In an article appearing at The Catholic Thing, Andrew Bennett, Director of the Religious Freedom Institute’s North America Action Team, commented on a law recently enacted by the Québec government titled, Bill 21: An Act Respecting the Laicity of the State. The law prohibits the “wearing of religious symbols by public servants when they are exercising their functions.”
Among those subject to the law’s provisions are legislators, justices of the peace, prosecutors, peace officers, and school teachers. As Bennett argues, “[T]he law is deeply troubling on its face, demanding that public servants in Québec present incomplete versions of themselves when performing their duties in the public domain.”
The right of public religious expression, Bennett continues, entails more than wearing religious symbols.
It also means the right to operate faith-based institutions in a manner consistent with religious teachings, to refrain from participation in activities that are incompatible with religious belief, and – in a democracy of equal citizens – the right to engage in debates over law and public policy with religion-based arguments.
Though Bill 21 focuses on wearing religious symbols, “The logic of the law could easily be wielded to justify future restrictions on these more substantive areas of expression.”
Read the full article: Quebec’s Totalitarian Moment and Loss of Catholic Culture.