Presentation is loading. Please wait.

Presentation is loading. Please wait.

1 The secular state and religious pluralism METROPOLIS / Ottawa / September 23, 2009 Micheline Milot, Ph.D.

Similar presentations

Presentation on theme: "1 The secular state and religious pluralism METROPOLIS / Ottawa / September 23, 2009 Micheline Milot, Ph.D."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 The secular state and religious pluralism METROPOLIS / Ottawa / September 23, 2009 Micheline Milot, Ph.D.

2 2 OUTLINE Secular governance General characteristics Canadian characteristics Religion in the public sphere Current religious diversity issues Topics of debate Public policy: recognition issues

3 3 1. Secular governance Frequent associations French model Religion confined to private life Individuals must be secular like institutions

4 4 Four principles of secularism Two principles of law Freedom of conscience and religion Equality/non-discrimination Two ways of applying them Neutral state Separation of church and state

5 5 Historical goals Social peace End of systemic discrimination No second-class citizens Being different without being ostracized

6 6 Freedom of conscience and religion Right to believe what one wants to believe Right to express ones beliefs or non-belief Right to change religions or not belong to any …without fear of impediment or reprisal

7 7 Consequences of freedom of conscience Recognition that there are different ideas of what constitutes a good life in a society that accepts pluralism Prevention from being discriminated against on the basis of beliefs In a free and democratic society, people do not believe the way others want them to believe.

8 8 Equality Between people – believers and non-believers alike Between religious traditions Between men and women Political rights independent of religious affiliation or non-affiliation Does not mean uniformity Treating everyone the same can be unfair

9 9 Neutral state: Two dimensions The state respects all ideas of what constitutes a good life (believers and non-believers) Linked to the persons moral dignity The state does not decide which beliefs are normal or acceptable The state has no theological jurisdiction Limits: Actual breach of the rights of others or attack on security, public order or physical integrity

10 10 To what does neutrality apply? The establishment of policies and statutes Institutional regulations Respect for others and their differences Respect for guaranteed rights and freedoms Impartiality of decisions made or services provided by government employees

11 11 Separation of church and state Need to ensure neutrality Independence of the state from faiths and of faiths from the state Political order is free to develop collective standards in the general interest of the population Religion, like any other form of association, is part of common law

12 12 Canada Importance of freedom of conscience and equality Neutrality of the state is paramount No state religion in Canada Preamble to the Constitution (supremacy of God): no meaningful scope = implicit secularism

13 13 2. Religion in the public arena New visibility Integrated into common institutions (not separate institutions) Different perspectives: private life vs. public life Perspectives on culture sometimes based more on community than on individuals

14 14 Reasonable accommodation Compatible with the neutrality of the state Not aimed at changing the general workings of institutions To eliminate indirect discrimination Or to not impede freedom of conscience and freedom of religion

15 15 Public expression of religious affiliation: Debate Fear of communitarianism, which would be detrimental to integration Supposed refusal to share common values Risk of regression and imposition of archaic values (equality of men and women) Consequences of prohibiting the expression of religious affiliation

16 16 Threat to integration? Process of generalizing believers to a community presumed to be closed Presumption that individuals are driven entirely by the standards of the group with which they identify

17 17 Opposing argument Accepting public expression of religious affiliation can prevent withdrawal into a closed community that becomes radical in reaction to the lack of recognition

18 18 Religion = common values? Religion is presumed to have an all-encompassing hold on believers, but… Believers prioritize religious values differently than the secular majority Believers do not reject modern values (apart from some rare exceptions) Identity has many dimensions and draws on a range of values

19 19 Democratic and legal rights: Dangers? By and large, religious expression is lived on modern terms Selecting or distancing oneself from certain standards Diversity within each tradition Personal direction, not a political desire to impose the same standards on all members of society

20 20 Religious signs in government employees Aim: to not exclude common institutions Do not have to choose between religious affiliation and a job Presumption of impartiality

21 21 Limiting factors Do not compromise the effectiveness, security and rights of others These three factors = evaluation of undue constraint on reasonable accommodation

22 22 Equality of men and women at risk? The law prohibits unequal treatment based on sex Equality of men and women is not necessarily compromised by individual expression of religious affiliation Religious patriarchy exists; the state must not attempt to step in and take its place Strengthen awareness of rights

23 23 Real equality Equality of political and legal status for women Equality of resources to live ones life Equality of opportunity (employment, education, justice, health care, housing)

24 24 3. Factors to be considered Distinguish between the fundamental principles of equality and elements that are incidental Interconnection of different forms of inequality (economic, stigmatized groups, etc.) Evaluate the risk of a sense of rejection Initiatives that do not cause harm to others

25 25 Prohibition of the expression of religious affiliation Done through social exclusion Form of discrimination, racism Not all religions have rules on what followers can and cannot eat or wear Forces individuals to renounce (their faith or their social integration) Homogeneousness is an unrealistic measure of unity

26 26 Targets Aim for integration rather than uniformity Remain vigilant in order to prevent discrimination The need for mechanisms to eliminate discrimination is more pressing where there is diversity Be aware of the impact of the customs of the majority and of their adverse effects

Download ppt "1 The secular state and religious pluralism METROPOLIS / Ottawa / September 23, 2009 Micheline Milot, Ph.D."

Similar presentations

Ads by Google