But apparently the Canadian Christians (in this case, it's mostly Catholics) take their cues straight from the same playbook as Americans. When it comes to religious discrimination, they're in the big leagues.
The city council of Saguenay, Quebec refused to take a crucifix down from the City Council's chambers. It took a lawsuit from a local atheist and a court order to settle the issue. But is it settled? No. The mayor still refuses to take the crucifix down! Not only that, he's vowed to fight the court order and has started privately gathering funds for the battle.
But what's even more amazing is that he's claiming discrimination!
"Why is it us Christians that always have to bend?" [Mayor] Tremblay told the Globe and Mail newspaper. "Our values have no importance. I am the first mayor in the history of the world to be punished for reciting a prayer."Sorry, Mr. Mayor, but Christians have been killing each other for 2,000 years for reciting the wrong prayers. In fact, after Christianity was legalized in ancient Rome in AD 313, more Christians were killed by other Christians than the Romans had killed in the previous 150 years of persecution. I'll bet there was a mayor or two in there somewhere.
The thing that bugs me the most is the way these people keep using the Underdog Meme. It's the idea that somehow Christians, who make up 96% of the town's population, are being persecuted. It's laughable on the face of it. But it's also effective. People fall for it.
It's also a perfect illustration of this meme. Humans instinctively will band together and forget their differences when faced with an outside foe. George Bush and his cronies knew this all too well. They kept America in a constant state of paranoia by keeping their bogeyman, Osama bin Laden, highly visible.
The Underdog Meme for religion does the same thing: it makes people feel attacked so that they band together more tightly. The Underdog Meme fosters the idea that Christianity is a persecuted minority under attack. It claims that everyone is out to get Christians. It somehow works even in places where Christians make up the vast majority of the population and control the political machinery.
Many religions have a strong Underdog Meme because it works. In the classic survival-of-the-fittest fashion, religions that foster paranoia are religions that survive. The Mayor of Saguenay learned this lesson well and is using it with great effect.
But it won't fly. The truth is that Mayor Tremblay and the Saguenay City Council are the ones who are trampling on the rights of non-Christians. All citizens should have the right to address the government without having someone else's religion thrown in their faces. It's just common sense, and it's the law.
These Saguenay Catholics are unrepentant about forcing their religion on Jews, atheists, Muslims and people of other faiths. Apparently they don't understand nor believe in freedom of religion. Alas, my stereotype that Canadians are all open-minded progressives is shattered. It sure doesn't apply to these Catholics! They're just like their American counterparts. They still believe they have a lock on morality and truth. They think that a meeting of grown men and women won't be productive unless they recite incantations to their deity beforehand, and hang an idol of him being tortured on the wall for everyone to admire.
But I will say one thing about this story: I learned about a new place. Saguenay, Quebec actually sounds quite interesting. It has about 143,000 residents and is WAY up north, roughly 200 kilometers north of Quebec City. Wikipedia says Saguenay "can be described as an isolated 'oasis' in the middle of the vast remote wilderness of Northern Quebec ... the last roads north end just a short distance from the city... There are no human settlements due north of Saguenay all the way to the Canadian Arctic island..."
If I'm ever up that way, maybe I'll stop in for a visit. It actually sounds like a nice place.