Religious Entitlement For The Rest Of Us
I originally wrote the following article—rated the greatest article of all time by an independent body that I just formed—for the July 2010 edition of Outlooks magazine. Despite being published under the Slap banner, I never actually posted it on this site. Practically unforgivable, I know. But it’s here now! So, enjoy!
I’m thinking of starting a religion. The climate seems right for it. Catholics are shaken by their church’s sexual abuse coverups, Anglicans are on the verge of an unreconcilable split, and Scientologists have been facing a credibility crisis ever since the release of the secret Xenu sex tapes.
Now, I don’t expect the First United Church of Slap will be very popular on the outset, but I’m optimistic that people will overcome their initial hesitations. For one, Slapelicans won’t be required to accept quite as much dogma as other religious followers. As a non-prophet organisation, FUCS won’t promote any particular mythology about the origins of the universe and meaning of our existence. The big selling point of FUCS, rather, is its central, culturally-relevant tenet of personal entitlement.
The entitlement tenent generously extends existing religious rights to cover pretty much anything. This not only gives each Slapelican an automatic importance over all non-members (and even members that you don’t agree with), but you get to practise it in the form of everyday discrimination without the threat of legal consequences. Just imagine it: Are you a vegetarian working at a government registrar’s office? With the FUCS entitlement tenet, simply refuse to issue hunting licenses. Come from a background where women just don’t traditionally handle finances? Deny them a bank account. Do the reserved clothing styles of Conservative Party members offend your sense of style? Kick them off your bus. Don’t worry about any feelings of guilt or personal responsibility; another bus will probably come along soon, and I’m sure other people will probably be willing to fill in the services for you. Of course, the best part about all of this is that the legal paperwork is already being taken care of by existing religions.
Don’t be skeptical; Even though Canada has, since the 1960s, garnered a reputation of tolerance and equality even beyond those of many other leading constitutional countries, work on the legality of the entitlement tenet is noticeably progressing.
Just last month, the Human Rights Commission heard arguments from a Christian couple in Grand Forks, British Columbia who claimed they have the right to turn away gay customers from their business. As Christians, they argued, it violated their personal religious freedoms to accommodate gay guests at their bed and breakfast. A decision in this case is still pending, but—for the sake of all Slapelicans and the entitlement tenet—the tribunal will hopefully accept the famous biblical precedent about turning people away from inns and rule in favour. If not, persistence will pay off eventually; an identical case from Stratford, PEI in 2001 had ruled in favour of a gay couple who were denied lodging at the Beach View Bed and Breakfast, but that hasn’t stopped this case from being heard nine years later.
Bed and breakfasts aren’t the only battle front, either. This summer, the province of Saskatchewan drafted and submitted a bill that will make it legal for civil marriage commissioners in the province to refuse to perform marriage services for gay couples. The bill was proposed after a Christian civil marriage commissioner was fined for refusing to perform his duties for a gay couple; the government, overcome with sympathy for the poor marriage commissioner who can no longer able to discriminate as he sees fit, even presented the bill to the Supreme Court to obtain advice on how to implement it without facing pesky legal challenges from Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. If it passes, civil marriage commissioners—and perhaps all other regular citizens providing non-religious services—will be able to pick and choose for whom who they can offer their public services based solely on their privately held prejudices.
So, things are looking up for FUCS and Slapelicans. Once these cases make the entitlement tenet a legal possibility, the church will be ready to operate, tax-free. And with other religions footing the bill for the legal groundwork, FUCS will be ready to pass the savings directly to you in the form of reduced initial membership fees.
Unless you’re grey-eyed, Harper-faced, or from Moose Jaw, of course. I don’t think I’d care to serve your types.