A great Twentieth Century Philosopher, Bertrand Russell, said this: "Religion may in most of its forms be defined as the belief that the gods are on the side of the government."
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It would be difficult to argue that this is absolutely true, in today's world. It is, in fact, only partially true.
It might be completely true were there no migration of peoples toting their religions to continents where other peoples and their religions abide.
But there are, and will continue to be, such migrations.
When such migrations are destined for Canada, the Canadian government endorses a welcoming dynamic that the media refer to as "reasonable accomodation". Of late, reasonable accomodation has included allowing young girls to wear the hijab to school, allowing young boys to wear the kirpan to school, providing prayer rooms for Muslim students and Muslim workers, depending on where said Muslims spend their weekdays. It has also included voting in elections wearing a burqa, even though the wearing of a burqa makes it impossible to identify the wearer.
Such examples of reasonable accomodation are not, per se, good or bad. They have no intrinsinc value, other than "you are welcome here; make yourselves comfortable", and they could be construed as demonstrations of tolerance and democracy. Do not get me wrong here: I am not saying that immigrants should be acculturated rather than accomodated. I am taking no sides at all.
However, such practices turn Bertrand Russell's affirmation on its side, in that now, governements are on the side of all incoming gods.
Why? Possibly because the words "religion" and "belief", which are core to Mr. Russell's thought, mean very little anymore to Canadians.
The French discovered Canada in 1534 and settled Quebec in 1608, where they founded the oldest city in North America. Quebec thus has a 400 year history of Catholicism, grown weaker and weaker in the past 50 years especially. I can't speak for Protestantism, introduced somewhat later on, to other Canadian Provinces settled by the British, as I have never lived elsewhere, so I don't know if religious practice has weakened there too.
I do know that in my lifetime, I have not seen Judaism weaken around me. Judaism is a religion I have seen as self-affirming and strong, if anything.
Not so the religion of the founders here: crucifixes have been taken off the walls of schools, hospitals, courtrooms, police stations, City Hall, and any public edifices they were formerly seen in. Morning prayers have been removed from schools and hospitals. Morning Mass is attended only by the very old. On Sundays, Catholic churches have many more empty pews than full ones. Religious orders (priests, nuns, monks, brothers) are enrolling very few, if none at all...
So, if religion means so little, why would groups form in streets and demonstrate and decry the reasonable accomodations made for those who are arriving? Why would a town like Herouxville, Quebec (around 90 km from where I live) have its citizens decide to "cast out" them that are different by saying things like "if you wear a rag on your head, we don't want you here". Why would their mayor say things like "we're only saying what others don't dare say". Why?
Well, I don't know. But I would venture to opine that when you're a majority, you don't want to become a minority. Thing is, you can't fall asleep for 50 years, then suddenly wake up screaming, and panicking, over some perceived threat.
It happened while you weren't looking: the government now favours incoming gods over indwelling gods because you have not been worshipping your indwelling gods.
Plain and simple.
Live with it.
Of all known institutions, I attend only two: church, in my heart, and school, in yours. Both are subject to demolition. - Lucie Adams, 2007
It is only for poetry to know how many stanzas fit into one caress. - Lucie Adams, 2008