The New York Times recently told the story of Maha Kassef, an elementary school teacher in Montreal who, like many teachers, dreams of one day being a principal. That dream may never happen, and for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with her qualifications.
Quebec’s new government recently proposed a law that would bar public employees, such as teachers and police officers, from wearing religious symbols while at work.
Thus, a Muslim like Kassef could not wear a hijab or headscarf. A Jew would be forbidden to wear a yarmulke; a Sikh a turban; and a Christian a cross.
While Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedom says that freedom of “conscience and religion” is “fundamental,” the Quebec government has invoked the “notwithstanding clause,” which allows federal and provincial governments to temporarily override some provisions of the Charter.
Under the proposal, current employees like Kassef would be “grandfathered” and could continue to wear their headscarves, turbans, or crosses. But if they ever changed jobs or sought a promotion, the new provisions would then apply to them as well.
François Legault, the premier of Quebec, continues to insist that, despite the proposal, Quebeckers remain free to practice their religion. He also maintains that the proposal represents the values and desires of the people of the province.
That sort of reasoning should sound familiar to those of us south of the Canadian border. Most infringements on religious freedom here in the U.S. also come with an insistence that people are still free to practice their religion, just not in the workplace. And just like the Quebec proposal, infringements here are often justified by an appeal to some “values.”
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SOURCE: Christian Post, John Stonestreet and Roberto Rivera