Quebec ‘Takes Separation of Church and State’ to its Logical Conclusion
Quebec is a unique place. We know this largely because the Bloc Québécois and their informal provincial equivalent, the Parti Québécois, and other self-styled “sovereigntists” won’t shut up it.
The uniqueness of Quebec lies in its French character, but it also in its heavy secularization. Arguably this heavy secularism is also a heavily French characteristic. It is not just a strong separation of church and state, but often a heavy handed, government enforced secularism. For example, it is illegal in Quebec for a married woman to take her husband’s last name, even if she wants to, because “the patriarchy” or something.
Quebec recently took its secularization campaign even further. The province has now banned certain public sector employees, such as teachers, cops, and judges, from wearing religious symbols at work. The ban includes, but is not limited to Muslim headscarves or hijabs, Jewish kippots, Sikh turbans, and Christian crucifixes.
The ban has both support and opposition from both left and right and was justified as an effort to separate church and state and despite objections from religious and civil liberties groups, the ban is widely popular and passed quite easily.
But while critics rightfully condemn the new law, many of the left-wing critics of the law have failed to see that Quebec has taken the idea of “the separation of church and state” to its logical conclusion.
Back home in the Free World, just this week the Supreme Court ruled 7–2 that a 40-foot-tall cross that serves as a World War I memorial in Maryland does not violate the Establishment Clause. This was the correct decision, because in no way does having a cross-shaped memorial impose any beliefs on anybody, but the atheist groups who bring these lawsuits apparently have nothing better to do than to try to tear down cross-shaped memorials or change the official motto of the U.S. listed on U.S. currency or change words of the Pledge of Allegiance.
But while a cross in Maryland and the ban on public employees wearing religious symbols at work in Quebec may not seem like the same, proponents of both bans use the same logic. Having a teacher wear a head scarf, a kippot, or a necklace with a cross on it does not impose a religious belief on anybody anymore than having a cross-shaped war memorial does. Do these atheists and or secularists really believe that a teacher who enjoys working with little children, but wears a necklace with a cross is the first step in a slippery slope towards a Christian theocratic state?
What Quebec apparently wants is complete devotion in Quebec and its French identity. You don’t work and serve God, you work and serve Quebec and Quebec only.
In this country, contrary to what the left and many atheists will tell you, the doctrine of Separation of Church and State is not in the actual Constitution — it is one that is essentially made up and based on a false reading of a letter from Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist Association. Jefferson correctly pointed out the idea of separating the church (or the synagogue or the mosque) from the state was to protect the church from the state, not to protect state from the church. This is something our friends in Quebec have gotten backwards and individual liberty and conscience rights have suffered. It is the same logic that many in this country have adopted: that any public acknowledgement of religion is somehow forcing that religion on an unwanting public.