To submit a letter to the editor, e-mail michael.willcock@terracestandard.com. Include your first and last name or initials and a last name, and your city of residence. Letters will be edited.

To submit a letter to the editor, e-mail michael.willcock@terracestandard.com. Include your first and last name or initials and a last name, and your city of residence. Letters will be edited.

Atheist association puzzled by newspaper’s nativity scene stance

Newspaper’s argument boggles the mind, says letter writer

To the editor,

We were disappointed to read The Terrace Standard’s full-throated defence of erecting a nativity scene at city hall, even as the same paper applauded the city’s decision to end the unconstitutional practice of including prayer in inaugural meetings.

READ MORE: Better reasons needed for nativity scene ban

The editorial spuriously claimed “the nativity display is a cultural expression.” This argument boggles the mind. The scene literally depicts one of the most sacred moments in a specific faith tradition. It only represents those citizens of Terrace – just 37 per cent according to the latest census data – who believe in Jesus and the Christian message.

Further, while it is true the Saguenay case focused exclusively on the question of prayers, Justice Gascon was clear that culture isn’t a sufficient defense: “If the state adheres to a form of religious expression under the guise of cultural or historical reality or heritage, it breaches its duty of neutrality.”

The public square is for all citizens, regardless of their beliefs or lack thereof. The placement of a nativity scene on city hall sends a clear message that the city endorses a particular religion over others.

The argument that Hindus or Humanists could erect their own displays is also nonsense. We do not proselytize, nor do many religious traditions. Our worldview is centred on a respect for individual belief, which is best protected by governments staying out of the business of promoting belief.

Rotating religious displays also doesn’t diminish the exclusion felt by someone who’s suffered abuse within a particular tradition if they have to enter city hall on that particular day.

We do grant that this question has not been formally settled by Canadian courts. So it’s entirely open to any city hall to plant their flag on this issue. But given Terrace residents are already facing record high annual tax increases, surely there are more fiscally responsible avenues to take than to enmesh the city in a multi-year quixotic legal battle.

Finally, while we share The Terrace Standard’s desire to see the city’s legal opinion. We’ve yet to see anyone make a serious argument that it would differ from what we have been arguing and what was written in Saguenay.

Ian Bushfield,

Vancouver, B.C.

Ian Bushfield is executive director of the B.C. Humanists Association


 

Do you have a comment about this story? email:
michael.willcock@terracestandard.com

Letter to the EditorQuebecReligion

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