Let’s Hear it For Religious Symbols!

As a Christian Agnostic I say, “Let’s hear it for religious symbols!”

The Quebec Charter of Values, as so often happens in La Belle Province, has hold of the correct stick but from the wrong end.

I was raised in a culture where there were two conversational taboos.  You didn’t ask someone what their religion was nor did you ask how much money they made.  It resulted in a seemingly civilized society even though, inwardly, you were often speculating.

Then a cultural conversational prohibition may have been okay but but now we have Quebec with its Charter of Values wanting to ban all religious symbolism from the wardrobes of public servants.   Well I’m all for the State being secular but it so happens that human beings are mostly all sectarian, whether or not they are Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, Wican, Druid, Atheist, Agnostic, or whatever.

As for me, I don’t really give a hoot what religious persuasion motivates the public servant who issues my driver’s license but if I were a pregnant woman I’d be interested in whether my doctor were a Roman Catholic.  As an octogenarian, if I were being ravaged by a terminal illness I’d like to know whether or not my physician  was willing to abide by Hippocrates’ dictum  and do no harm or was labouring under a religious imperative to unduly sanctify “life” — my life.   Sometimes the “old folk’s friend”, pneumonia, is just that — a friend.  If my medic were wearing a declarative symbol it might at least encourage me (or my family) to ask exceedingly relevant questions about Faith.

So back to the Quebec proposal, and the wrong end of the stick. Never mind banning religious symbols.  To the contrary — in some cases they should be encouraged.

In my opinion — and, since we’re talking about religion, opinion is all we’ve got to go on — in my opinion aspiring politicians should be encouraged to show the symbols of their Faith.   At one time it didn’t matter much but nowadays I’d really like to know whether a prospective Minister in  Charge of Scientific Progress really does think that the world is only 6000 years old because that’s what s/he believes the Bible proves.  If  Prosperity Theology and an absolute faith that he’s following God’s Plan will give a potential political leader personal license to encourage the devastation of the environment, then voters should at least be alerted before they tick their ballot.  (We put warning symbols on cigarette packages, explosives, and poisons.) I really would like to know whether the guy or gal hoping to be PM, or even in charge of Foreign Affairs, believes that a war in the Middle East would be a desirable trigger to bring on Armageddon and the subsequent Return of Christ and the elevation of the Saved to Heaven and the demotion of the Damned to Hell.  In the old days this kind of motivation didn’t have much importance because there was not the  awesome technical ability to initiate the Armageddonal wish — or, for that matter, to simply destroy the environment through unregulated greed. But times have changed.  The tools within the grasp of Political Power have changed.

At the same time our system of democracy has degenerated to the point where once a leader achieves majority power there is precious little we can do about anything until the next election.  We should, in all logic, learn much more about prospective leaders before we elect them.  Their religious imperatives should not be ignored.

Just a few years ago  (at my age the word “few” is relative) it would have been cultural heresy and very very politically incorrect to advocate that a candidate for a seat in parliament or the leadership of a party should be required to expound upon their religious beliefs, but with religious beliefs at the heart of so much of the world’s turmoil it is more and more imperative to learn what makes a would-be leader tick.

So I say, let’s hear it for the personal use of religious symbols, especially amongst would-be politicians, but let’s agree that any person who wears one is tacitly issuing an invitation  to be sincerely questioned about his/her Faith.

Now I’ll have to figure out what the symbol is for a Christian Agnostic.  Any suggestions?


About Munroe Scott

Munroe Scott is a veteran of the freelance writing world.
This entry was posted in Opinion, Politics, Religion and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Let’s Hear it For Religious Symbols!

  1. Jean Koning says:

    The suggestion that comes to my mind is just a nice big fat question mark! Or should that be ?

    Good words here – I’m in full agreement with you! Thanks.

  2. Roy Brady says:

    Hey, Munroe, this is clearly your most impressive Return to Paradox entry. Yes, many of your other posts impressed me.

  3. There’s nothing wrong with religion that God couldn’t fix. As for agnostic Christians, your symbol is an inverted fish-hook worn in the band of a Tilley hat.
    Cheers, Munroe.

  4. Herb Wiseman says:

    Loved this essay. You may be on to something. Thinking outside of the box as usual! Not sure what an Christian Agnostic is though!

  5. kathrynlangley2012 says:

    Wise words, Munroe! Thanks for your thoughts. Warmest regards, KDL

    On 11 September 2013 19:17, Return To Paradox

  6. Earle Gray says:

    Munroe, you’ve helped me clarify my own thoughts on this—completely in accord. A well thought-out and and well expressed piece. Thank you.

  7. Lionel Strange says:

    Great stuff Munroe. As usual you have launched us into a fascinating quagmire of multiple issues.The first that comes to my mind is that those who at present wear religious symbols in public are largely restricted to the lower economic levels of Canadian society. They are not in general holders of positions of major influence in either government or business. The true reason behind the PQ bill would seem to be to discourage a class of immigrant that does not fit comfortably into Quebec society.

    A second issue that comes to mind is the extent to which the average Canadian -and I’m very average- has any significant knowledge of the codes of ethics and behaviour that are basic to those who actively adhere to specific religions. If, as you point out, one is faced with the election of a politician who will have responsibility of a major policy such as defence one would certainly like to know whether he has any strong religious bias regarding the use of particular classes of weapons. I would suspect – and this certainly applies to me- that most of us are very ignorant regarding the theology of religions other than our own. How many of us have actually read the Koran?

    If, as you propose,we insist on all of us wearing our symbols in public, it will surely produce a fascinating picture when we gather for a major event. It may also prove a trifle hazardous due to the plethora of swords and daggers.

    Finally I would posit that the whole issue of discrimination based on race, colour and associated dress and customs is so complex that tinkering with it will do more harm than good. If we want to do something useful I could suggest that we initiate the compilation and free distribution of a guidebook that lists, under the headings of the major religions, the various rules, customs and restrictions that pertain to each.

    In regard to your quest for a symbol for a Christian Agnostic, I would suggest a chicken. i.e. someone who should admit to being an Christian Atheist.

    All the best

    • Munroe Scott says:

      By golly, Lionel, you’ve waded us even farther into the quagmire. Very thought provoking response. I thank you. Interesting suggestion you make in your first para about the hidden agenda re immigrants. Also an intriguing suggestion re the need for a religious guide book. Wow! What a writing task that would be. Maybe the new Office of Religious Freedom should commission it.

      By the way, I don’t think I advocated that we all wear symbols, but that aspiring politicians certainly should and that anyone who does is fair game for questioning.

      You’re not very kind with the chicken symbol but, hey, that Atheist/Agnostic debate is an entire swamp in itself. No doubt I’ll blog my way into it.

  8. TheAlektera says:

    I can think of quite a few politicians, now sitting in the House of Commons (oh wait, prorogued again!) who should be required to wear warning symbols: “Liar”, “Thief”, “Toxic to the Environment”, “May Display Dictatorial Tendencies”, “Under the Influence of Large Corporations”, “Blinded by Power Lust”….. the list goes on……

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