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The Secular Tyranny Of Quebec

At First Things, Mathew Frost gives us a heads-up about a shockingly illiberal bill on its way to becoming law in Quebec. Excerpt:

The Province of Quebec is planning to pass a law which would ban public employees from wearing religious symbols, including such things as turbans, crucifixes, hijabs, and kippas. And it’s not just for government representatives: it would apply to all public institutions, including schools and hospitals. That’s right: teachers, doctors, and nurses, among numerous other workers, would all be forbidden from wearing religious symbols on the job. Don’t like it? Find another job.

It’s all part of the proposed “Charter of Quebec Values.” Indeed, Premier Pauline Marois says the plan reflects “universal” values and will bring Quebecers together.

Shockingly, some members of the “universal” human race have disagreed that it’s their values on display here. The philosopher Charles Taylor (who once oversaw the province’s commission on the accommodation of minorities) expressed disbelief at the announcement. “It’s unprecedented,” he told Radio-Canada. “This will feed an attitude of exclusion,” he said, calling it something more akin to “Putin’s Russia” than Canada.

Except in Putin’s Russia, it is still legal to wear religious garb.

The radicalism of this move is startling. No Orthodox Jewish man, no traditionally observant Muslim woman, no Sikh male, and some Christians, could work in the public sector in Quebec without severely compromising their conscience. What does it matter to Quebecois secularists that the Jew wears a kippa, and so forth? What is the problem with it?

The problem with it is the creeping, totalitarian intolerance of secularists today. “Tolerance” is the Orwellian word they use to increase their hegemony and power over those who persist in holding on to their irritating religions. And don’t think that this is an edict issued from Quebecois political elites, imposed on an unwilling populace. An astonishing 58 percent of Quebecois support the proposed law. Read:

“If you define a nation by social cohesiveness, then Quebec is a true nation,” said Forum Research President Lorne Bozinoff. “They resemble the Swiss in their eagerness to protect their, forgive the term, historic social monoculture. Canadians at large, used to years of immigration, don’t understand this, but Quebec is always in mortal fear for its soul.”

So, to protect its “soul,” Quebec believes it has to make its Jews, Sikhs, Muslims, and Christians put their own souls, literally, in peril. We Americans have a First Amendment to protect us, thank God, but the impulse to censure and marginalize religious believers will go as far as it possibly can in this country in the decades to come.

Always remember the Law Of Merited Impossibility: It will never happen, and when it does, you people will deserve it. 

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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