March 22-24, 2015 in Vancouver a conference will be held in Vancouver called Bridging the Religious-Secular Divide. Interestingly, the conference program doesn’t seem to hold any organizations or individuals I recognize as “secular”, let alone “humanist” or “atheist”.
This should be a huge concern to Canadian atheists, secularists and humanists; in fact, it should be a call to action. Conferences like this are symptomatic of religious communities’ ability to get active and coordinated quickly and maintain that activity and coordination over time.
Last night, while attending a meeting of Dying With Dignity, an organization attempting to tackle one of Canadian secularism’s most important issues, I had the opportunity to hear and reflect on a few very important observations from the speakers.
For example, why are governments largely indifferent or opposed to advancing human rights here in Canada? Despite the reality that the vast majority of Canadians support the right to choose a dignified death, provincial and federal governments don’t seem terribly worried about acting on those priorities.
I think, in part, this is a result of religious communities’ ability to develop and maintain a sense of urgency in their causes. In essence, their fanaticism serves them well…and the defining reasonable nature of secularists, atheists and humanists leaves us compromising, using “balanced” language and often, struggling to retain the rights that are gained with so much difficulty from decade to decade.
And here we have a conference which pretends to bridge the divide between secular interests and religious ambitions. This conference should be seen for what it is, a renewed effort to assert religion in public office and public policy making.
Dying With Dignity is fighting to assert Canadian’s option to choose a dignified death for decades to come. Religious communities continue to oppose these and other hard-won rights in favour of religious authority over Canadians’ lives.
It is a call to action – 6 people from CFI Canada attended Dying With Dignity’s meeting; next time we should have 60. There should be fifty people from secular organizations attending the Vancouver conference to set the pace and tone of the dialogue. The community of secularists, humanists, secular humanists, atheists, agnostics, skeptics must begin to recognize the urgency to get involved.