Should we limit the display of religious symbols in the public sphere?
by rachel hebert on September 9, 2013 - 10:23pm
Should we limit the display of religious symbols in the public sphere? This question has brought many debates as the Quebec Party tries to implement the Charter of Quebec Values that would ban the right for workers in the public sector to wear religious symbols such as turbans, hijabs, crucifixes, etc. The Quebec Party believes that this charter will favor equality and secularism. It is, according to them, a continuation of the changes that occurred during the Quiet Revolution allowing Quebec citizens the right to live in a society not governed by the Catholic Church. This charter is part of a modernization process in moving forward for a more unified Quebec that is not influenced by any religion. However, the ones that are against claim that it would not respect the rights and freedoms guaranteed to all Canadian citizens. Also, Canada is a multiculturalism society; therefore, immigrants should be welcomed in the country by acquiring the same rights and freedoms as the rest of the population. They should not have to get rid of a part of their heritage, their religion, if it does not harm the rest of the population.
Fundamentally, this issue brings up many ethical principles as well as values. In fact, it has to take into consideration the Golden Rule since the people against the charter acknowledge the fact that they would not want people to limit their freedom, so they do not limit the freedom of others. Also, the principle of fidelity has to be applied because some people show fidelity towards their religion and heritage. Furthermore, the principle of conservatism states that society is working fine just the way it is and it does not need to change. In addition, the values that support this view are faith, fairness, fidelity, freedom of belief, individual freedom, tolerance, and tradition. However, the ones in favor of this charter founded their judgement on the values of fairness, equality of opportunity, non-interference, and order, as well as on the principle of equality since everyone should be treated the same, without any particular “permissions” to wear different religious symbols.
In my opinion, the strongest side is the one against the charter because it takes into consideration the fundamental freedoms, the fact that everyone has different opinions, and that conformity is not always possible. Also, as Canada is a multicultural society, it does not make sense to limit the population’s freedom since the country is supposed to accept, to a certain degree, cultural differences if it does not interfere with the rest of the population’s safety. It is all part of reasonable accommodations. Furthermore, banning the display of religious symbols in the public sector also includes Christianity symbols which is a big part of the cultural background and history of the society. Additionally, wanting to ban religious symbols will mostly affect immigrants since they practice more their religion. Not allowing them to display their belief is in a way promoting the fact that the society does not want them to be part of the community.
Gallant, Jacques. "Quebec Charter Suggests Canada has Work to do." Toronto StarSep 07 2013. ProQuest. Web. 9 Sep. 2013.