COLUMN: Agar – The faith bigots

- January 10th, 2012

Let’s let religion out of the closet

by Jerry Agar

Is it wrong to say it’s OK for gays to be gay, but they should keep it behind closed doors, in the closet, so they don’t make anybody uncomfortable?

Is it wrong to say it’s OK for a white woman to marry a black man, but they should stay indoors so as not to upset people?

Is it wrong to say it’s OK for people to follow their religion, but they should hide it indoors and keep out of public life?

How have we arrived at a point where the only one of those questions answered with a “yes” is the last one?

I don’t care if you are gay, neither do most Canadians. Trying to stuff gays back in the closet is bigotry.

Anyone who hates multi-racial couples is a bigot.

Re-filling the closet with religious people is also bigotry.

Yet we hear it all the time. “Religion is fine, but it doesn’t belong in the schools or at city hall.” Meaning religion is not fine, but something dirty and undesirable.

Bigotry.

The Globe and Mail attacked Saskatchewan for making private, faith-based schools eligible for public money.

They write, “With the province becoming a destination for immigrants from all over the world, it has an opportunity to build public schools that will bring people together. Instead, the effect will be to emphasize separateness.” Their definition of inclusiveness is to emphasize language, food, art and new sources of creativity.

That is all well and good, but religion is as important, or more important, to many people, and we are supposed to have religious freedom in this country.

How is anyone hurt by religious schools? Religious people are not so stupid as to only teach religion. We all care too much about our children’s future to ignore the basics.

Toronto has an Africentric school. I am OK with that — anything that gets young black males to stay in school is a good thing.

The left is OK with it, because it is for black kids — a minority.

But the left doesn’t see religion as a protected category.

Ray Pennings of Cardus, an independent policy institute, says religion generates: “A civic oxygen on which Canadian social ecology relies.

“The Canadian Centre for Philanthropy calculates that the 32% of Canadians who are religiously active contribute 65% of direct charitable donations.” He addressed the danger of excluding religion in a way people concerned with human rights and empowerment of the individual should understand. “If public, political language can only exclude God, we are not just preventing believers from speaking about their faith. We are denying them the right to speak for themselves.”

And why should politicians leave their religion at the front door?

Who is hurt if one councillor is Muslim, another Jewish or Christian? Each brings his or her moral beliefs to bear on decision making whether they do it aloud or not.

So why push their reality into the closet?

Bigotry of any kind cheapens society.

Gays kicked the closet door open. Civil rights were gained by marching, speaking out and demonstrating.

Prayer is good, but religious people in Canada are going to have to start kicking a few closet doors open themselves.

No one should be allowed to feel comfortable in their public bigotry.

— Agar is the 9 a.m. to noon host on Newstalk 1010

Categories: Contributor Columns

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1 comment

  1. Derek says:

    Brian, you are comparing apples and oranges, and your analogy does not work. Gays make no positive claim on society, only that they be permitted in public life. Religious bigots are different. They want to enforce their views on others. One fits within individual freedom and the other opposes it. One makes no claim regarding the behaviour of others, where the other does.

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