The Canadian International Council sent me another mass mailing to promote their new debate series entitled: "The New Missionaries: Should Canada Promote Religious Freedom Abroad?" (http://www.opencanada.org/the_new_missionaries/). It certainly gets off on the wrong foot with the reference to "new missionaries." The Government of Canada clearly has no intention to proselytize religion domestically or internationally. So why is the CIC being so wrong-headed in framing the debate in this way?
I think the bottom line is that for the majority of the people of the world who are people of faith the importance of the freedom to practice their faith openly and without fear of harassment is self-evident. This is because for people of faith there is nothing more important than their faith. They are prepared to suffer imprisonment, deprivation, death rather than give up the precious belief that defines their lives, identities and souls. Nothing is more painful to them than the desecration of their holy places and the violation of their religious symbols and sacred objects.
These facts are evidently troubling to some who lack faith in their lives. They therefore deride the noble project of the Government of Canada to make promotion of religious freedom a central priority in Canadian foreign policy They attempt to reduce it to banal political motives.
They are wrong about this.