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MONTREAL, September 10, 2013 ( – Montreal's Archbishop denounced the Marois government’s proposed Charter of Values yesterday — one day before its release — calling the ban on conspicuous religious symbols worn by public workers a violation of rights.

“I think it is a violation of the right to have a religion, and to be religious. Because it is not only about private religion, private life. It's also about public life,” said Archbishop Christian Lépine, according to CBC News.


Lépine, who has a strong reputation as an advocate for life and family values, called the charter “excessive” for attempting to control people’s expression of faith in the public sphere.

“When you want to contain the visibility of faith, you are saying to people: ‘You cannot be all you are,” he said in an interview with Global News.

Lépine said that the charter’s proposal for religious neutrality and secularism is simply another name for non-religious values that would be imposed by a few on everyone. Such a move would not be respectful nor democratic, he said.

“Normally if you talk about a charter, it’s about a charter of rights that gives space to different belief systems, so in that sense I don’t see this as a charter, it’s more of a credo,” he said to CBC News.

The Charter of Values, released today, would forbid judges down to daycare workers from wearing “overt and conspicuous” religious symbols. Public employees will be forbidden from wearing large and visible religious symbols, including crucifixes, hijabs, burkas, kippas, veils and turbans. Wearing small religious symbols however, such as a tiny crucifix around the neck, or a small ring with the star of David, or an earring with a religious symbol, appears to be permitted.

But Lépine said that government should not decide for people what they are to wear.

“I don’t think we have to be in the business to decide what people wear. People have their own way of expressing a belief.”

The Conservative government has declared that it will challenge the charter, to be voted on in the legislature this fall if it is deemed a violation to religious freedom.