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Presbytery of montreal responds to charter of values: calls on quebec government to withdraw bill 60.

The Presbytery of Montreal has called on the government of Quebec and the National Assembly to withdraw or defeat Bill 60, the controversial Quebec Charter of Values, which if passed would bar employees in the public service from wearing conspicuous religious symbols such as hijabs and kippahs.


"This approach represents a militant secularism that fails to honour the diverse population of Quebec and fails to acknowledge the role of dialogue and openness within a liberal democratic state," the presbytery stated in the document it approved on Jan. 21. "The approach of Bill 60, we conclude, reflects an oppressive ' and dogmatic secularism that seeks the disappearance from public view and public life of those who inhabit particular religious traditions."

Although critical of the bill and its "deeper assumptions about religious faith and secularism/neutrality," the presbytery also included in its response a series of affirmations on matters of Quebec's identity, uniqueness, diversity and the ideal of a secular state in which "no church or religious body has any power to make laws or define social policy."

The response was commended by the Committee on Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations, a standing committee of the General Assembly, during its meeting in Toronto on Feb. 3 and 4.

Bill 60 was introduced by the governing Parti Quebecois last year and it has drawn support and criticism within the province and from religious and secular groups across the country.

It tops the list of priorities in the PQ's platform for Quebec's April 7 election.

Most of the concern and criticism of the bill have surrounded article five, the section that aims to keep public sector workers from wearing "conspicuous" religious symbols. Smaller religious symbols would be permitted on items such as rings and earrings. Elected officials would be exempt from the ban, and it would not extend to religious, symbols like the crucifix on the wall in Quebec's National Assembly. That particular Catholic symbol is a part of the province's heritage, the government has argued.

In its response, the Presbytery of Montreal encouraged the government to remove the crucifix saying "the presence of this crucifix gives the impression that the National Assembly grants fealty to the crucified Jesus and to the church that would honour and follow him."

The complete text of the presbytery's response is available in English and French at *

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Title Annotation:Community and World News
Author:Wardle, Connie
Publication:Presbyterian Record
Geographic Code:1CQUE
Date:Apr 1, 2014
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