Canadian society cannot tolerate religious censorship

Published February 1, 1999

Editorial from The Chronicle-Herald, published: Jan. 12, 1999 IT APPEARS the casualty list of the crash off Peggy’s Cove of Swissair Flight 111 is greater than official figures indicate.

In addition to the 229 victims, the rights to freedom of religion and freedom of speech in Canada seem to have suffered serious injury.

Memorial services held shortly after the crash saw representatives of several religious faiths invited to officiate.

Among the participants was Rev. Carolyn Nicholson of Halifax, a United Church minister whose invitation through the federal government’s protocol office restricted her role to one in which she was not to mention Jesus Christ or read from the New Testament.

That, of course, is an act of censorship. As such, it cannot be tolerated in Canadian society.

Ms. Nicholson was asked to give the invocation and the blessing, something exceedingly difficult for a Christian minister to do given the restrictions imposed by Ottawa.

A number of concerned individuals have requested an explanation. Indeed, the public has a right to know why the protocol office or any other agency of government is seeking to control the religious expressions of Canadians.

Since the clergy of other religions also participated in the ecumenical service, it would be interesting to know if they were also subjected to restrictions like those imposed on Ms. Nicholson.

This matter and its implications are sufficiently serious to merit a more detailed explanation, even from Prime Minister Jean Chretien himself.

Frankly, it is surprising and disappointing that members of Parliament from this province are not raising the issue.

Re-printed with permission from the Halifax Herald, Halifax, NS.


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