I know how this sounds to some but what is happening in Quebec is a Karl Marx wet dream. Kill God. All bow to the new god. I believe Marx said his objective in life was to dethrone God. Or as Leggo has put it, "Quebec has only one god (no god) and there shall be no other god before it." The weird thing is that Leggo's religion has no moral code other than that there shall be no moral code. Not sure that ends well. Even more interesting is that Leggo really has no idea that he's doing that. He just knows that Quebeckers don't trust those, you know, autres.

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All the back and forth arguing I see in the below comments ignore how basic this “issue” really is.

It boils down to this: a woman was removed from her job as a elementary teacher for wearing a non-offensive piece of clothing. Call it a hijab, a scarf, whatever. It has no bearing on her job or her ability to teach children.

I would ask all these defenders of the Quebec position what exactly makes that acceptable in this day and age? In this so called progressive country? How can we sit here and judge China for various acts, while we accept (and some even encourage) this blatant discrimination in our own backyard.

All these excuses about the Quebec history and culture are just that: excuses. Justify it in your own mind all you want….but to this western Canadian you all look incredibly pathetic.

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I thought you meant "Catholicism", but no, you actually hauled out the ol' "Secularism is just another religion" bit for another walk in the fresh air.

Sorry, buddy, but "secularism is another religion", the way "not collecting stamps" is "another hobby".

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There is just so much wrong in this article it is hard to find anything that follows from reason.

First, the article frames everything in the form of "identity". I do not "identify" as an atheist. I did not join a group of atheists who have a common set of beliefs. Do you identify as an "aphilatelist" simply because you don't collect stamps? Is "aphilately" a hobby? I don't have a favorite hockey team; does that automatically make me a fan of the "non-team"? Simply defining all people who aren't in some other group as itself a group, slapping a label on it, and saying they define an "identity group" is absurd on its face.

Then you jump from gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation "identities" and conclude by analogy the same considerations apply to religious "identity". Really? You can't see a difference? Are gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientations beliefs? Can we just claim than anybody and any topic falling prey to identity groupism is the same? Politically parties are literal groups and people identify politically. Can we then use our public servant positions to promote our political leanings and preferred parties?

This is not an issue for these other traits. You can't "promote" people into becoming other ethnicities. Even then, if you do use your public office to actively promote a sexual orientation or ethnicity that can get you in trouble as well. You can promote the support of, or acceptance of, everybody of every gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or religion, but you can't promote just one. The moratorium is based on the conflict of interest of using public office as a recruitment tool to promote and recruit others to your personal beliefs.

That is the fundamental issue here. Can you use your government position to promote a belief system, whether it be political, religious, moral, or philosophical. Gender isn't a belief system. Ethnicity is not a belief system. Sexual orientation is not a belief system. Eye colour is not a belief system. These are descriptive traits about people; they are not a matter of belief or will. I can't choose to be tall, or a different race, or even gender (regardless of whether you define it physically or psychological identity -- it's not a matter of choice).

Groupish behaviour is fundamentally a bad thing. It evokes ingroup/outgroup behaviour (aka, tribalism) which creates hatred and leads to discrimination and violence. This is why identity politics is so harmful. The framework of "identity" is wrong-headed and dangerous to begin with. Nobody should care how you identify, or if you identify as anything. That is the whole point of a liberal, multicultural society. What we seek to avoid is *unfair* discrimination against people because of either category. We don't *unfairly* discriminate based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or religious membership, or anything that is irrelevant to the task at hand.

That doesn't mean we never discriminate at all. Qualifications and competence at a job is a fair discrimination. We fairly discriminate based on behaviour and conduct, even jailing people who behave in ways that are harmful to others.

We even fairly discriminate based on religious beliefs. Some beliefs include things that harm others, including treatment of non-believers or believers in other systems, or the treatment of animals, or children. We don't unfairly discriminate based on membership in a given religion, but we do fairly discriminate based on the carrying out of a specific belief if it violates or more core societal principles of doing no harm and balancing of rights.

This is where Bill 21 plays out. It is fair or unfair discrimination to keep pubic servants from using their office to promote their religion, and what counts as promoting? We have little debate if their religious practice is, say, killing an animal or harming another person. We don't say that it is discriminatory to stop them from doing that. That is fair discrimination because it interferes in the rights of others.

What about religious advertisement and promotion, intended or inadvertent? If that involves wearing religious symbols, is it fair to discriminate against people carrying out that practice at work the same as we can fairly discriminate against other beliefs? Is there a conflict of interest? Do the public have the right not to be promoted a certain belief system by a public servant?

This is the grey zone. Nobody is saying a person can't be a Muslim and work at these jobs. The issue is whether they can advertise Islam while working on the job. Or, other religions advertising their beliefs. When the religious belief itself involves advertising the religion, that can be a problem. We'd definitely say you can't pull out a Bible and start trying to convert patients or people in line for their passport. Can you put it on a pin? Can you put in how you wear your hair?

This is clearly a grey zone and it is up for reasonable debate. Calling people names doesn't work and doesn't get around it. Heck, the article even describes this distancing from religious beliefs in the public sphere as basic principles of secularism. If that's the case, then it is in direct contradiction to the opening statements that Bill 21 is "a blatant attempt to stamp out some forms of religious identity". Which is it? Is it trying to stamp out just some forms of religion, or is it a basic principle of secularism. You can't make both claims. The former just seems like trying to poison the well, using insults and offense as arguments instead of actually addressing the issue of the conflict of interest.

Similarly, the article confuses the "public sphere" with public office. You can speak in public about religion all you want. That is a fundamental human right and built into the Charter. The question is whether it is a conflict of interest for people to use public office to do it, especially when the public has no other option but to seek out the service they need at that pubic office.

This is a complex issue, and I don't think poorly framing it, declaring grey areas as "blatant", self-contradictions, using false equivalencies, or using demagoguery of "offensive" to avoid addressing the actual conflict of interest issue at hand are helpful.

If you want to have a real conversation and debate about it, start by steelmanning your opponents views, not by strawmanning them. I don't have a specific opinion one way or the other on Bill 21 because I see it is a grey area at the intersection of very important principles of fairness. But I do recognize that this article is filled with nonsense. I don't doubt the authors believe it, but therein lies the problem that when either side won't even try to look at the framing and arguments of those who disagree, then we can't ever resolve problems.

In an ideal world, that is the sort of public discourse we'd have and the press would be a leading facilitator of debate, not ideologically bound to one framing and strawman caricature of their opponents. We clearly do not live in that world. But some of us will keep trying. It all starts with listening.

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Clearly a work of moody madness here.

One of the sure signs that reason is a cork bobbing and thrashing about on sea swells of emotion is the symptom of distortion and over-the-top rhetoric.

Apparently we are all supposed to be offended by the firing of a teacher for "the supposed sin of expressing her religious identity".

Given that Bill 21 has been the law in Quebec since June 2019, presumably the teacher knew that she was voluntarily breaking the law. So there should be no surprise here, no claims of innocence regarding the choices involved. Presumably the teacher was wilfully breaking the law to make a point, a political point about a political matter and thus a conflict over the disposition of political power in a democratic society.

There is much to unpack here, but one wonders if debate is even relevant in the face of such blind religious fervour!

For example, the authors rail against the "state's faith" and that Bill 21 is a "blatant attempt to stamp out" certain religious identities, as well as "the elimination and imposition of religious identity by the state". These are clearly distortions.

The democratic state, duly elected has promulgated a law, popular with a majority of Quebecers, which says that no one can work for and represent the state and promote personal religious affiliation through the wearing of religious symbols. There is no law against one wearing religious symbols or practicing one's religious beliefs outside the context of such employment. Nevertheless the fervour of distortion continues along such lines throughout this piece.

If rather than explicit religious symbols, we were to take explicit political symbols, would it be ok for a teacher to wear their explicit political affiliations in the classroom, or a cop pulling you over, or a judge leaning into a decision, to promote their personal political beliefs?

And that's the essential point, should people in positions of power (which the state provides) over others be able to use those positions of power to promote their personal beliefs.

There is no "stamping out of religious identity" here. There is simply the channeling of the expression of that identity into particular non-governmental contexts. The problem, in a democratic, pluralistic society, is when folks have personal beliefs which claim universal status and this is precisely the claim religions often make upon their adherents, and thus the long historical conflict with democratic institutions.

So my suggestion to the authors, build your little shrine somewhere, heave sighs of divine passion in the direction of your god, just leave the kids alone. Or else you may fall into the distorted moral delirium of those who claim divine moral authority from their pulpits while harbouring gangs of pedophile priests within their unholy sanctums!

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Her board did not fire the teacher. She has been reassigned to write curriculum for the board on multicultural acceptance in the classroom.

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Laicite wouldn't even be a concept that the chattering classes obsess over if the state wasn't such a large and overwhelming force in Quebec and France.

In the Anglophone world the state just doesn't occupy the overwhelming mind share that it does in the French speaking world.

Of course the francophone world worries about overt religious symbolism by it's civil servant when those civil servants are such an overwhelming part of their society.

Address the huge share of the state, and expectations of that state to provide cradle to grave care, on the francophone world and it will go a long way to solving this issue.

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This is the *only* argument that I have read against this bill that is couched in the religious freedom debate. I have found that most people who are against the bill are anti-religious in one sense or another (see Ad Nausica's comments below for an example). Very few, if any, people are speaking out against this as a matter of religious freedom. I think the reality is that most people do not actually want religion's to have freedom in Canada, we have forgotten the religious struggles that our ancestors (those terrible, horrible colonialists) went through in England and continental Europe that brought them to North American in the first place. We've become all too comfortable in our secular world.

The calls to remove the crucifix are indicative of this reality. People are criticizing the bill because it unfairly seems to target Muslims but does not target Christians. In all actuality it should not be targeting anyone, religion should not be a target for the state period. But these people say taking the crucifix down should be part of the bill to make it fair. To make it fair?!?! This is where rights stand in our society at the moment. Sad.

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Or use another word that pisses off the people of Quebec. Racist. Blame the government all you want but the people of Quebec were apparently hugely in favour of this bill and the party in power is far ahead in popularity if you believe the polls.

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My comment here is about symbols. I am 100% in favour of allowing the hijab in public and work spaces because it exposes the face (much as we were fine with Catholic nuns wearing their habit that covered all but the face). Just as a prospective nun chooses to wear the habit in order to become a nun, I suspect, in Canada, the majority of Muslim women who wear a hijab choose to do so on their own. Seeing the face is critical in all human interactions (please don't bother to squawk about current medical face masks, different issue altogether). On the other hand, I am 100% against the niqab or burka being worn anywhere in Canada. Why? Because they are symbols, symbols of an age old religious system of female oppression. That system promotes repression and treatment (female circumcision for instance) of women that is reprehensible in Canadian society. The burka is a symbol equal to the swastika for the nazis and the white outfit of the KKK. Can you imagine the s---storm that would occur if a dude in an SS nazi uniform walked into a Jewish hospital fund raising meeting and said: Hi, I'd like to join your group. Or, a guy dressed in the white robes and pointed hat of the KKK walked into an NAACP meeting and said: Hi, I'd like to join your group. Well, the burka sends the same sort of message in a nation where women are to be treated as free and equal.

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Glad to see the crucifix brought up. Anytime someone makes a marginally reasonable argument about Quebec's deep history with secularism they never have a coherent response to why there's a giant cross hovering over Montreal or a crucifix in the parliament.

There is an inherent conflict with any of the more conservative religious interpretations and the core values of most western democracies. Specifically, the ease in which many will place women in a "less than" role. This can be sitting in the back, not being permitted to guide worship or being excluded from the business of the church. Pluralism does nothing to combat the structural sexism that comes along with this and therefore remains the inferior solution to secularism.

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