overall, I continue to see no arguments that these proposed restrictions will contribute to secularization in any way. Instead, I have heard people throw around unsubstantiated assertions much like the religious believers that they are trying to restrict do in religious and philosophical arguments.


UU4077 said...

This is strictly religious intolerance by the Quebec government - possibly even racism. They have no intention of removing the cross from the Quebec National Assembly.

Some Old Guy said...

I am now blissfully retired from the civil service. I have spent 36 years of my life working for the federal government and for the provincial government.

Retirement is somewhat akin to being released from slavery.

My employers - both federal and provincial, and parties of all of the colours in the spectrum - all of them have all treated their employees like slaves, and like whipping dogs for their own political purposes.

I can't remember an election that was not preceded by an official warning that any political activism by any employee would not be seen as high treason and punished accordingly.

And it is a small step from political affiliation to religious affiliation.

It may come as a revelation to the public at large that restrictions are put on civil servants. But it is old news to civil servants. Now, whether it is a good thing or a bad thing to have government employees subject to such restrictions is for the public to decide.

Myself, I could care less. Never have. My political and my religious views were my own. If I wanted to wear a turban, a hijab, a star of david, an orange suit with a Conservative lapel pin, and a cross, all at the same time, I was free to do so.

Just not on company time.