OTTAWA, ON – Dr. Andrew Bennett, Cardus Law program director and Cardus senior fellow, is calling for greater openness to expressions of faith in the public square in Canada.
“We need to combat hatred and discrimination in our communities and discover anew the dignity we each bear by learning to talk to one another again, to learn to respect and champion difference,” Dr. Bennett told the House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage today. “Government can help to better facilitate this by encouraging greater public expressions of religious faith and different beliefs so that we can hear one another.”
Dr. Bennett’s testimony comes as the committee studies systemic racism and religious discrimination as called for by Motion 103, which the Commons adopted earlier this year. The motion also condemned Islamophobia specifically.
“Islamophobia is a vague term,” says Dr. Bennett. “Let’s be clear on what needs to be addressed: anti-Muslim hatred, which is fed by ignorance, indifference, and fear. All must be addressed at the level of our own communities. These self-same evils manifest themselves in hatred of Jews, hatred of Catholics, hatred of LGBTQ persons, hatred of people who oppose same-sex marriage, hatred of First Nations people, hatred of pro-lifers, and the list goes on.”
Dr. Bennett maintains that hatred can be confronted with greater free expression that allows Canadians to engage with each other over genuine differences – even by criticising and debating religious beliefs.
“So long as all that we say and do is said and done charitably, in a manner that is respectful of the other and their inherent human dignity, then we can agree to disagree,” says Dr. Bennett.
Dr. Bennett’s prepared remarks are available online.
Cardus – Director of Communications