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Quebec Charter Misses Institutional Religious Favouritism: National Secularist Organizations

MONTREAL, QUEBEC–(Marketwired – Nov. 11, 2013) - The Canadian Secular Alliance (CSA), a national non-profit organization advancing church-state separation, has serious concerns with Quebec’s Bill 60 Charter.

“The CSA supports a more religiously-neutral provincial government in Quebec,” said CSA President Greg Oliver. “But this bill fails to address the core instances of religious favouritism that still exist within the jurisdiction of the Quebec government.”

A secularism charter should end property tax exemptions for religious buildings, subsidies for private religious schools and direct funding of organizations whose sole purpose is to advance religion.

The bill also includes a ban on wearing ‘conspicuous’ religious symbols for almost all state personnel.

“We are far more concerned with institutional instances of religious expression such as the crucifix on the walls of the National Assembly and Christian prayers to open municipal council meetings,” said Oliver. “A public employee wearing a religious symbol constitutes individual religious expression and, unless proven otherwise, does not necessarily represent government endorsement of that religious worldview. In our view, a blanket ban is excessive – especially for positions with limited authority or public interaction.”