So I am becoming more and more politically active these days, along the lines of I am tired of complaining about stupid shit so its time to get active and do something about it.

Anyhow I thought that I should look up the Canadian Constitution and Canada's Charter of rights and freedoms. Just so I could really know as a Canadian where my rights and freedoms fall.

They read as follows...

Fundamental freedoms
2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:

(a) freedom of conscience and religion;
(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
(c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
(d) freedom of association.

Pretty basic stuff however I was intrigued by the "freedom of conscience" line, having never heard that before.

To be honest I am not sure what "Freedom of conscience" really is so over to Wikipedia I go and... it brings me this.

"Freedom of thought (also called freedom of conscience and freedom of ideas) is the freedom of an individual to hold or consider a fact, viewpoint, or thought, independent of others' viewpoints. It is closely related to, yet distinct from, the concept of freedom of expression."

Then while jumping to the Wikipedia entry on Canadian Charter of rights and freedoms I find...

Freedom of conscience

In addition to freedom of religion, section 2(a) also guarantees freedom of conscience. Professor Peter Hogg speculated this would include a right to atheism, despite the preamble to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which recognizes the "supremacy of God."

Interesting stuff especially about how it was almost left out of the Charter.

Jean Chrétien, who was the attorney general during negotiations of the Charter, later recalled in his memoirs that freedom of conscience was nearly excluded from the Charter. The federal and provincial negotiators found the right too difficult to define, and Chrétien eventually agreed to remove it. A legal advisor for the federal government, Pierre Genest, then kicked Chrétien's chair, prompting Chrétien to joke, "I guess we leave it in. Trudeau's spy just kicked me in the ass."

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Funny story. Good that it was left in, but even if "freedom of conscience" was left out atheism could still be protected.

From Wikipedia:
"A religion is an organized approach to human spirituality which usually encompasses a set of narratives, symbols, beliefs and practices, often with a supernatural or transcendent quality, that give meaning to the practitioner's experiences of life through reference to a higher power or truth. It may be expressed through prayer, ritual, meditation, music and art, among other things."

Atheism is a organized set of structured belief, described through symbols (the red A), beliefs (that there is no dude in the clouds) and practices (to basically do what thou wilt) that give meaning to our life (for *today* since there is no way of knowing if we will be here tomorrow, and because we won't be cast into a lake of fire for choosing to not/do something) The truth is evident for us to experience through reference to our bodies and our connections with others and other things, and it is expressed through our thoughts and actions (there is lots of music and art with atheist sentiments in it too)

Food for thought
"The Canadian scholar of comparative religion Wilfred Cantwell Smith argued that religion, rather than being a universally valid category as is generally supposed, is a peculiarly European concept of comparatively recent origin. His work has been enlarged upon by E.J. Sharpe, C.F. Keyes, and Timothy Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald especially notes in The Ideology of Religious Studies that the concept of religion as a study irreducible to sociology, history, etc., is a fallacy caused by a desire to protect the transcendent ideals of world cultures. He claims that writers cannot define a single concept called "religion" that applies to all cultures, because all definitions of religion have the dual effect of setting up an imaginary ideal onto which real practices are merely mapped, and serializing individual identity to include a separate aspect called "religion." In short, "there is no coherent non-theological theoretical basis for the study of religion as a separate academic discipline." The implication of Smith's and Fitzgerald's work is that religion, rather than being a special category which can be criticized or praised as a group, is merely one type of ideology, alongside humanism, Marxism, nationalism and so forth."
I was recently rereading the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and right smack at the top is this drivel: "Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law". (Well the god part is drivel anyway.)

I felt compelled to write something on da nexus. I see you have preempted me. Great post!

Perhaps we Canadians should exercise our right to freedoms and start a movement to banish god from our Charter (and national anthem for that matter). But that would be immediately trumped by our right to be oh so... laissez-faire. :-)




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