Canadian Charter Harms Religious Freedom
Quebec’s Charter Restricts Religious Freedoms: Considered Unconstitutional
Quebec cited gender equality as the foundation for its proposed charter to restrict all government employees from wearing symbols of their respective faiths while on the job. Some religious symbols that would be unlawful for all employees that bill hours to government agencies that receive tax monies include hijabs, kippas, turbans, and crucifixes.
Freedom of Religion and Gender Equality
Parties that are advocates for the proposed charter in Canada have made claims that the charter would further the feminist movement. Others argue that this stance is misogynistic (and counterintuitive) at worst and nonsensical at best. Many women of Muslim and Orthodox Jewish faiths independently choose to dress modestly and cover their hair when practicing their respective faiths. Modest dress and covering of hair was largely rooted in a pro-feminist philosophy in which women were to not to be objectified.
Pandering Religious Freedoms
The Shafia murder trial in which an Muslim man from Montreal was sentenced to life in prison after murdering his first wife and three daughters allegedly due to their refusal to wear headscarves, refusal to cease dating, and refusal to regularly attend school was repeatedly used to support the argument that religious symbols and doctrines are used for violence against women. Should the backbone of religious freedoms and policy in Canada be based on a bizarre quadruple murder? In other words, should policy surrounding religion pander to the lowest common denominator in any given society?
Celebration of Different Religions
The Universal Life Church takes a strong stance that different religions should be celebrated. Religious symbols such as hijabs are not a detriment to individuals or society as a whole. The freedoms offered by Canada have attracted a rich and culturally diverse population. Furthermore, people have the right to work in jobs that do not restrict their inherent rights to practice religion in the form of wearing items that are symbolic to individual faiths.
Legal and Moral Ramifications
The larger legal issue behind the proposed charter to ban religious symbols worn by government workers while on the job is Canadian human rights on a larger scale. Currently, the charter would be a clear violation of Canada’s Notwithstanding Clause. However, passing the charter could open new legal channels that restrict religion in different contexts. Morally, placing substantial limitations on the right to practice religion in a reasonable manner does not seem right.
Do that which is Right
The Universal Life Church believes that it is important to do what is right, regardless of political pressures or alternative agendas. Diversity and symbolism of different faiths should be celebrated, and individuals should not have their freedoms restricted.