CFI’s Broad Mandate: Debating a Christian Canada followed by Major Coverage of Skeptical Programs

January 12, 2010

I thought I'd pass on some links to recent CFI media hits in Canada.  Last Friday I appeared on Strictly Right Radio on a panel arguing whether Canada is a Christian nation and whether we should be.  It’s a web-based political talk show that tackles issues from a conservative point of view, and a Christian perspective. Apparently they get some 13,000 listeners on their Friday show and another 100,000 downloads during the week.  Listen online at Strictly Rights Radio   (its Episode 5). 

The panel was 2 in favour of a Christian nation, namely Edward Wooley and Matthew O’brien, versus 2 opposed, namely Conservative college campus activist Brittany D’Arcy and myself.  The debate devolved quickly into a heated exchange between Wooley and myself, since both O’brien and D’Arcy weren’t terribly vocal.  It was interesting to witness how the use of so-called trivial elements of religiosity in such things as our Canadian national anthem and preamble to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (both invoke god though neither invocation have true legal force) were tossed around as though they somehow legitimize the establishment of a Christian country and more deep Christian values.  I had to make the case for the fact that the inclusion of religiosity in these places were symbolic but not foundational, while insisting that because secular values were foundation god should be removed from these more tangential areas where he unjustly remains.

Then on Saturday, we received rather flattering coverage in the Montreal Gazette:  Skeptics of the world unite - for real:   Montreal branch promotes science, holds discussions .  I especially liked how our science and critical thinking programs were the focus of the piece:

At a national level, CFI Canada has a strong focus on political advocacy, including the separation of church and state and science education.  But things are different in Montreal, as Sagos said the secular movement is already strong in the city.  “We’re really prioritizing skepticism and critical investigation into the universe more than some of the other branches, which tend to be more interested in atheism and religious criticism,” Trottier said.  Sagos said that in Montreal, there is “a great opportunity … to promote science in a wide sense, the way science informs art, music and culture in general, not just the kind of narrow boring, professorial view that often gets perpetrated.”

Indeed, because Canada is (thankfully) less inundanted with fundamentalism, especially certain highly secular areas like Quebec and BC, in those regions we are prioritizing science education and critical thinking.  It was nice to see a major Quebec newspaper playing up that angle, and we look forward to putting our money where our mouth is.