Grumpy Old Men

collins

The grumpy looking old man wearing the symbol of persecution around his neck is Thomas Cardinal Collins, the archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto and the primary authority over publicly-funded Catholic separate schools in Ontario. As a Cardinal, Collins is a member of the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church, an institution that is responsible for the sexual abuse and intentional mistreatment of minors and the institution that recently advised

Newly appointed bishops . . . that it’s “not necessarily” their duty to report suspects of clerical child abuse to authorities.

The Catholic Church considers itself above the law and in a position to advise lawmakers. However, the Church may be justified in its opinion because lawmakers continue to invite members of the Church’s hierarchy to pass their opinion and affect the course of the law. A odious example of this is Collins appearance before the joint Parliamentary Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying:

The upcoming federal law regarding physician-assisted death must respect the conscience rights of doctors and other health-care workers, Cardinal Thomas Collins told a Parliamentary committee.

The parliament of Canada has allowed a member of a religious organization with no concept of moral or ethical behaviour to advise on matters of conscience:

“Our worth as a society will be measured by the support we give to the vulnerable. People facing illness may choose to end their lives for reasons of isolation, discouragement, loneliness or poverty, even though they may have years yet to live.

“What does it say about us as a society when the ill and vulnerable in our midst feel like burdens? Often, a plea for suicide is a cry for help. Society should respond with care and compassionate support for these vulnerable people, not with death.”

Collins doesn’t believe that physician-assisted dying “is the direction the country should be going” and believes “the rights of conscience need to be protected.” This is unmitigated religious bullshit propaganda and most Canadians don’t agree with Collins or with those, like the Christian Medical, and Dental Society of Canada (CMDS) executive director Laurence Worthen, who support him. The word Christian in the society’s name is a smoke screen: it sounds good; it means nothing.

Worthen and Collins keep talking about “protecting the vulnerable” and respecting “the sanctity of human life, which is a gift of God.” Let me remind you again that the Catholic Church has a long history of exploiting the vulnerable and of disregarding the sanctity of human life.

Coincidentally, Lee Williscroft-Ferris’ recent article in the Huffington Post, UK makes a convincing case for ignoring religious opinions and revoking religion’s free pass to influence public policy:

religion undoubtedly has a devastating effect on the everyday lives of untold millions across the globe.

The one comment to Williscroft-Ferris’ article says,

All perfectly true Lee – nothing I disagree with, but I fail to see what is being said here that is new. Although another voice is always useful of course.

Yes, another voice advocating revoking religion’s free pass is always useful, and while the opinions in this post are similar to those expressed in previous Canadian Atheist posts, they bear repeating: religion has no business in the governments of the nation.

10 thoughts on “Grumpy Old Men

  1. Damn right! Religion has no place in the public sphere. The fact that my taxes go to supporting this corrupt medieval institution makes me feel like puking all over Collins’ ridiculous religious get-up.

    • > > … [religion] has no business in the governments of the nation.

      Correct.

      > Religion has no place in the public sphere.

      Wrong.

      “Government” ≠ “the public sphere”, and understanding the difference is vital for a healthy society.

      • Thanks, typo corrected.

      • No idea what you mean.

        Meetings which are open to the public (city councils, school boards…) are to my way of thinking part of the public sphere. Several years ago our then local MP Woodward decided to hold a prayer meeting in front of Kitchener city hall at a non-religious function attended by the citizens of Kitchener, consisting of people of various religious beliefs and as well as atheists like myself. This is also an example of religion in the public sphere, which is inappropriate in a secular society. Religion should only be practiced in places of worship attended by members of a religious group, and not be imposed indiscriminately in the public spare.

        • > Several years ago our then local MP Woodward decided to hold a prayer meeting in front of Kitchener city hall at a non-religious function attended by the citizens of Kitchener, consisting of people of various religious beliefs and as well as atheists like myself. This is also an example of religion in the public sphere….

          No, that is an example of religion in *GOVERNMENT* – Woodworth was an MP, and in that situation he was acting in official capacity. *THAT* is wrong – as Veronica said, religion has no business in government – and the Supreme Court has already made that clear.

          > Religion should only be practiced in places of worship attended by members of a religious group, and not be imposed indiscriminately in the public spare.

          No. We live in a free country.

          Religion can be practised anywhere a citizen damn well pleases, so long as it doesn’t interfere with the rights or freedoms of anyone else – and no, you don’t have a right to be free from seeing other people be religious.

          You *DO* have a right to a secular, neutral government, which is why government officials are not allowed to practice their religion while acting as government officials (as Woodworth did, wrongly). But when they’re not acting in official capacity, they too have the right to practice whatever religion they please, however they please.

          • >Religion can be practised anywhere a citizen damn well pleases, so long as it doesn’t interfere with the rights or freedoms of anyone else – and no, you don’t have a right to be free from seeing other people be religious.

            Agreed. Except when the practice of religion involves imposing religion (proselytizing) in public, whether or not the proselytizer is a government official or not.

          • I suppose, if you go along with the Chinese Communists, you could declare that religious indoctrination is harmful to children and the weak minded, so, as a public health issue, religious proselytizing is illegal.

          • > Except when the practice of religion involves imposing religion (proselytizing) in public, whether or not the proselytizer is a government official or not.

            No. That is a dangerous, *DANGEROUS* road to start down.

            Saying that people don’t have a right to publicize things that (you think) are “foolish”, “wrong”, “offensive”, or “dangerous” is giving the government the right to ban public speech on those grounds. And if *that* happens, what makes you think the government will stop with banning just the things *you* think are foolish, wrong, offensive, or dangerous?

            Atheism, secularism, humanism, and freethought are, in a way, fundamentally about scaring the shit out of people in power. They work *because* they get in the face of people who don’t want to listen, and make them uncomfortable. They have always been “unwanted” ideas, and will probably always be – even in a completely atheist society, secular authorities won’t be thrilled to have their power challenged by “undesirable” ideas, and that’s a good thing. You don’t really have a serious grasp of history if you think banning “unwanted” ideas from the public sphere will improve secularism, or help freethought in general.

            A healthy society requires an open, vigorous public sphere where *ANY* idea (that isn’t actually threatening, etc.) can be advocated – *especially* ideas that annoy or upset the majority. Not being able to handle the sight of religion in public is not a sign of reason, it is a sign of cowardice and weakness. A strong, free society can handle loudmouthed religious idiots in its midst, and will deal with them not by persecuting them, but by rolling their eyes at them and then moving on about its business.

            The most terrible thing a society can do to religion is not banning it, it is ignoring it.

            We are not yet in a place where we can afford to simply ignore religion, because religion still has too much entrenched power and undeserved respect. Still, giving religious people the freedom to spout their dumbass ideas is a brilliantly effective tactic for us. We *want* to drag Collins’s bullshit out into the light of day and discuss it openly; we *want* to force him to stand up in front of the Canadian public and justify, for example, telling bishops they can cover up rape (or telling Canadians they can’t die with dignity). We want to swing the door wide open and *invite* religions to be upfront about, for example, how they feel about LGBT people.

            That’s the beauty of having opponents who believe stupid and hateful things – every time they open their mouths, we win a little more.

  2. Religion belongs in the places of worship, & only the places of worship……not doctor’s offices, not hospitals, not government, not the courts, & NOT in my private life….or death!

  3. I think there may be a higher percentage of self-declared atheists now in the US than in Canada. Canada is a bit blind to itself. Now that Harper is gone an opportunity to promote secularism as a Canadian national value is presenting itself.

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