DIE– diversity, inclusion and equity – has reached a new milestone. Canada’s military chaplains have been banned from wearing traditional religious symbols or saying prayers at public ceremonies.
Canadian Forces Chaplain-General Guy Belisle explained the rationale in an October 11 directive to the military.
“While the dimension of prayer may occupy a significant place for some of our members, we do not all pray in the same way; for some, prayer does not play a role in their lives,” he wrote.
Another stated reason was the potential offense taken by the indigenous and sexual minorities.
“Therefore, it is essential for chaplains to adopt a sensitive and inclusive approach when publicly addressing military members,” explained Gen. Belisle.
It is no secret that left-wing political movements are uncomfortable with religion. The notion that people can believe there is a Supreme Being in the universe who wishes humans to behave in certain ways clashes with the leftist doctrine that everything must be determined by economic class interests. No wonder then that Lenin, Stalin, and Mao Zedong murdered hundreds of thousands of priests, nuns, rabbis, imams, and ministers and spent decades trying to eradicate religions in the Soviet Union and China.
Progressive forces in North America do not need to resort to such harsh methods in their campaigns against religious faith. They have courts, bureaucrats, and “human rights” tribunals to do their work for them.
Their chief weapon is the argument from inclusion and their formula is quite simple: if most people agree about something being done and one, or a few, disagree about doing it, then that something should not be done.
If, for example, a city council wishes to open a meeting with a Christian prayer and someone in the audience objects, some court will rule that this discriminates against people of other religions. If the council tries to substitute a nondenominational prayer, one invoking no particular deity, that too will be forbidden, on the grounds that some voters are atheists.
The desired effect is to create a naked public square, one that has no room for faith outside of the place of worship or the home. Though section 2 of our constitution is supposed to guarantee freedom of religion, every time religious freedoms clash with other interests, religion loses.
An excellent example of this is the case of the Delta Hospice in British Columbia dedicated to palliative treatment. When the provincial government directed them to allow their patients to be euthanized, the board tried to argue that their Christian faith told them to care for the dying and not kill them. The result was an end to government funding, an end to their right to tend the terminally ill, and eviction from their premises.
When the government or its functionaries in the armed forces forbids the expression of religious faith it is eroding social ties that bind Canadians together. When they try to create a public life for the nation that is devoid of religion, they forget that churches, temples, mosques, and synagogues are engines of pro-social values. They are already out there on the streets, manning food banks, welcoming refugees, operating homeless shelters, visiting the lonely, providing assisted-living for the elderly and teaching immigrants how to speak English.
We are all the poorer if our elites forget that our national anthem asks God to keep our land – already one of the most diverse, inclusive, and equitable on the planet – glorious and free.
Gerry Bowler is a Senior Fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.