QUEBEC, September 20, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Quebec government is pulling out all the stops in their effort to convince Quebecers of the merits of the newly proposed and controversial “secular” Charter of Values.
In a $2 million ad campaign that began last week, Premier Pauline Marois' government argues that the “religious neutrality of the state” is “equally sacred” to the “tabernacle,” “ciborium,” “Synagogue, Mosque, Church,” and the “Koran, Torah, and Bible”.
The slogan driving the campaign is: “Because one believes in one’s values.” Thus far the campaign consists of a bilingual website, brochures mailed to Quebecers, radio ads, and YouTube videos.
The Parti Quebecois’ charter of values would forbid public employees, from judges down to daycare workers, from wearing “overt and conspicuous” religious symbols.
The proposed legislation has been condemned not only by religious leaders across the country, but from all sides of the political spectrum, in Quebec and nationally.
Prime Minister Harper said on Tuesday that the federal government is prepared to challenge the charter if it passes this fall, when the minority PQ government is expected to table a bill.
Quebec’s Assembly of Catholic Bishops strongly criticized the proposed charter this week.
“At the spiritual and religious level people are free to believe or not to believe,” said Bishop Pierre-André Fournier, President of the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Quebec, adding that while a state may have no “official religion”, it should have “no official atheism either”.
“That's neutrality,” he said in a Sept. 19 press conference. “The State respects what people experience and express. If it is really neutral, it will even take measures to ensure that people can live their faith or unbelief and speak freely.
“Neutrality and secularism do not exist to restrict the development of religion, but to create an environment where each person has actual freedom of conscience and religion.”
Bishop Fournier told reporters at the press conference that the push for a more secular state could backfire, creating division and disunity.
“The more you try to have an identity by pushing back others, the more you create ghettos,” he said.
Two polls this week indicate a precipitous drop in Quebec public support for the charter, with less than half of Quebecers now showing support.