Thursday, December 13, 2007

A Developing Hierarchy of Rights in Canada

Yesterday, the government of Quebec tabled legislation to shore up women's rights in the face of perceived threats from groups whose religious practices are deemed discriminatory. The proposed amendment to Quebec's Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms is in response to a recommendation from the province's Council on the Status of Women, which has expressed concern that women's rights are being undermined in the name of religious freedom. While Christiane Pelchat, president of the Council on the Status of Women, said her group had never sought to create a hierarchy of rights with equality of the sexes at the top, it is apparent that this is what is developing. And not only in this case, but in other cases that have come before courts, legislations and human right commissions across Canada. Religious rights are increasingly being treated as less inviolable than gender or sexual orientation rights in particular, especially when they are expressed in the public arena.

It is becoming increasingly important that there be well-considered and thoughtful discussion and writing done on the expression and defense of religious rights in the Canadian context, beyond the citing and discussion of individual cases. We need to get proactive on this issue rather than reactive, as is the tendency amoung evangelical Christians in particular.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I don't blog often, but pls. let me say first of all that I am thrilled about G. Penner's health report. Secondly, I always appreciate the voice of reason found here.

Just some comments on 'hierarchy of rights' - I have recollection over at least several years of much "well-considered and thoughtful discussion and writings done on the expression and defense of religious rights in the Canadian context", which has also been proactive at various levels and in differing arenas. (beyond the individual cases) What I have seen happening is that no one has appeared to have listened. And I think Christians have tired of this and now are indeed reacting more loudly than ever.

I have to admit that I am greatly disheartened myself, and usually feel like we are on a sinking ship. Trouble is, there is no 'new world' left to go where one can practice their Christian faith in freedom. And I think of our brothers and sisters suffering in other lands that are obviously terribly persecuted, wondering if they ever ‘grow weary’. We can look and see what is coming our way.

It's a shame Canada's legal Christians can't get together something like the Alliance Defense Fund in the U.S.

How far are we to take the fight when discussions no longer work?