Secular Groups Left Out of Office of Religious Freedom Announcement
TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Feb. 19, 2013) - Humanist Canada and Centre for Inquiry (CFI), the two largest secular organizations in Canada, today released a joint statement in response to the announcement of the Office of Religious Freedom, which calls on Minister Baird to include the perspectives of the non-religious in the new office.
The Office of Religious Freedom will be an agency under the Foreign Ministry which investigates discrimination on the basis of religion. No secular groups were consulted or invited to participate in the announcement. "We are deeply concerned that this will set a precedent for future operations of this agency," said Humanist Canada's President, Simon Parcher. "It's imperative that the Government of Canada protect the rights of those who choose to live a life without religion."
Accompanying the statement was a report from the CFI Office of Public Policy which details International cases of discrimination against non-religious people. "In many parts of the world the very existence of atheism is outlawed," said Michael Payton, Director of CFI Canada, "in some cases punishable by death."
Both groups stated that while they applaud the diversity displayed by the announcement, they are concerned that the Foreign Minister may ignore the plight of non-religious people across the world.
In September 2012, speaking to the UN, Minister Baird stated, "we don't see agnosticism or atheism as being in need of defence in the same way persecuted religious minorities are."