CBC column questions role of religion and Andrew Scheer. Photo by Jake Wright

Comment: CBC columnist sends message of ignorance

By 
  • August 24, 2017

It would be grand to believe the CBC is for everyone. It is, after all, a national broadcaster that we all support with our tax dollars, whether we want to or not.

But I sometimes think those who run the CBC believe the stream of tax revenue that fills their coffers comes exclusively from secularists, atheists and those who espouse a kind of religion lite.

In other words, not people like us, who the CBC might characterize as crazy, God-fearing, obsessive fanatics who spend our days screaming at people to change their ways and then threaten them with hell and damnation.

It’s how I spend much of my free time.

Never was this warped stereotype so on display as in a recent column by CBC journeyman reporter Neil Macdonald, now an opinion writer for the broadcaster.

At the end of May, he raised questions about the religious views of Andrew Scheer, the new leader of the federal Conservative Party and a serious Catholic. He asked: Would Scheer impose his views on the country should he become prime minister?

Good opinion columns can express a point of view while remaining fair and respectful. Macdonald’s column was neither.

“To be clear here,” Macdonald wrote, “I am all for a person’s right to believe in whatever he or she desires, to embrace foundational myths of aliens, or miracles, or extreme positions of love or hatred, as long as it remains in a place of worship, with the door closed. But it usually doesn’t.

“Religion most often involves a deep commitment to telling other people how to live their lives. In the U.S. — and to a lesser extent Canada — evangelical conservatives, both Roman Catholic and Protestant, are often a relentless and formidable political force.

“Many expect and obtain supplication from candidates for public office. They push for laws that amount to moral dictation, often using their tax-free status to amass funding for their activism.”

Where to begin? He objects to the religious bringing their views into the public arena. In effect he is saying the only acceptable public views are his own and those who think like him.

He claims we who have a deep faith in God have a “deep commitment to telling others how to live their lives.”

What in God’s name does that have to do with the great majority of religious people and how they live their lives? Absolutely nothing.

And isn’t Macdonald telling us how to live our lives, while being paid with our tax dollars?

In Canada, the religious influence on policy is almost a joke. We have no laws on abortion, we have gay marriage and we have legalized euthanasia. Some influence.

But to be clear, we have every right as taxpayers, voters and citizens to engage any issue we want. The idea that we should stay closeted is not only anti-democratic but borders on totalitarianism.

Some readers of his column did complain to the CBC’s ombudsman and the response came out a few weeks ago. It said Mr. Macdonald had a right to his opinion, was simply defending the idea of the separation of Church and state and “was (only) being critical of those practitioners of religion who want to impose their views on others.”

Anyone who believes that no person of faith should express his or her views in public clearly has a serious prejudice against the religious. Imagine if he wrote that gay men and women should stay in the closet and never dare to march in Pride parades.

After reading the report I sent a short note to the ombudsman. In part it read: “To me, and many who think like me, secularism has become a set of ‘religious’ beliefs. Religious groups are accused of being unbending and yet the same can be said of secularists. Years ago, secular meant everyone: religious, non-religious, etc.

“Now secular means everyone but the religious. We have become the enemy and I’m sorry to say CBC has had a role in this.”

The blatant ignorance of religion as a force for good is depressing. It was an evangelical who brought an end to the British slave trade. Priests, ministers and rabbis risked their lives marching with Martin Luther King in the Deep South. And there are plenty of Christians who were martyred for opposing Hitler and Stalin. That martyrdom continues today inside repressive regimes.

In 2010, Pope Benedict XVI warned of the dangers facing a society that rejects the secular or the religious wholesale.

“This is why I would suggest that the world of reason and the world of faith — the world of secular rationality and the world of religious belief — need one another and should not be afraid to enter into a profound and ongoing dialogue, for the good of our civilization,” he said.

Maybe Macdonald and his CBC masters should have read this. But then again, why would he listen to another religious fanatic?

Comments (1)

  1. Michael

"In Canada, the religious influence on policy is almost a joke. We have no laws on abortion, we have gay marriage and we have legalized euthanasia. Some influence."

When religious commentators decry the lack of religious influence in society it...

"In Canada, the religious influence on policy is almost a joke. We have no laws on abortion, we have gay marriage and we have legalized euthanasia. Some influence."

When religious commentators decry the lack of religious influence in society it has almost always about sexual practices (contraception, abortion, homosexuality, divorce, etc.) or now recently euthanasia. Religious commentators might take religion more seriously if they pushed other ethical issues that were part of the gospel message rather than just these select few.

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