Paul Tuns:

The Canadian Human Rights Commission published “A Discussion Paper on Religious Tolerance” that singles out religious holidays such as Christmas and Easter as a remnant of colonialism that privileges Christians over those of other faiths.

The CHRC paper noted that the “ability of an individual to freely practice their religion is a fundamental human right,” enshrined in both international and domestic law, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The paper stated that, “Religious intolerance impedes the ability of Canadian society to be democratic, welcoming, openminded, and accepting.”

Religious intolerance includes a wide range of attitudes and behaviours, the paper states, from microaggressions and lack of accommodations to vandalism of religious buildings, hate speech, and physical violence.

The anonymously written paper states, “To address religious intolerance, it is critical to raise awareness and understanding about the various forms it takes in Canada.” The CHRC paper asserts that “our own” society “places values on (certain) traits” and thus privileges those traits over others. Among the traits the CHRC paper says are valued in Canadian society are “white, male, Christian, English-speaking, thin/fit, not having a disability, heterosexual, (and) gender conforming.” The paper further asserts that “discrimination against religious minorities in Canada is grounded in colonialism” and “Canada’s history with religious intolerance is deeply rooted in our identity as a settler colonial state.” This intolerance “manifests itself in present-day systemic religious discrimination.”

The CHRC paper states “an obvious example” of this remnant of colonialism and systemic religious discrimination are statutory holidays in Canada. The paper complains, “Statutory holidays related to Christianity, including Christmas and Easter, are the only Canadian statutory holidays linked to religious holy days.

The paper said, “As a result, non-Christians may need to request special accommodations to observe their holy days and other times of the year where their religion requires them to abstain from work,” although it offers no evidence that this is a particular problem for those of other faiths.

Some ethnic and religious Jews criticized the CHRC paper online. Anthony Koch, an observant Jew, tweeted, “Enough of this garbage. Thanks. Signed, a non-Christian.” Koch added, “The idea that Christianity is a “white” religion is not only idiotic and racist, it’s also ahistorical.”

Koch is not alone among those who resist the politically correct sanitizing of the calendar by erasing Christmas. In 2022, Leger Marketing found that “among those who grew up non-Christian,” only eight per cent agreed with the statement “I am offended when people greet me with ‘Merry Christmas,’” while 92 per cent disagreed.

The paper urges governments to enact “legislation, policies, and programs … crafted to address the causes and consequences” of religious intolerance,” although it offers no specific policies.

According to a 2022 Statistics Canada report on data collected in 2021, just more than 19.3 million Canadians, or 53.3 percent, identify as Christian. That is down from 77.1 per cent in 2001. About a third of Canadians (12.6 million) report having no religious affiliation, up from 16.5 per cent in 2001. Other religious groups have doubled over the past two decade but still represent small shares of the population: Muslim (4.9 per cent), Hindu (2.3) and Sikh (2.1). While the number of Jews have held steady, their percentage of the population decreased from 1.1 per cent to 0.9.