Freedom of Religion vs. Neutrality
by claudiabastien on September 15, 2013 - 4:00pm
When I first heard about Pauline Marois’ values charter, I was shocked and could not believe my ears what I was hearing. I had to inform myself about this new charter to make sure it was not just a “joke”. To my misfortune, I found out that there was actually a serious debate over this charter.
Hence, for this blog post, I had to choose the article entitled “Quebec values charter protest hits Montreal streets” (linked below) because it shows different views regarding the charter, which made me realize that the charter itself goes against humans’ basic rights. This issue drew my interest because it touches the society that I live in, and I thought that we were tolerant of everyone’s differences as we are a multicultural country. However, according to the general significance of this article, the charter does not permit people who wear religious symbols to work for the government. Hence, I have to reconsider the “real values” of our society, and an ethical question bumps into my head when I think about this charter.
Should we allow Quebec values charter to pass?
Personally, I believe we should not let the Quebec values charter pass as it goes against the right of freedom of religion. Everyone has the right to practice his or her religion freely without being discriminated in any way. However, the Quebec values charter does not permit people to wear religious symbols when working for the government. For instance, someone wearing a hijab cannot work in the public field even though this symbol is part of her religion’s code. It is not right to impose such laws, so we should let people wear religious symbols in their work place. Furthermore, it creates separation within society. This new charter might revive islamophobia and divide our society when we have been fighting for years for tolerance of other cultures by way of our reasonable accommodations. Additionally, this new charter will affect career choices and opportunities. If someone has to wear a religious symbol, as his religion obliges him/her, his/her possibility of careers will be diminished, which goes against humans’ right to do what they wish for a living. Hence, the Quebec values charter is discriminatory against some religious communities.
On the other hand, the supporters of this charter believe that the charter should pass to ensure neutrality inside the government. According to them, because the state is neutral, people working for the government should be neutral and show no sign of religious beliefs. Therefore, neutrality inside a state is essential to ensure that the decisions made are not opinion based. Moreover, the charter states that someone receiving or offering services from the state should be identifiable for security purposes. Therefore, people cannot wear such apparel as a burka or chador in order to be identified properly. Thus, this charter avoids situations where the security of citizens can be at risk as a result of the improper identification of someone. In short, the Quebec values charter should be adopted according to some because it ensures protection and neutrality of the state.
I find it ironic that the charter demands the neutrality of its civil servants, but does not believe in removing the crucifix from the Quebec legislature… This ethical issue makes me wonder if we are focusing on the most important problem present in our society. Does adopting restrictive laws regarding religious symbols, such as the Quebec values charter, really improve the society we live in?