I take my title from the lyrics of a wonderful French-Canadian musical called Notre Dame de Paris (Hunback of Notre Dame) inspired by the famous novel by Victor Hugo. In this scene, Frollo (the priest) and Gringoire (the poet), discuss discoveries in science and technology–albeit based on 15th century Florence–such as the printing press and the rumours of round planet! *GASP!* They speculate that the world is about to change forever as all the new technologies will come to destroy the traditions and science will come to destroy faith.
In this day and age –assumed that I speak from a point of privilege as a white, bilingual, middle class (?) female in Canada– religion has become a taboo. Especially in the French Quebecois society, but still very much all thoughout Canada. Attitudes are increasingly negative towards religion in any way, regardless of which religion. While I understand the concept of “secular” government, I often find myself wondering if I really want a secular government or if I want an inclusive government. The difference being, do I want a government which regulates the state to eliminate religion, or do I want a government that regulates the state but leaves religious practices alone. France’s ban on Burqas quickly followed by similar laws in Quebec in public buildings, makes me wonder: do I want the government to tell me how I can or cannot practice my faith? Provided Quebec regulated with concerns for security, which I understand but France’s ban of the Hijab also came with the ban of any other visible religious symbols and I have a problem with that! I have a problem with my government telling me that I cannot show my devotion. Just like I would have had a problem if my government told me I could no longer have a pride flag patch on my backpack! Get out of my wardrobe!
Security, in all aspects of life, should trump religious belief (i.e. I cannot kill, beat or otherwise abuse anyone based on my religious beliefs). As my father used to say “your right to swing your fist around ends where another person’s nose begins”; my rights should not infringe on anyone else’s rights. I’ve already made my feelings clear about the war on Christmas. Arguments to remove religion from our lives so as to “respect others” frustrate and angers me to no end.
Some might argue that this is in the political sphere. On the personal end, however, religion is not affected… Wrong! I had a chat a while back with my then-15-years-old cousin, who told me how difficult it was for her to find a boy who would understsand her devotion and deeply Catholic values. I was a little shook up by that: I was raised in a good Catholic home but my values as a teenager were far from being deeply Catholic or even devoted in any way. I was dragged to Church and that’s why I was there, that’s it! I found it touching and beautiful that a yound woman like my cousin would value religion so soon in her life, but saddening that she is part of the minority.
More recently, I started posting about my Hijabs, and my spiritual journey. This has encourage many of my friends to “come out” to me with their own spiritual understanding, many of whom have said “I never tell people that I’m [Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Greek Pagan, etc].” The reasons why so many people have such strong feelings AGAINST religion is because of the actions of the institutions and the people. Let us not forget that religion is not God but people, and, therefore, religion is, like people, failible. The Catholic Church is a prime example of abuses of power “in the name of God”. more recently, Muslim extremist are doing the same. These abuses have turned our society into a bitter generation that equates religion with God and are in turn turning away from abuse by turning away from God. I can’t say that I don’t understand them!
I think that a good look at ourselves as believers or non-believers to see how we can make more pleasant the life’s journey of others, is primordial for a just, loving world. Taking the institution out of religion and allowing individuals to chose their own path without judgement, without expectations and with true love is the only way to reconcile ourselves with God.
On Saturday, I officially became a Muslim. Of my friends present, many belief system were represented: Catholicism, Hinduism, Greek Paganism, Atheism, Agnosticism, and Islam! I am ever grateful that people of different faiths or beliefs could come together to wish me luck on my personal journey even though it may differ tremendously from their own.
From what I see, the Church may kill the Bible more than the other way around, and if nothing else, people are the ones who will bring God to life! We just need to start the process, together, regardless of our faiths, towards a just, loving, peaceful world by bringign acceptance of others into our own hearts!