Atheist Freethinkers (AFT), “an association which promotes secularism and supports the rights of atheists,” released a strongly worded statement that calls Canada’s Office of Religious Freedom, “A contrivance which will protect neither non-believers nor apostates.”
denounces the creation of the new Office of Religious Freedom, recently announced by Prime Minister Stephen Harper. This Office presents several serious problems.
and then goes on to list and expand on four problems with the Office of Religious Freedom:
Firstly, the mandate of the new Office does not explicitly include protection of apostates and atheists against persecution, and there is little hope that it will address the ill-treatment of non-believers as well as believers.
The Harper government already displays a strong pro-religious bias and appears to us to care very little about human rights based on its recent actions: . . .
The best way to promote freedom of conscience is not to promote religion, but rather to advocate secularism which protects this right while assuring that states are independent and autonomous with respect to religions.
This new Office is under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Minister John Baird, in a speech in Washington in May of 2012, baldly declared, “We know that freedom of religion does not mean freedom from religion.”
The press release unequivocally concludes,
This new Office of Religious Freedom must be denounced as a stratagem to mislead Canadian citizens.