Nov 202012

Address by Minister Baird at Religious Liberty Dinner

May 24, 2012 – Washington, D.C.

Check Against Delivery

It is a real pleasure to be part of this year’s Religious Liberty Dinner.

This is a marquee event on the calendar for those who care about human rights and, especially, freedom of religion.

So I would like to thank the organizers and their team for the invitation to be a part of tonight.

I love being here in Washington.

This is a capital city that embodies the hopes and aspirations of a truly great nation—even in times of political gridlock.

The United States, of course, is a country built on the very notion of religious freedom. Continue reading »

Oct 212012

I grew up in rural Alberta. The sort of community where my mom once had to sit me down and explain that Catholics were real Christians, and that my friends and their parents were mistaken. But, I haven’t been to church since my early teens.

So visiting Southminster-Steinhauer United Church with four other atheists last Sunday was a bit of a shock to the system. When we arrived, Rev. Charles Bidwell sat down with us to answer questions we had about the church and what to expect. The shock started when he mentioned (within hearing distance of other church members) that he considers himself an atheist Christian. And then went on to explain that within the church, Jesus is considered someone who had some useful things to say, and wasn’t related to God (if there is a god) in any way. I expected that it would be one thing to have that conversation in limited company, but that the gathering (service) and the congregants in general would be more traditionally Christian.

They weren’t. Continue reading »

Jun 062010

Re: The Role of Religion in Secular Society. Recently one of our members responded to Margaret Somervile’s article which was published in the Edmonton Journal :

If you’ve paid any attention to the media over the last week — for instance, regarding whether the G8 “maternal and infant health initiative” should include abortion, or The Current’s and The National’s programs on CBC that focused on Marci McDonald’s new book, The Armageddon Factor, that raises alarm about the rise in political power and influence of the “Canadian religious right” — you’ll find this secularist truism espoused front, centre and behind the scenes: Religion and religious voices and views have no valid role to play in the public square. Indeed, many secularists are openly hostile to any such participation. But are they correct?” Read more of the letter 

Letter to the Editor by Frank Friesacher Margaret Somerville has created a straw man (or rather, men and women, in this case): where are these secularists who argue that freedom from religion means that “religion has no valid role to play in forming our shared  values and has no place in the public square?” This is certainly not the mainstream understanding of secularism, which predominantly focuses on the right to be free from religious rule and teachings, and the right to freedom from the government imposition of religion upon the state. Continue reading »