Constitutional Amendment

Okay, I’ve missed something.

Today on the talk radio station, there was some …uh… talk of “what would you say if Atheists bought advertising on billboards?”

I can only assume this has something to do with the now fairly-old news story about Atheists purchasing advertising space on city buses in the UK. Of course, Christians (and, I would suppose, Jews and Muslims and Hindus and any other religious group that believes in the existence of imaginary super-beings) got up in arms about the thing. Christians are always the most vociferous about this sort of thing in Western countries. And, unfortunately, if a Muslim says anything about anything in this environment, s/he is immediately branded as a terrorist or a hate-mongerer or worse. So let’s just deal with the Christians.

As could be expected, the Roman Catholic church is pretty peevish about the idea that adverts on public transit might make people question their own Faith and belief systems; their own value systems, perhaps…maybe even so far as the bases for their understanding of morality. The Roman Catholic church and other Christian organisations have, of course, banded together to try to get these adverts removed. The point I want to make now is that the Commandment is “Thou shalt have no other Gods before Me”, and not “Thou shalt not not have any God at all”. Semantics are important.

IT’s becoming an issue in Canada, I guess, because there are Central Canadians who are Very Concerned now that the campaign has come to Toronto. Folks in Ottawa are trying to have the adverts banned before they even get there. I should say off the bat that “Freedom OF Religion” is a Constitutionally-protected right. Freedom FROM Religion is not. That’s an extremely important teeny little pronoun preposition. And it’s a pronoun that needs to be included in our Constitution. Canadians should have the constitutionally-protected right to worship in whatever way they see fit, provided their worship does more good than harm. Canadians should also have the constitutionally-protected right to choose not to worship anything at all. Currently, we do not have that right.

Now, I also want to say something else.

Where are the Roman Catholic and other denominational protestors when there are adverts on buses that show women in various (degrading and/or offensive) stages of undress, promoting fornication and covetousness of neighbours’ asses all over the place? Where are the Christians asking that all images of Jesus (and Mary, and anybody else with a fricken’ halo-head) be removed from all billboards, bus ads, leaflets, greeting cards, dashboard buddies, lawn ornaments, keychains, shirts, bumper stickers, underpants, crucifixes, lunch boxes, running shoes, etc., etc., etc.,? Where are all the Christians refusing to go shopping on the Sabbath? Refusing to work and refusing to eat at restaurants? Any takers on that one? And let’s just see how many Christians are willing to stand up and say “no, please don’t show any advertising at all, not on my television, not on my buses, not in my newspaper, and certainly not on my radio, because advertising promotes covetousness. It makes you want those things you do not have. And if we only take as much as we need; if we only take *enough*, then there is more than enough for everyone in the world three times over.” Where are those Christians?

You should be *pleased* that there are challenges to the way you worship and what you choose to believe. Because when people make *informed* choices, they tend to make life-long choices. Brainwashing Inundating children with your own particular brand of crazy only lasts as long as your children continue to use you as their primary and only source of information (and believe you me, the thought of my children being old enough to not ask me first kind of scares the shit out of me). If you teach them *why* you believe what you do, and let them make their own choices, you might be disappointed in the end, but you also might be pleasantly surprised. Regardless, if someone changes their opinion on their Faith based on an advert they see on a bus, chances are *really* good they weren’t all that serious about it in the first place.

So lay off. Go and promote your (or our, for that matter) religious beliefs somewhere else. You have every right to kneel wherever you want (except in government buildings, unless you have special access privileges), whenever you want, and offer your supplications to whatever deity(/ies) you wish. That is your right. And while it is not yet a constitutionally-enshrined right for you or for your neighbour to choose not to bend a knee, you should, if you expect them to respect your Faith and your belief system, at least accept that they believe something different.

Your atheism isn’t going to change my knowledge that God exists, and your disbelief (and, in some cases, open mockery) of my religious belief isn’t going to change the way(s) in which I worship. Likewise, my belief in an invisible super-power isn’t going to change your knowledge that there is no God. I’m okay with that. Spend all the money you want on bus ads. If my kids come to me and say “Mum, I saw on a bus today that God doesn’t exist; WTF?”, I will tell them, “Some people believe different things. I *know* God exists, and I know it is the truth. You have to find your own way to the truth. I’ll help you if you’d like, and I’ll try to help you without influencing your decision. But it has to be your decision.”

cenobyte
cenobyte is a writer, editor, blogger, and super genius from Saskatchewan, Canada.

13 Comments

  1. And if one teaches their children well enough, and they /still/ decide not to believe, at least there’s a chance they might be left with a lasting respect for the faith of their foremothers.I might be an atheist, but I have a great deal of respect for Christians of the same ilk as my mother, and for the tenets of the faith in general.

  2. I think for me the biggest issue here is that no one is protesting my right to not be exposed to the religious advertising that happens on the part of Christians. We all practice freedom of religion in this country and in the country where this advertising is taken place. Somehow, no one seems to be addressing the idea that Christian advertising and propoganda is everywhere. What is good for the goose is good for the gander. If we take away one religion’s right to advertise, we should take them all away.For years I, and people like me, have been expected to either turn a blind eye or to succumb to the constant religious crap being tossed at us. Why can Christians not do the same?

  3. There’s a some wacky church near where my folks used to live that had the best messages on its board. My favourite was “Sign Broken. Message within.”

  4. M, that’s *exactly* what I’m saying. We have freedom OF religion, but not freedom FROM religion.In fact, Christians aren’t supposed to, according to our own Commandments (revised edition; thanks for that, Moses), produce images of ‘anything in the heavens, or on the earth under it, or in the waters under the earth’. So, really, the most we should be doing is putting up bus ads that say “God. He’s invisible. Isn’t that COOL!?”…actually, that’s a damned good advert there… black text on a white background…bloody GENIUS, I am.

  5. Here here cenobyte… but one small amendment.The Freedom of Religion in section 2 of the Charter, has been held to include a freedom not to worship.

  6. I know that’s what you were saying. I just needed to jump in with my two cents and say “YAH! What SHE SAID.”That’s why I loves ya.

  7. “That’s an extremely important teeny little pronoun.”According to what my grammar teachers told me, to and from aren’t pronouns. I wouldn’t bother to point this out to anyone but you, because you know so much more about grammar than I do that I’d like to know if they lied to me. I thought “he”, “she”, “I”, “them” were pronouns, and “to” and “from” were prepositions? (And if not, I’ve been completely misinterpreting the “do not end a sentence with a preposition” rule).

  8. YAY!!!NOW DO YOU UNDERSTAND THE STAGGERING POWER CENOBYTE WIELDS!??BWAH! BWAH HA HA HA HA!That’s right, Stevie Haitch. THAAAAT’S right. I changed the CONSTITUTION by using only the POWER OF MY MIND. You can’t hide now, Steve. It’s you and me. (Will someone *please* cue up <>The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly<>?)

  9. Parmeisan: Yup. That’s EXACTLY what it is. It’s like when I look at you and call you by your husband’s name. How effed up is *that*?

  10. Of course, while I have the right to freedom from religion, I am still in many ways at the whims of the tyranny of the majority. A majority that seems to think that it is EEEEEEVIL to put an Atheist advert on the side of a bus. Good grief I hate stupid people sometimes, and am glad that the smart ones wrote our Constitution.Man, I SO want to get a Pastafarian ad on the side of a bus now. I can just imagine: Michaelangelo’s David, only with the Flying Spagetti Monster. “Touched By His Noodly Appendage”.

  11. Geekwad: No, I don’t. Until I made this post, I didn’t know that the Charter had an amendment that also declared Canadians have freedom FROM religion. Which is to say, I don’t think the Charter ever said we *must* worship. It *did*, however, say that we have the right to worship in whichever way we wished. What it didn’t make clear was that we *also* have the right to not worship at all. Apparently, that’s changed (there I go, not doing my homework again). Meaning, that while Canadians have always had the *unspoken and unprotected* right not to worship, it’s not, until recently, been enshrined as an ACTUAL right under which one could make a legal argument that their rights were being abused.

  12. Iron Troll: I do take offense to your inference that because I believe in God I am a stupid person. or maybe you’re just using the word ‘stupid’ in a way I am not familiar with.

i make squee noises when you tell me stuff.

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