Religious freedom benefits everyone

But hard secularism and the marginalization of some Canadians are reducing our deep pluralism and chipping away at our freedoms

Religious freedom benefits everyoneIt’s a safe bet that Asia Bibi – a Christian woman recently acquitted of blasphemy charges in Pakistan but still facing mob violence – would say religious freedom makes Canada a better country. Indeed, it’s because Canada enjoys religious freedom that this country may even grant her asylum. Chances are that Muslim Rohingyas fleeing Burma or…

Religion helped defeat the first Catholic U.S. presidential contender

Al Smith fell prey to the three Ps – prohibition, prejudice and prosperity – in 1928

Religion helped defeat the first Catholic U.S. presidential contenderWhen John F. Kennedy was running for the U.S. presidency in 1960, the ghost of Al Smith hung over public discussion of the campaign. Smith, a New York Catholic, had been soundly beaten in the general election of 1928. And his defeat generated the conventional wisdom that no Catholic could be elected to the presidency.…

The same truths are part of every religious and philosophical tradition

Each of us needs to be true to our mission if we’re to be effective agents of universal change

The same truths are part of every religious and philosophical traditionReligion can provide guiding principles for a meaningful life, yet few concepts have been more divisive in human history. Seeing the tensions of the first half of the 20th century, Mohandas K. Gandhi, a deeply spiritual man, came to the following conclusion: “One should accept the faith into which one was born, but seek always…

A spiritual leadership grounded in reality

Fostering collaboration rather than conflict, the Aga Khan builds bridges between people, religions and cultures to help the world’s most vulnerable

A spiritual leadership grounded in realityWhen your last name is Arab and you’re not a Muslim or terrorist, you defy a few Islamophobic stereotypes yourself. I’m Arab in name, but my father’s religion is Maronite Catholic – an early branch of the Roman Catholic Church. I was brought up Roman Catholic and indoctrinated in papal infallibility. So the idea of…

Make room for religious diversity in the workplace

Banning Quebec frontline civil servants from wearing religious symbols would show obstinate and dangerous secularism

Banning Quebec frontline civil servants from wearing religious symbols, as premier-designate François Legault intends to do, would be socially regressive. Imposing this kind of flinty and obstinate secularism squashes the very diversity most politicians claim to value and support. It’s also out of step with the growing awareness among the business community that religious diversity…

Canada’s multiculturalism model stands the test

But we need to avoid repeating the mistakes so common in western Europe when it comes to immigration

Canada’s multiculturalism model stands the testCanada’s multiculturalism policy came together largely in response to the strong separatist movement that took hold in Quebec during the 1970s. Those were the days of the firebrand Réne Lévesque and the extreme Rose brothers, Paul and Jacques. Pierre Trudeau’s Liberal government developed its multiculturalism policy to demonstrate that all races, religions and ethnic groups…

Humans are not designed to stagnate

Standing still only causes us to move backward

Humans are not designed to stagnate“Do not be afraid of improving slowly. Be afraid of standing still,” popular Zen master Leo Babauta tells us. Many in our society believe that there’s a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and once we reach it, life becomes easy. Others believe that “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” We’re…

A commitment to diversity must include room for faith

Religious and faith communities are among the most racially and ethnically diverse parts of Canadian society

A commitment to diversity must include room for faithDepending on political preference, most Canadians would likely agree that diversity is our strength or is a product of our strength. Regardless of the preferred permutation, those views recognize diversity as a central feature of Canadian society. That’s all well and good, but what does that commitment to diversity really mean? A quick scan of…

Waiting for enlightenment in fundamentalist Islamic law

Religious authorities still hold on to their power, insisting that completely outdated concepts must stay

Waiting for enlightenment in fundamentalist Islamic lawShariah law is based on the Qur’an and the Hadith, the collections of sayings attributed to Mohammed. Islamic fundamentalists believe that Shariah courts should decide virtually all disputes, based on that law. Such courts are a fixture in Islamic countries, such as Pakistan and Afghanistan. Some fundamentalists even want to see them established in North…

Stripping religion from the public square in the name of diversity

Canada's universities once proudly proclaimed links to faith. But their mottos and intentions have been dangerously watered down

Stripping religion from the public square in the name of diversityWhen I was a younger man, back when Lester Pearson was prime minister and Pluto was still a planet, I attended the University of Saskatchewan. It had a very simple coat of arms: three wheat sheaves and an open book whose pages displayed the motto “Deo et Patriae” – “For God and Country.” Years later,…
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