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January/February 2012

Discover more articles from this issue.

Say Nothing

The result of your fifty or sixty years of religious reading in the four words "Be just and good" is that in which all our inquiries must end. . . . My...

Faith in Works

Faith in Works

Religion and the Schools

In its 1952 Zorach v. Clauson ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court said it is constitutionally permissible for public school children to participate in...

The Third Party Interest

With the rhetoric and rancor rising in the campaign for the White House, the election has increasingly become a call to the faithful, with candidates...

Freedom With a Catch

It has long been a societal proposition that public education is designed to provide peoples of all socioeconomic, racial, and religious backgrounds with...

Reflections on the First Freedom

You don't have to believe in American "exceptionalism" to recognize that in the way it handles church-state matters the United States of America has made a...

Liberty for All

The United States, a demographically Christian nation, grants non-Christians the right to worship as they please. Religious conservatives, who often assert...

Promises Kept

Early in 2011 Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that a reelected Conservative government would create an Office of Religious Freedom to ensure that...

A Duty to Defend

A key priority for our government [is] establishing an Office of Religious Freedom. We announced our intention to do so in the Speech from the Throne on...

Magazine Archive »

Published in the January/February 2012 Magazine

Early in 2011 Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that a reelected Conservative government would create an Office of Religious Freedom to ensure that defending persecuted religious minorities is a priority of Canada's foreign policy.

Speaking to a packed room and an enthusiastic and diverse crowd, Prime Minister Harper praised the courage of those Canadians who have fled religious persecution and come to Canada—many of them having experienced violence and torture just for professing their faith openly. Harper said that Canadians are fortunate to live in a society in which freedom of conscience does not carry the threat of persecution or violence. But he added that "while we are thankful to live in a country that spares us such tests, we must not let our comfort be an excuse to shirk our commitment to the cause of freedom. That is why I am pleased to announce that a reelected Conservative government will create a special Office of Religious Freedom."

Harper explained that the new Office of Religious Freedom, located within the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, will monitor religious freedom around the world, promote religious freedom as a key objective of Canadian foreign policy, and advance policies and programs that support religious freedom around the world.

Calling him a champion of freedom and an inspirational figure, the prime minister told the crowd that Pakistan's slain minister of minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti, had "asked us in Canada to shine a light on the persecution of religious minorities in Pakistan and around the world."

The prime minister said that the new Office of Religious Freedom will do just that: "It will call attention to the religiously persecuted and condemn their persecutors. It will signal to religious minorities everywhere that they have a friend in Canada."

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