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Apr 06 2012

Is that border magical?

What strange transformation occurs within humanity as we trace the population northward, from the United States to Canada? A recent survey of Canadians (especially the Quebecois variety) revealed something:

Buried away in the survey was a single question that caught my eye immediately: Personally, do you consider yourself to be a religious person? A minuscule 22% answered yes. Presumeably, a whopping 78% of Quebecers do not consider themselves religious.

Across the whole of Canada, 36% answered yes, which is a little worse…but still, where has the United States of America gone wrong?

88 comments

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  1. 1
    Glen Davidson

    You’d have to ask about what they “believe,” etc. Some true believers would probably say “no,” since they’re afraid that they don’t “believe enough.”

    I wouldn’t be encouraged by this were I a religious leader, but the question is clearly too blunt to tell us what they really think.

  2. 2
    kemist, Dark Lord of the Sith

    It’s the french.

    Don’t you know french is of the devil ? You can tell by its grammar.

    Mouhahahahahahah !

  3. 3
    holytape

    And that’s why Jesus made Canada so cold and hasn’t blessed them with the large patriotic military that true America has…

    Fear and Loathing in Damascus

  4. 4
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    Mon dieu! Sacre bleu! C’est (all) francais (to) moi!

    (Struggles to remeber high school classes in French lo-oong long ago. Recalls vaguely that they called their swimming pools “piss-ins” & for some reasons pommes de terre, tase de tay and “fenetre. Murde! Not very helpful those.)

  5. 5
    kemist, Dark Lord of the Sith

    You’d have to ask about what they “believe,” etc. Some true believers would probably say “no,” since they’re afraid that they don’t “believe enough.”

    In Quebec, that’s not really the case.

    If you poll people in the streets, they’ll either tell you, shyly, that they believe in a vague “something out there”, or they will tell you unabashedly that religion is bullshit that’s not worth any time to think about. And the nice thing is that it will often trump the level of education. Blue collars are just as likely to think like that as university students.

  6. 6
    md

    this may shed some indirect light on the subject.

    http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/2012/04/06/jon-haidts-righteous-mind/

  7. 7
    Thy Goddess

    French canadian here. Yah, we’re not religious. If you loudly go “I’M AN ATHEIST!!!” No one will gasp in disbelief. It’s expected. HOWEVER:

    1- Lots of people still baptize their kids. Because.
    2- Some people still go to church on Christmas. Because.
    3- Government gives money to keep churches running. Because it’s “cultural heritage”.

    We love our christmas tree and nativity scenes during the season but there is no religious reason behind it. We’re happy to jack up a Santa right next to it. It’s just festive imagery to us. It has no particular meaning. Most of us are annoyed at the “holiday tree” PC stuff. Because we don’t use the holidays for religious reasons anymore, we don’t feel it’s necessary at all to be PC and for other religions to be offended. Noel is family and gifts and lots of food.

  8. 8
    kemist, Dark Lord of the Sith

    (Struggles to remeber high school classes in French lo-oong long ago. Recalls vaguely that they called their swimming pools “piss-ins” & for some reasons pommes de terre, tase de tay and “fenetre. Murde! Not very helpful those.)

    Not so bad. My french unilingual friends mostly know “yes”, “no” and “toaster”.

    And in Quebec you won’t hear anyone speak of “pommes de terre”. We say “patate”.

    Comme dans “La Reine de la Patate”.

  9. 9
    dubocn74

    Unfortunately, if you live in Alberta, the way I do. You have to deal with the Alberta Wild Rose Party who is currently dodging questions on the provincial campaign trail about “conscious rights”. Essentially, religious doctors and pharmacists would not have to prescribe birth control and a Justice of the Peace can decide whether or not they perform marriage ceremonies based on “beliefs”.

    The fact that Wild Rose handlers encourage their candidates to dodge these questions, even in Alberta, is encouraging. Presumably they are afraid that this sort of mandate could cost them the election. However, I find it darn scary that there are still people in this country who would consider “conscious rights” as a serious political platform.

  10. 10
    Bart B. Van Bockstaele

    That seems consistent with Europe. My guess is that Québec has suffered a lot more from repression by “loving Christians” than the US, and that -as a result- they have learned to see Christianity for what it is: a brutal system to oppress people.

    In the US, the “Freedom of religion” principle has probably protected more people from religiously inspired involuntary hardship, and as a result, more people still buy into it.

    See the parallel with vaccines: people who remember the hospital wards filled with polio victims are usually very much in favour of vaccination. Those who are too young to remember this, stand a higher chance of rejecting vaccination.

  11. 11
    dubocn74

    Oh, and for the record, in spite of being born in Alberta, I love Quebec. It’s an amazing place. I don’t have any of that “yee haw I’m from the west and ah hate those frenchies out east tryin’ to steal ma oil and make me talk all funny” (insert finger pistols shooting in the air here) attitude.

    Go Habs Go!

  12. 12
    Emilie

    What Thy Goddess and others said. However, there is still a crucifix in the Assemblée Nationale, and it looks like the miserable piece of wood is there to stay…why, you ask? Because it’s our cultural heritage!

    Tsk…whatever.

  13. 13
    Emilie

    What Thy Goddess and others said. However, there is still a crucifix in the Assemblée Nationale, and it looks like the miserable piece of wood is here to stay…why, you ask? Because it’s our cultural heritage!

    Tsk…whatever.

  14. 14
    Emilie

    …oops. Sorry for the double posting. I got trigger-happy on the “submit comment” button.

  15. 15
    coyotenose

    …where has the United States of America gone wrong?

    America was founded by Puritans. Canada was founded by beavers.

    Beavers are natural. Puritans are not.

    QED.

  16. 16
    Chuck

    I blame separation of church and state. In Europe, state-run churches breed cynicism and fall into disuse. Here, we’ve got a laissez-faire religious economy where every church competes in the wild with every other one, and the big ones are thriving.

    It’s a good idea that somehow backfired.

  17. 17
    larrylyons

    Its Canada, just a classier bunch of people, Alberta excepted of course.

  18. 18
    Arwen Leigh

    Yes. I think religion is dying quicker up here. If you just surveyed those under a certain age, I think the percentage of the godless would be higher. If you walk into most churches these days, it’s filled with the over 50 crowd. Young people, not so much.

  19. 19
    ischemgeek

    @SteveoR #4: C’est tous les Français pour moi.

    ^ I think that’s what you’re going for? (Full disclosure: My French is six years rusty and my education in the language was eclectic at best)

  20. 20
    kemist, Dark Lord of the Sith

    America was founded by Puritans. Canada was founded by beavers.

    What do you mean, founded by beavers ?

    [hides freakishly long teeth with both hands]

  21. 21
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    Canada is doomed anyways. Just ask the Patriarchy Research Institute.

  22. 22
    Avo, also nigelTheBold

    The reason more folks in the US believe in God is simple:

    This is a God-fearing nation, founded on God’s divine mercy, and a singular and special destiny. This is New Israel, God’s new chosen land, and we are God’s new chosen people. We are the sword of God’s wrath, and the shield of God’s love. Our economy is a reflection of God’s satisfaction, our woes indications of his displeasure.

    The United States of America holds a special place in God’s constellation of blessed lands. We shall be the smith of the end-times, crafting a world in which Jesus will come (he’s only 1970 years late, after all). It is our divine privilege to be the most powerful country in the world, and our glorious obligation to ensure fulfillment of God’s most holy prophecies.

    TL;DR: The US is an extra-special snowflake made entirely of cupcakes.

    At least, that’s my interpretation. It might be a little simplistic.

  23. 23
    tomfrog

    @ SteveoR #4
    & ischemgeek #19

    C’est tous les Français pour moi.

    “C’est tout du français pour moi” I guess. But you wouldn’t say “tout”. Like in “C’est du chinois pour moi”.

  24. 24
    kemist, Dark Lord of the Sith

    @SteveoR #4: C’est tous les Français pour moi.

    ^ I think that’s what you’re going for? (Full disclosure: My French is six years rusty and my education in the language was eclectic at best)

    No, I think it’s more like “C’est tout du français pour moi”.

    A kind of frenglish rendition of the expression “it’s all chinese to me”.

  25. 25
    tomfrog

    @kemist #24

    We had exactly the same thought it seems :)

  26. 26
    ischemgeek

    As for Canadians being more godless: I’m not sure those numbers are accurate as a proxy of godlessness. We just have a lot of people who go “Hmmm… Church < being warm on a February morning. God'll understand." (who'd want to go to a cold, drafty building when it's -35°C out? and because of that, they don't consider themselves religious even though they are believers… our liberal, laissez-faire believers by far outweigh our religious right types.

  27. 27
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    @ ^ kemist & tomfrog : Umm I think so! Yeah. I mean oui, merci beacoup!

  28. 28
    cormacolinde

    @Bart B.

    Your guess isn’t very far from the truth.

    From the first french settlers in the 16th century, the catholic church had been very strong in Quebec as it was in France then, even stronger. Its hold on the population became even stronger with the English takeover, promising protection even while secretly dealing with the “enemy”.

    I think its influence reached its height at the end of the 19th and in the first half of the 20th century, when its hold on the population, and its presence in every part of life (including politics) was extremely strong, where priests would tell people who to vote for in the pulpit.

    But this power and control let to a backlash: starting after WW2, the anti-religious feelings finally came out during the “Revolution Tranquille” (the Quiet Revolution) in the 60s, when huge changes swept the province; culturally, politically and economically. The church lots its hold on politics, and people saw what they truly were. They never recovered, you won’t find a lot of believes who are younger than 60 nowadays, and to be an atheist is the default.

    We’re not entirely secular, as others have mentioned, there are still some to hold on to the old habits for “cultural” reasons, but these remnants are going away little by little, and the Catholic Church in this country will be gone within 20 years.

  29. 29
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    America was founded by Puritans.

    I know this is meant as a joke but that is wrong. The Puritans were long gone by the time the American Revolution was founded. The colonies founded by them were just a few of the very different colonies that became very uneasy allies.

    Also, the areas colonized by Puritans are now pretty much the most secular areas within the US.

  30. 30
    deviyates

    Québec has had a big church-state split back in the 60′s. It was called the Quiet Revolution. Huge moment. Thing is, the Catholic Church helped French language survive in an Anglo environment, so… Church became part of the culture a bit by default. Outside of Québec, the French communities are much more religious.

    I’ve been an atheist since forever, and my family certainly doesn’t practice. But we’ll still go to the odd baptism, or communion. I feel like it’s become more about rites of passage than anything else.

  31. 31
    deviyates

    Man, I don’t type fast enough. Kudos to #cormacolinde for explaining it way better than me.

  32. 32
    bjorke

    Canada had no John Winthrop for politicians to cite for the past 300+ years

  33. 33
    kemist, Dark Lord of the Sith

    Oh, and for the record, in spite of being born in Alberta, I love Quebec. It’s an amazing place. I don’t have any of that “yee haw I’m from the west and ah hate those frenchies out east tryin’ to steal ma oil and make me talk all funny” (insert finger pistols shooting in the air here) attitude.

    Go Habs Go!

    Cool. I don’t have particular hate for Alberta either. At least for what I’ve seen of it. I’ve been rather well received there compared with Ontario. Great, beautiful natural parks. Grizzlies.

    Now if you found an imaginative way to combine grizzlies and Stephen Harper (to occupy him a bit for the next election by honing his cardio), that’d be swell.

  34. 34
    AlanMac

    Unfortunately, due to Canada’s multi-party parliamentary system, 36% is enough to get majority control of Parliament, as has happened. The Government is introducing an “Office of Religious Freedom”, to investigate hate crimes against religions. In essence, a prelude to re-instating blaspheme laws as the Harper Regime has been promising their supporters for 6 years. Also , they are suspending funding to charities that the government “feels” are too political, i.e. Women’s groups that are pro-choice or “activist” are automatically “political”, international charities that sponsor birth control programs are considered “political”

  35. 35
    Nick Gotts

    I blame separation of church and state. In Europe, state-run churches breed cynicism and fall into disuse. Here, we’ve got a laissez-faire religious economy where every church competes in the wild with every other one, and the big ones are thriving. – chuck

    I don’t buy this “supply-side” explanation of the Euro/US difference at all. It is based on two false premises:
    1) That all European states have state religions. France and the Czech Republic, two of those scoring lowest on levels of religious belief, do not, and France has a long history of state-supported secularism.
    2) That in European states with a state religion, other denominations are somehow debarred or discouraged or cannot compete. This is simply false.
    I note in addition that in the UK, leaders of other denominations and religions than the C of E overwhelmingly support the retention of the established church. They would hardly do that if they thought it discouraged religious committment.

  36. 36
    Emilie

    The Government is introducing an “Office of Religious Freedom”, to investigate hate crimes against religions.

    Huh. I missed that one, what with the debacle over the F-35, the overnight disappearance of the firearm registry, the Pierre Poutine election scandal, the condemnation for contempt to Parliament and whatnot…

  37. 37
    kemist, Dark Lord of the Sith

    The Government is introducing an “Office of Religious Freedom”, to investigate hate crimes against religions. In essence, a prelude to re-instating blaspheme laws as the Harper Regime has been promising their supporters for 6 years.

    Funny the way these things never make the news over here. The anti-choice leanings have leaked a bit thought.

    And you know what’s ironic ? Harper is the best thing that’s happened to the Quebec separation movement in years. The PQ chief even publicly smile about it right now. And she’s right. My hand leans more and more towards the “yes” box as Canada keeps heading to the right.

  38. 38
    CorvusCorax

    @dubocn74

    Getting off topic, but I’m an Albertan atheist who supports gay marriage, planned parenthood, AND conscience rights. Something of an enigma I guess…

    I am absolutely fine with a doctor, pharmacist or marriage commissioner refusing to perform a service due to conscientious reasons, as long as there are others who are willing.

    Doctor won’t prescribe birth control? He’s an asshole, you don’t want him for your doctor. Visit a family planning center and get a referral to a doctor who will prescribe it and pharmacist who will fill it.

    Catholic priest refuses to marry you and your life-partner? Religion is bullshit anyways. Don’t file a human rights complaint, phone around and find a commissioner who will perform the ceremony! There’s no shortage commissioners. And if there are a shortage of willing commissioners, then the government needs to recognize there is a need and appoint people who are willing.

  39. 39
    arppy

    I’ve been living in Alberta all my life, and it makes me wonder about this “36% of Canadians consider themselves religious” figure. Here in Calgary (Ultimate Stronghold of the Conservatives), non-religiosity is seen as the domain of the college-aged student. Anyone younger is assumed to be religious, and anyone older is supposed to “know better”. While not outright hated, atheism is still on the fence of tolerance. Better than the US, from what I’ve heard, but still not completely Canadian.

    I’d move to Vancouver or something, but I don’t have the money to move and I can’t bear being parted from the Rockies.

  40. 40
    kemist, Dark Lord of the Sith

    Doctor won’t prescribe birth control? He’s an asshole, you don’t want him for your doctor. Visit a family planning center and get a referral to a doctor who will prescribe it and pharmacist who will fill it.

    The problem is:

    1) there is a shortage of family doctors;

    2) as a doctor in a public healthcare system, you are an employee of the state, and therefore have to do what you’re asked to do or find another job;

    3) being a pharmacist or doctor is a priviledge granted by the state, given the amount of ressources given to you in salary and education. Nobody forced you to undergo training and take money from the state, and a lot of people are in line to take your place. So if you don’t like it, fuck the hell off.

  41. 41
    theobromine

    @buccal pump:

    As long as a service is publicly funded, the provider has no right to refuse to provide it on the basis of faith, conscience, or other “strongly held belief”.

    The government has no business to force a Catholic priest to marry a gay couple. However, a marriage commissioner employed by the province must provide the service of marrying any couple who has met the legal requirements. If this is an issue of conscience, then their conscience will have to guide them to quit the job. What if a marriage commissioner had a strongly held belief that persons of differing skin colour should not get married? Would you apply the same advice that the commissioner’s attitude is acceptable, and the miscegenating couple should just seek another person in the department to provide the service?

    As for the doctor, where s/he is publicly funded, like the marriage commissioner s/he is obligated to provide services that are medically indicated and legally permitted. I admit that the question of the pharmacist is a bit more nuanced, since they are generally private business people, and should be able to decide what to sell at their drugstore.

  42. 42
    Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

    I admit that the question of the pharmacist is a bit more nuanced, since they are generally private business people, and should be able to decide what to sell at their drugstore.

    No. It’s not more nuanced. I should be able to go into my local pharmacy and get the medications prescribed by my physician. What if you’re the only pharmacist in town (surely not unusual in rural areas and up north)? What if I’ve been raped and need Plan B? It might be impossible to go elsewhere for it if the road’s been snowed in or flooded out. A pharmacist has a duty to the public, even if not paid entirely with government funds.

  43. 43
    screechymonkey

    Yeah, I think many people are overestimating how easy it is to just find another pharmacist/doctor/whatever. Sure, in a big city it might be a matter of just walking another block, but in other places, not so much.

    And isn’t this a problem for employers, too? What if I own a small pharmacy that can’t afford to keep multiple pharmacists on duty at all times? Are my customers just supposed to show up and hope that Johnny Bornagain isn’t on duty that day so they can get their birth control prescription filled? And when I lose those customers because they’re frustrated at playing pharmacist roulette, I have to just grin and bear it because firing Johnny Bornagain or ordering him to fill the damn prescriptions would be a violation of his “conscience rights”?

    And marriage commissioners? Please. If you’re employed by the government to give a license or certification to eligible members of the public, you don’t get to make up your own additional criteria. Can a driving test examiner refuse to pass any women because it’s his religious belief that women shouldn’t drive? Can an elections supervisor refuse to give a woman (or an atheist) a ballot?

  44. 44
    Amphiox

    My guess is that Québec has suffered a lot more from repression by “loving Christians” than the US, and that -as a result- they have learned to see Christianity for what it is: a brutal system to oppress people.

    Your guess is not that far from the truth.

    Prior to the 1960s, Quebec was the most religious Canadian province, and the Roman Catholic Church had enormous power in Quebec society.

    Then came what Canadian history buffs call the “Quiet Revolution” in Quebec, and everything change. The prestige of the church plummeted like Galileo’s rock.

    Most Canadians are probably non-religious believers. They belief in some, usually vague, idea of a creator deity, but consider those beliefs private and do not participate much in organized religion, except for things like weddings and funerals.

    It’s not too far from PZ’s “religion as knitting” concept.

  45. 45
    CorvusCorax

    @kemist and @theobromine

    I am admittedly ignorant of how our system works. Are doctors and marriage commissioners paid a salary by the government? Or do they submit a charge to the government for services rendered, e.g. $50 per doctor’s visit. I seem to remember handing a cheque over to my marriage commissioner before the service.

    It’s an important distinction.

    As long as a service is publicly funded, the provider has no right to refuse to provide it on the basis of faith, conscience, or other “strongly held belief”.

    If they are paid salary, then fine, their job description forces them to provide the service. You know that going in.

    If it is fee based, and they want to pass up income in the name of their bigotry, that’s their choice. If word gets out, they might not be in business very long. As long as someone in the Province is readily available to perform the service, the government meets its obligations and accommodates the right for people to be jerks.

    It looks as though most physician and marriage commissioner income is fee for service based.

    http://tinyurl.com/74cww7s
    http://tinyurl.com/7r7z2fe

    @kemist Agreed about the shortage of family doctors. That is a situation that needs to be fixed, and is a complicating factor in the conscience rights debate, as well as ER wait times, and so on. Options are good. Fix this issue and a lot of other problems go away.

  46. 46
    Amphiox

    I am absolutely fine with a doctor, pharmacist or marriage commissioner refusing to perform a service due to conscientious reasons, as long as there are others who are willing.

    As far as I am aware, conscience rights already exist in standard medical practice. Any physician is free to refuse to provide any medical service to a patient he or she is uncomfortable with providing for any reason, BUT, if so, the physician is obligated to help that patient get that service, if medically indicated, from another physician who is willing.

    (And of course, if you do not provide the service, you cannot bill for it!)

  47. 47
    CorvusCorax

    @42 @43

    Good points about remote areas.

  48. 48
    Amphiox

    In other words, if you are a doctor who does not want to provide abortion services (and abortion is a normal procedure provided by your subspecialty), you are free to refuse to do it, BUT, medical profession ethics obligates you to personally take responsibility for finding your patient another physician who can and will perform the abortion. And you MUST do so in a timely fashion.

    The reason you do not want to perform the abortion doesn’t actually matter. It does not have to be a matter of conscience. It could simply be that you haven’t performed an abortion in 10 years and are not comfortable with your technical expertise in the procedure anymore.

    This of course only applies to elective procedures. If the procedure is urgent/emergent (say an abortion required for life-threatening situation) then you must perform it.

  49. 49
    itkovian

    As a Quebecois myself, but living in Vermont, I must admit to be very happy to read this article.

    That said, I’m not sure if I should be surprised… on the one hand I was born and raised as a Catholic and went to a Catholic public school (no separation of church and state in Quebec, as you can see… at least not at the time). The indoctrination was mild, mind you, and certainly was not as extremist as I hear from American Catholics.

    On the other hand, when I moved to Vermont (which is about as liberal as you can get) I was shocked at the sheer quantity of denominations and churches studding the landscape and at how LOUD religion was. Both visually (large signs, bumper stickers everywhere), and politically.

    It’s no coincidence that, while Canada certainly has its own troubled politics, they don’t come close to the sheer insanity we see across the USA (though I can’t say how much of that is a function of a smaller population).

    Itkovian

  50. 50
    saramason

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned yet how in Quebec, Catholic words and phrases are used as the strongest profanity. The shift from hardcore Catholicism to rejection of religious dogma in Quebec makes for a very interesting case study for atheism.

  51. 51
    kemist, Dark Lord of the Sith

    Agreed about the shortage of family doctors. That is a situation that needs to be fixed, and is a complicating factor in the conscience rights debate, as well as ER wait times, and so on. Options are good. Fix this issue and a lot of other problems go away.

    Not quite.

    I still pay via my taxes and give valuable seats in medical schools to people who won’t do their jobs properly.

    Want to be a nutjob doctor ? Go to private med school, don’t take government money, don’t steal seats from sane, competent people.

  52. 52
    sailor1031

    Well now you all know about the quiet revolution. It’s interesting that my brother (73) and his wife (bleuette from “la region du Saguenay”) are devout catholics. Their three children are all totally irreligious except for weddings and funerals (rites of passage). You can even see it in my sister-in-law’s family. She is the oldest of eight children and there’s a bit of an age gap after #4. From #1 – #4 are all still religious – the younger ones are all irreligious and of course the age gap is centered right on the quiet revolution.

  53. 53
    kemist, Dark Lord of the Sith

    The shift from hardcore Catholicism to rejection of religious dogma in Quebec makes for a very interesting case study for atheism.

    You’d have to factor in too the endemic way children were fondled/abused by the clergy, the way young single mothers were forced to give birth and then abandon their children in catholic orphanages where they were systemically abused and in some cases committed to insane asylums. Add to that the absolute control a parish priest exerted on his constituents by way of public humiliation, and you have ideal conditions to build up resentment.

    In fact my grand parents, in their old age, have often expressed resentment towards the way priests have treated them, even if it had happened at a very young age.

    My maternal grandma for instance was still angry at the age of 85 at the priest who had publicly denounced her as a young girl for riding a bicycle (something girls weren’t supposed to do in case it gave them “ideas”).

  54. 54
    Travis

    itkovian,
    I had a similar shock the first time I went to Seattle. I was living in Vancouver, BC and a friend and I decided to drive down. I had always thought of Washington as being a bit of a liberal place but as soon as we crossed the border I noticed the various signs of religion popping up, billboards, tons of churches. It was really rather surprising and just seemed so different from what I was used to. Then there was the local television and radio stations with their ads for various megachurches and such.

  55. 55
    interrobang

    There was also a lot of collusion in Quebec between the Catholic Church and the damn near fascist Duplessis government, which, as part of its policy programmes, had several thousand orphans involuntarily committed to mental institutions.

    Since the Catholic Church never met a fascist it didn’t like, and Quebec got very tired of La grande noirceur, and the Catholic Church having its fingers in everyone’s pockets all the time, it was only a matter of time (about one generation) before the Catholic Church lost most of its influence in Quebec. (Quebec is also usually much more reliably leftward than any other province; I wish other provinces — like mine — would learn that lesson without, you know, having to elect a Franco-supporting totalist theocrat first.)

  56. 56
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Thy Goddess:

    Because we don’t use the holidays for religious reasons anymore, we don’t feel it’s necessary at all to be PC and for other religions to be offended.

    First of all, the use of the term “PC” is a reliable gauge that the speaker considers it oppressive to be asked not to be an asshole.

    Second, it doesn’t matter whether or not you’re “using the holidays for religious reasons anymore.” I can tell you as someone who didn’t grow up xtian that xmas is certainly not “a holiday for everyone.” It’s a xtian holiday, albeit one with a fair number of pagan trappings. I am sick to death of having it shoved down my throat every year.

    Janine, #29: Thanks for calling that out. Fundie xtianity in the U.S. springs overwhelmingly not from the descendants of Puritans but from those of Scots-Irish borderers.

    Buccal Pump, #38: Thanks for displaying the economic privilege you have to “just go elsewhere.” Many, many women don’t have it. And nobody forced a doctor, pharmacist, or marriage commissioner into their jobs. Can’t serve all citizens like you’re supposed to? Get another fucking job and stop whining.

  57. 57
    Inaji

    Because we don’t use the holidays for religious reasons anymore,

    Gee, it’s wonderful you can speak for every single Canadian, including that 22% of religious ones.

  58. 58
    CorvusCorax

    @kemist

    I still pay via my taxes and give valuable seats in medical schools to people who won’t do their jobs properly.

    You’re doing this for doctors that don’t do their jobs here at all. They move to and practice other provinces, or even countries. Should we force doctors trained here to work here? Might as well with that logic.

    @Ms.Daisy

    Since I’m clearly out of touch with the 99%, please explain to me the economic setbacks that this might cause for women in Alberta.

  59. 59
    kemist, Dark Lord of the Sith

    You’re doing this for doctors that don’t do their jobs here at all. They move to and practice other provinces, or even countries. Should we force doctors trained here to work here? Might as well with that logic.

    Yep, I would. There is already a fine in Quebec for doctors who don’t spend some practicing here after their studies.

    That fine is not nearly high enough. I would require immediate payment of the totality of the cost of their studies plus punitive damage for having wasted a precious seat in a med school, as well as losing their licence to practice in Quebec for life so that when they’re old and medical insurance costs too much in the US, they’ll have to work ordinary jobs like the rest of us to start mooching on our system.

  60. 60
    CorvusCorax

    It’s just a different mindset out here, I guess. Maybe the levels of subsidies are different.

    Here we give incentives (student loan forgiveness, etc) to doctors who stay and practice here, particularly in remote or rural areas. Is that the case in Quebec?

  61. 61
    Markita Lynda—threadrupt

    We seem to have escaped a lot of the evangalism–just lucky, I guess. Quebec, starting out Catholic, has had more time to get sick of priests. But I think the real reason might be the social safety net. We don’t have the grinding poverty, the widespread racial strife (although First Nations people are downtrodden), the gun violence. We go out at night because we think hardly anyone has a gun. We don’t know anyone who’s been shot. We don’t depend on God to save us from illness–we go to the hospital. We have unemployment insurance. Feeling secure makes people need God less.

  62. 62
    Alethea Kuiper-Belt

    Daisy Cutter, Goddess: I may be mistaken, but I read Goddess’ post as describing an attitude rather than advocating for it. That big “HOWEVER” made it look to me like she didn’t entirely approve of what she described. It’s certainly familiar to me – it’s pretty much the default attitude you expect from Australians, too.

    Yes, it has problems – there’s Christian privilege in there for sure. And western/first world privilege. But our solutions tend to be different to the US variety. Schools will have a Christmas tree, but they’ll also have little classroom celebrations of Diwali or Eid or Hannukah. (In the name of multiculturalism.) Renaming the Xmas tree to a Holiday tree is seen here as a bit of a whitewash. You’re not fooling anybody with your bullshit names; it’s still a Christmas tree.

    Much of the commonwealth has taken a Dawkins-style “cultural Christianity” path. We’re westerners; it’s our myth to use however we like. The US secularised Xmas differently; I think because the church power is so much stronger there. Much that seems like harmless tradition to Aussies seems like religious coercion to USAns – and I don’t think that either of us is wrong about that.

  63. 63
    Markita Lynda—threadrupt

    Historically American culture has had a strong anti-intellectual strain, which came partly from self-taught evangelical ministers and which found its way into politics and back into support for religion.

    Kemist, letting people pick and choose which services they will provide and to whom violates their customers’ civil rights. Pharmacists are in business to fill prescriptions. Doctors are there to provide legal medical services. Churches, being private clubs, can discriminate, but government officiants cannot.

    In small communities, the church is the centre of a great deal of social cooperation and communication, which probably leads to greater attendance whether or not people believe.

    As far as holidays go, there’s been a labour consensus that there should be set public holidays so that families can have time off together; but another solution might be to give everyone ten more days off and let them choose when to use them and whether to get together.

  64. 64
    timgueguen

    Givem the way things are going in most of Canada most businesses are open most days of the year anyways, with the exception of Easter Sunday nad Christmas Day. I suspect even Easter Sunday won’t be much of a everything closed day as it used to be as the years go on.

    We do of course have our own bunch of right wing religious types, and with the current government their influence is higher than it has been. But they don’t get the same amount of kid gloves treatment as they do in the US. When it became well known then Canadian Alliance leader Stockwell Day is a believer in Young Earth Creationism there was a lot of mockery of this, including Flintstones references. Stephen Harper has gone to great lengths to control what his caucus members have said about issues like abortion and gay marriage, knowing Canadian attitudes towards these issues tend not to follow the conservative Christian line some of his MPs hold to.

  65. 65
    kemist, Dark Lord of the Sith

    It’s just a different mindset out here, I guess. Maybe the levels of subsidies are different.

    They are. Quebec universities have the lowest tuition rates in Canada.

    Our MDs get their studies done at low cost, on government interest-free loan and/or scholarships, which is a good thing in itself. But when they start getting libertarian on our asses, well, it’s time to take back.

    MDs shouldn’t be entrepreneurs, and they don’t have to be in a public health care system. It should be clear to all students entering medicine. You’ll be very well paid, but your licence is a priviledge granted by the state in order to serve the population, not for the purpose of padding your bank account.

  66. 66
    kemist, Dark Lord of the Sith

    Here we give incentives (student loan forgiveness, etc) to doctors who stay and practice here, particularly in remote or rural areas. Is that the case in Quebec?

    Ah, yes, there’s also the carrot as well as the stick.

    Doctors who choose to practice in areas with pressing needs will often get bonuses.

  67. 67
    kemist, Dark Lord of the Sith

    Kemist, letting people pick and choose which services they will provide and to whom violates their customers’ civil rights.

    Well, I am arguing against that (the “right of conscience” thing) and quite radically. I guess your reply was adressed to Buccal Pump.

  68. 68
    theobromine

    Given the way things are going in most of Canada most businesses are open most days of the year anyways, with the exception of Easter Sunday and Christmas Day. I suspect even Easter Sunday won’t be much of a everything closed day as it used to be as the years go on.

    Here in Ottawa (Canada’s capital), most everything was closed today (“Good” Friday) – banks, beer and liquor stores, grocery stores, hardware stores, department stores, even many drugstores.

    As for the discussion of what pharmacists should sell, I think that they need to be provided with some discretion – for example, many pharmacies do not carry narcotics because of safety concerns. On the other hand, it should be illegal for a pharmacist to decide to dispense contraception only to married people, for example.

  69. 69
    Amphiox

    Here in Ottawa (Canada’s capital), most everything was closed today (“Good” Friday) – banks, beer and liquor stores, grocery stores, hardware stores, department stores, even many drugstores.

    Ah, but we have to look at the reason all those stores are closed today. Is it for the sake of honoring a religious holiday, or is it because all the employees wanted (and their unions successfully negotiated for) a day of holiday, for primarily secular reasons?

  70. 70
    Amphiox

    Here we give incentives (student loan forgiveness, etc) to doctors who stay and practice here, particularly in remote or rural areas. Is that the case in Quebec?

    Some provinces have tried to negotiate contracts with medical students/residents, wherein they get financial aid for their education fees in exchange for agreeing stay in the province and practice in an underserviced area for a specified period of time after getting their degrees (the hope ultimately being that in that time period the put down roots in the community and end up staying relatively permanently).

    Incidentally, underserviced areas aren’t just remote/rural regions. Some of the most underserviced areas are in suburbia.

  71. 71
    Alethea Kuiper-Belt

    Amphiox, it can be both. Unions negotiate for holidays because we need holidays, but for historical reasons the actual holidays we got first are the Christian religious ones.

    Most of Australia used to close for Good Friday. It’s still a public holiday, but our supermarket was open and selling grog.

  72. 72
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Buccal Pump:

    Since I’m clearly out of touch with the 99%, please explain to me the economic setbacks that this might cause for women in Alberta.

    Yeah, because having economic privilege always equals being among the 1%. Or maybe your problem is actually male privilege, in that you don’t regularly have to deal with other people trying to police your body and making “devil’s advocate” arguments on behalf of all sorts of wankers who want to do just that.

    If you’re in a rural area, you may have to travel a long way to reach a physician’s office. Travel costs money, and you may not have that money. If you’re employed, you’ll have to ask for time off. You may have to arrange childcare, or additional childcare above and beyond what you normally have.

    Now imagine traveling to that physician’s office and being told you can’t get the birth control you need because the physician doesn’t believe in it.

    Alethea: That is not how I read Thy Goddess’s comment. I read it as her being perfectly fine with that state of affairs. The term “PC” is what confirms it for me.

    We’re westerners; it’s our myth to use however we like.

    I’m a Westerner, too. It’s not my myth.

  73. 73
    Alethea Kuiper-Belt

    Well, until she turns up and explains, we’re kind of stuck. “PC” is part of the common complaint, though. Where my Australian version said “bullshit”, it could equally have said PC. The right would say “PC” to have an extra dig at what they see as trendy lefties and their silly fads like caring about anyone’s feelings.

  74. 74
    Alethea Kuiper-Belt

    BTW, Daisy, as to “not my myth”, I’d be curious as to what you see is “your myth”. Personally I think I can lay claim by ancestry to the bible, the Mabinogion and King Arthur. And by neighbourhood and history, the Norse and Classical pantheons. With a dash of dreamtime by adoption, though that does require caution. Slavic legends, and further afield into Asia and Africa and the Americas are things I would not describe as “my myth”. Jewish is also not mine, though we do have some common stories.

    And what do I mean by “mine”? Well, I guess something that I have enough cultural connections to license me to play around with it. To make a cephalopod nativity or a Cthulhu Xmas tree, or write a fantasy novel using Xian or Celtic themes, or a comical song about Boadicea. To sing Xmas carols which talk about Jesus and all the fun and creepy stuff in that mythos.

    But I’d feel pretty awkward and a bit wrong using other culture’s stories in such play. I have no idea what it would even mean to make a raptor-Ganesha or to trim a menorah with squid.

  75. 75
    McCthulhu, now with -25% less fat.

    It’s not hard to figure out why Quebec is even more blasé about religion than other segments of Canada. Most of their tradition is based on diminishing memories of France. The main religion in France is Catholicism. What atrocities has the RCC been guilty of lately that is in all the newspapers? Full points if you start naming off several different things in addition to the obvious one.

    They may have a bit of gastronomic dementia in La Belle Province, evidenced by the consumption of poutine, but they’re certainly not a stupid people. Now if they would start phoning up their rellies down on the bayou, and ask them what the hell they’re thinking, you could see the beginnings of an atheist movement begin in the least likely spot imaginable in the US…the old South.

  76. 76
    nms

    Second, it doesn’t matter whether or not you’re “using the holidays for religious reasons anymore.” I can tell you as someone who didn’t grow up xtian that xmas is certainly not “a holiday for everyone.” It’s a xtian holiday, albeit one with a fair number of pagan trappings. I am sick to death of having it shoved down my throat every year.

    Thank you for correcting this straying French Canadian with your definitive American wisdom.

  77. 77
    FossilFishy (NOBODY, and proud of it!)

    Most of Australia used to close for Good Friday. It’s still a public holiday, but our supermarket was open and selling grog.

    All the big chain store here in my small, rural town were closed this Good Friday but a lot of the small businesses were open, my own included. And it was a very busy day indeed, thank you very much. ;)

    Mind you, there are a lot of folks of Italian heritage here and the Catholic church is pretty well attended so I commonly meet with a bit of incredulity when I tell locals that I’ll be open right through the long weekend.

  78. 78
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Fuck off, nms. Not everybody in Quebec is of French descent. You don’t get to speak for them.

    Alethea, going by ancestry, I would be laying claim to Jewish folklore and religious myths. I don’t have a problem “playing around” with xtian culture, since I grew up as a religious minority in that culture, but it’s not really mine. I’d say more or less the same thing of the various mythological pantheons of ancient Europe. Like you, I would cavil to do so with the mythologies of existing peoples who do not enjoy any sort of cultural hegemony.

  79. 79
    frenchy

    As a Quebecer myself, I had suspected this a long time ago. As a previous commenter said, we had in the 60′s a social upheaval, dubbed “the Quiet revolution”, La”Révolution Tranquille”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Quiet_Revolution

    This movement was prompted by a reaction against the near total control of the province by the Catholic Church, and the all too common abuses that came with it. I remember my dad telling me about teachers berating them on Monday morning if they hadn’t been to church on Sunday, and the Brothers that taught them in school having sexually inappropriate behavior towards their pupils . Goes without saying that corporeal punishment was accepted as a normal and acceptable part of school. Comedians having to call the Diocese before saying any “risqué” jokes. Today, the expression of religiosity in politics in Quebec is tantamount to political suicide.

    The socially inferior position of the French also produced one of the highest rates of Unionization in the Americas. Stories of grown men standing in line at factories while the owners (almost always Anglos) of the factory would walk in front of them with a dog, and then picking the ones to work that day in front of whom the dog barked, really happened.

    Martin, Gatineau, Quebec

  80. 80
    poppaneedsanap

    the fact that a Canadian team hasn’t won the Stanley Cup since 1993 proves there is no god!

  81. 81
    kemist, Dark Lord of the Sith

    They may have a bit of gastronomic dementia in La Belle Province, evidenced by the consumption of poutine,

    A dig at poutine ?

    This means war.

    *drops glove and fills watergun with brown sauce*

  82. 82
    kemist, Dark Lord of the Sith

    the fact that a Canadian team hasn’t won the Stanley Cup since 1993 proves there is no god!

    Nope. There are gods, and they play hockey.

    It justs means the forces of good have had a setback. Kind of a “tribulation” thing.

    Seriously, the most “religious” Quebecers will get is about hockey. Just see how people from my place (Quebec city) are all excited about getting the Nordiques back. It’s more popular than the second coming.

  83. 83
    Amphiox

    the fact that a Canadian team hasn’t won the Stanley Cup since 1993 proves there is no god!

    Nah. That just means that the American hockey gods are more powerful than the Canadian ones.

    Because Americans pray harder, and as well all know, gods need prayer badly….

  84. 84
    markabbott

    Unfortunately, there’s still plenty of crazy here in the Great White North. My daughter’s biology teacher here in Florenceville, New Brunswick is teaching intelligent design with the aid of some videos from The Discovery Institute. He’s even putting on a special series after school hours for any other students who aren’t in his class, but still want their brains petrified. My complaints were dismissed.

    I live in hotbed of delusion.

  85. 85
    McCthulhu, now with -25% less fat.

    markabbott:

    More unfortunately for the teacher (unless they’re teaching in a private school) is that they are still required to stick to provincial curriculum. Contact your MLA regarding your complaint, you may get a bit better mileage with that fuel in your tank.

  86. 86
    Godless Poutine

    Just a quick note that Justin Trottier (attempted) to cite this survey in a recent “interview/debate” with a lackey over at Sun News. Sun News channel is the Canadian equivalent to Fox News — it’s so crazy I know quite a few Conservatives who think it’s batty.

    Attack of the Atheists!

    The interviewer quickly flashes some other survey on the screen while blasting down Justin. I’ll do some research on that one. I’m guessing Sun News is likely in the same universe as Fox News…

  87. 87
    Godless Poutine

    Further confirmation of the original survey. Looks like Canadians are starting to wake up that they are not as religious as they thought, but they still believe in a god — deists maybe?

    Religion not important to most Canadians, although majority believe in God: poll

  88. 88
    Thomathy, Gay Where it Counts

    theobromine @ #68

    Here in Ottawa (Canada’s capital), most everything was closed today (“Good” Friday) – banks, beer and liquor stores, grocery stores, hardware stores, department stores, even many drugstores.

    Of course the LCBO (Liquor store) and the Beer Store (beer store) we closed on Good Friday (they were also closed on Easter Sunday). Those are statutory holidays and the LCBO and Beer Store are unionised, with collective agreements that mandate being closed on statutory holidays, with pay naturally -it is also no coincidence that the LCBO and Beer Store are both Crown Corporations (meaning the employees are public employees). It has nothing to do with those days also being of some religious significance, that’s a coincidence.

    You’ll have noticed that all banks, government offices and the like were also closed. Such places are closed, in fact, on all holidays, statutory or not, religious or otherwise, provincial or federal.

    Amphiox @ 69

    Ah, but we have to look at the reason all those stores are closed today. Is it for the sake of honouring a religious holiday, or is it because all the employees wanted (and their unions successfully negotiated for) a day of holiday, for primarily secular reasons?

    It’s the latter. Public employees hate working on holidays, but like getting paid. I speak from experience.

    Amphiox, it can be both. Unions negotiate for holidays because we need holidays, but for historical reasons the actual holidays we got first are the Christian religious ones.

    Well, in Canada it’s less of a collective bargaining thing and more of an established practice that public employees do not work on holidays. I’m sure in some unionised environments they have bargained for those days off, but that’s not the case generally and for bankers, for instance, who are not unionised and who do get those days off, I believe that it is due to legislation.

    It’s true that some of our holidays are religious in origin, but 4 of the 12 in the year are definitely not religious and, frankly, the 8 that are seem rather anachronistic to me. I mean, Ontario just willy-nilly established a holiday called ‘Family Day’ to take place every third Monday in February. To some of those non-orthodox Christians, I’m sure those 8 religiously inspired holidays are quite specially religious to them, but they are secular holidays anymore.

    Interestingly (or not, but whatever), for religious accommodation (in Ontario; I’m unsure of other provinces), the religious can take paid leave from work to observe their own religious holidays a part from the secular holidays up to 2 times a year.

    This year I took Chinese New Year as a paid religious holiday, for instance. I need to find another religion with a holiday that falls on a Monday or Friday for another long weekend sometime later this year when I really need a long weekend. (Suggestions are welcomed.)

    As it is, most businesses can operate on every holiday of the year, they just have to compensate their employees for working on a holiday. Usually, as I remember my part-time days during university, that’s at a rate of time and a half.

    And OT, I’m happy for the results of this survey. Now, to convince StatsCan to include an explicit question with appropriate choices to answer from on their next survey. Hmm …oh right, Harper eviscerated StatsCan. Too bad.

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