This Week in Religion 2017-11-26

by | November 26, 2017


By Scott Douglas Jacobsen


Most Canadians respect religion, believe it is relevant and think it benefits society, according to a new Angus Reid Institute poll.

But despite those positive findings, religious freedom expert Andrew Bennett is worried about Canada’s acceptance of religion and religious diversity.
“My fear is that increasingly the public square is becoming this gated community, where the only people who can inhabit it are those who adhere to this new type of secular orthodoxy,” Bennett told The Catholic Register.“”

Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board did not infringe on a Hamilton father’s religious freedom, Ontario’s appeal court ruled last Wednesday.Steve Tourloukis, a father with two children in the public school system and a Greek Orthodox Christian, filed for appeal after the Ontario Superior Court of Justice ruled that the school doesn’t have to give him advance notice before discussions of sex, marriage or family happens in the classroom.

Justice Robert J. Sharpe, who dismissed Tourloukis’s appeal, wrote in his ruling the “central and fatal shortcoming” in his case was “the lack of any concrete evidence of interference with his right to religious freedom.””

A new national survey shows Canadians are divided about the role religion should play in government and societal affairs.In an Angus Reid Institute survey, more respondents said religion is good for society or does more good than bad (38%) than those saying it’s bad or does more harm than good (14%).  However, some 48% were equivocal saying it represents a mix of good and bad.

However another question showed that a majority felt that religion should have little to no influence on public life.””


“When it comes to the way Canadians perceive various religions as either benefiting or damaging Canadian society, Judaism is seen in more or less the same way as mainstream Christian faiths – and far removed from Islam.

Twenty per cent of Canadians see Judaism as providing benefits to Canada or Canadian society, according to a new national survey conducted by the Angus Reid Institute (ARI), in conjunction with Faith in Canada 150. At the same time, 35 per cent of those polled said the presence of Catholicism benefited Canada, with 26 per cent saying the same about Protestantism and 24 per cent about evangelical Christianity.

However, when it came to evaluating whether faith groups cause damage to Canada or Canadian society, only 12 per cent said that about Judaism, 17 per cent said it about Catholicism, nine per cent about Protestantism and 21 per cent about evangelical Christianity. A remarkable 46 per cent, however, said that Islam was damaging to Canada or Canadian society, while 13 per cent said it benefited Canada.”


“Recently, Julie Payette, the new Governor General of Canada, created a minor furor when she addressed the Canadian Science Policy Conference in Ottawa. She praised scientific progress and achievement and castigated those who clung to pernicious and outmoded ideas, including militant religious fundamentalism.

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, in his book “The Great Partnership, Science Religion and the Search for Meaning,” maintains that religions work best when they are open and accountable to the world. When they develop into closed systems and sectarian modes of community, when they place great weight on the afterlife or divine intervention into history, expecting the end of time in the midst of time, then they can become profoundly dangerous. For there is then nothing to check their descent into fantasy, paranoia and violence.

We need a vigorous, challenging dialogue between religion and science on the massive problems confronting humanity. Each needs the other if it is to avoid hubris and intellectual imperialism. Bad things happen when religion creates devastation and cruelty on earth for the sake of salvation in heaven. And bad things happen when science declares itself the last word on the human condition and engages in social or bioengineering, treating human beings as objects.”


Scott Douglas Jacobsen founded In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal.

Category: Features Tags: , ,

About Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Founder of In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing. Jacobsen works for science and human rights, especially women’s and children’s rights. He considers the modern scientific and technological world the foundation for the provision of the basics of human life throughout the world and advancement of human rights as the universal movement among peoples everywhere. You can contact Scott via email, his website, or Twitter.

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