Any headline in the form of a question can be dismissed with the simplest answer (which is also typically no).
Case in point, a Victoria Times-Columnist blog asks “Has religion become a dirty word?“
It argues that Victoria, BC, with a non-religious population of 51% according to Statistics Canada’s 2011 National Household Survey and potentially as high as 64% from the 2013 BCHA poll, has become anti-religious. Such is the secular identity that the religious are made to feel “sheepish” and ashamed of their habit.
Yet without citing any specific evidence of wide-spread anti-religious hate crimes* or even anecdotes of real religious persecution, I have to call bullshit.
Religion has simply lost its place of privilege. One is not assumed to be good just because they are religious. It’s little more than a curious quirk of a shrinking portion of the population.
While some anti-theists cheer for the day when religion is a dirty word, this is the future I more hope for: where religion is a private matter and people don’t feel entitled to force their beliefs onto others.
Victoria isn’t hostile to religion, it has become indifferent to it.
*I did briefly look for whether I could find a break down of the number of religious hate crimes by city to compare whether secular Victoria and Vancouver showed a different rate than other, more religious cities, but the data isn’t nicely collected and the incident rate is fairly low. Only a few hundred hate crimes are reported each year across the entire country and only a fraction of those target religion (most are racial). It would be hard therefore, to detect a meaningful trend. Nevertheless, we should be glad those numbers are small. I may still look into this question for a future post.
Stephen Harper and Canada’s Conservative government received rare praise from people in my social media circle for his quick decisions to recall Canada’s ambassador to Russia in condemnation for their occupation of The Crimea in Ukraine.
Soon after, other G-8 countries agreed to similar extents and decided to revert to a G-7 membership until Russia smartness up and stops leading the world down a similar folly to the war whose 100th anniversary is upon us.
The response isn’t uniformly positive to Canada’s actions. Two former Canadian diplomats have already condemned Harper’s moves as merely symbolic and likewise note the lack of international approach of the government that failed to win a seat on the UN Security Council in 2010.
Canada, which now has but a handful of peacekeepers, has been largely absent on the world stage (save for a new fervent commitment to Israel) lately.
I think I have to agree with the ex-diplomats that if Canada wants to support Ukraine, it needs to be at the table and working with international organizations. Unfortunately, Russia’s Security Council veto makes UN action unlikely; however, that does not make diplomacy an unworthy goal.
With luck NATO, the European Union, and the new Ukrainian government can work toward a peaceful resolution which enables Ukraine and the Crimea the ability to democratically determine their own fate.