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Religion in the Canadian Forces & in Canadian Society

lenaitch

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Interesting discussion.  I can add little more since I am not nor have ever been in the military tent.  It is often difficult to isolate culture from religion in some ceremonies or observances, and I agree that it can be a little awkward or uncomfortable if one is not familiar with the drill.  I have attended a couple of Hindu weddings and Catholic services and just try to do what everybody else is doing.

Probably because I don't really think about it much, I'm never quite clear on the concept of 'freedom of religion' vs. 'freedom from religion', and have no clue where Canadian jurisprudence falls on it.  The issue seems much more alive in the US.  It may be that I'm simply tolerant, or just don't care that much one way or the other.  I was raised in the United Church (long since fallen) which has to be one of the blandest, believe-pretty-much-anything-you want' churches.

As Canadian society evolves, it seems like a good thing public body practices evolve along with them, and it sounds like the military is evolving, even though it sounds like the message hasn't reached into all corners yet..  In bygone days in my memory, in the Ontario public service, being a Mason was a good career thing and being Catholic was not and it is a good thing that has long since been eradicated.  I suppose the challenge is to not throw out all history and tradition with the bath water.  No doubt there is some SJW waiting to demand that all crosses be removed from Commonwealth War Cemeteries. Tradition can often be the sea anchor that keeps an organization from flopping around in the present, but it shouldn't be a boat anchor that drags it down either (poetic huh?).  Being from Ontario, I've had fairly minimal involvement with the RCMP, but the one thing I have always admired them for is the place that their history and traditions play. 
 

quadrapiper

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FJAG said:
Who get's the final say as to whether or not you have to be an unwilling bystander to something you disagree with?
Of the various ceremonies and events mentioned here, the only one I can think of where "smile and nod" would be the best plan for the day would be a funeral, in relation to whatever faith, if any, the deceased/their family wanted involved. I'm on the fence as far as existing venues for laying up colours, except to say the moment that venue breaths a word out of line with CAF policy re: social concepts, inclusion, etc. the relationship ends and the regimental items leave. Certainly, if a new "community" venue is sought, it should be secular, extremely long term, of some dignity, and hopefully busy.

Everything else can and should be secularized.
 

CBH99

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lenaitch said:
I have attended a couple of Hindu weddings and Catholic services and just try to do what everybody else is doing.


I realize what I'm about to ask isn't contributing to the overall discussion, so I apologize beforehand.

May I ask, how was your experience at the Hindu weddings??  Objectively??


The only reason I ask is last summer, I went to two Hindu weddings (The only 2 I've ever been invited to) -- and I had an ABSOLUTE BLAST!  The dresses the women were wearing were absolutely amazing, jaw dropping.  And I don't mean that in any sort of sexual or suggestive way - the dresses worn, even by ladies in their 70's, were absolutely gorgeous.

I don't dance.  At all.  I am NOT a dancer.  I dance about as well as a white kid from the suburbs is supposed to dance.  My dance skills are 0.  Solid 0.

But the guys at the wedding (for those who haven't been to a Hindu wedding, it's quite common for a group of guys to get together and do their traditional dances) forced me to get on my feet and taught me some of their basic moves.


All in all, the most fun I've ever had at any weddings  :nod:
 

lenaitch

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CBH99 said:
I realize what I'm about to ask isn't contributing to the overall discussion, so I apologize beforehand.

May I ask, how was your experience at the Hindu weddings??  Objectively??


The only reason I ask is last summer, I went to two Hindu weddings (The only 2 I've ever been invited to) -- and I had an ABSOLUTE BLAST!  The dresses the women were wearing were absolutely amazing, jaw dropping.  And I don't mean that in any sort of sexual or suggestive way - the dresses worn, even by ladies in their 70's, were absolutely gorgeous.

I don't dance.  At all.  I am NOT a dancer.  I dance about as well as a white kid from the suburbs is supposed to dance.  My dance skills are 0.  Solid 0.

But the guys at the wedding (for those who haven't been to a Hindu wedding, it's quite common for a group of guys to get together and do their traditional dances) forced me to get on my feet and taught me some of their basic moves.


All in all, the most fun I've ever had at any weddings  :nod:

Same here.  Both sons of a high school friend married Hindu girls from university and one opted for a more traditional wedding (the other was, for want of a better term, 'barely Hindu').  It was at a G&CC and my buddy is quite the carpenter and built the covered wedding alter  ('mandap').  You are so right about the dresses.  Much colour, layers, jewelry, make-up, henna, etc.  Preparation must have taken forever.
Both the groom's mom and aunt (both 'western') got into it as well.  Of course we didn't understand what was happening but there seemed to be a lot of different things going on at different times and locations, then seemingly nothing, then something else, and so on.  It did seem to take forever.  Very different than a typical western wedding which are more 'linear' (I am told Sikh weddings are also more linear and shorter, like ours).

I don't remember much about the reception other than it was more typical western.  I don't recall any spontaneous dancing, but have been told that the 'folk' dances are regional - perhaps her family is from a more urban area, I don't know.  We aren't party people and it was a fair drive for us so we did our usual and bugged out shortly after the meal.  Wedding receptions are for young people, and we ain't (never sure I ever was).
 

tonykeene

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The basic problem is that religion, specifically Christianity, has been hard-wired into the Forces for centuries. However, it has not been so for any other government agency. As a result deferring to Christianity has been conflated with loyalty and willngness to serve, fitness as a soldier etc.
As an example, the official history of the Canadian Grenadier Guards features pages dedicated to the Regimental Grace, Regimental Church and so on. Thumbing through this book gives the decided impression that this is a Christian regiment, which of course it is not. Any other government agency would not be allowed to do this. Your local Service Canada office would not be allowed to form an official alliance with the local Anglican Church. But your local reserve unit does do it with impunity.
I understand the appeal of tradition. My family is steeped in it. I realize how hard it must be for many to accept this. But as the CF does not have religious criteria for membership, then it cannot have such for participation. If the Forces will accept you as an atheist, then you should not, in your career, have to stand under command and hear about any religion.
It's that simple.
However, this also means that Forces members must be free to express and obseve their own faith traditions. But this must be done without any command involvement other than the provision of support. Members of the unit should not be encouraged or forced to attend under threat, implied or overt. But too often this is the case, when the pace sticks go into action.
The Forces are a coercive environment. This is as it must be. But we must be careful not to use it to enforce things which in reality have no relation to operational effectiveness.
 

tonykeene

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This entire thread is actually moot and irrelelvent. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in the "Saguenay" case that all levels of government (and government agencies) must be neutral towards religion. This means no church parades, no religious blessing of Colours, no blessings of buildings, no prayer on parade, no religious grace at mess dinners etc. It's all over. The chaplain general on Remembrance Day 2019 complied with this ruling in his remarks when he made no religious references whatsoever. The discussion is over. The Forces have no role whatsoever is requiring CF members to take part in or acknowledge religions. This means regimental prayers, graces, official church affiliations etc are all gone. Game over, end of story. Get used to it.
 

tonykeene

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Tony is merely doing a victory lap for Atheism…
Well no, not really. All I'm saying is that no matter what your opinion, the issue has been decided. It is the law. Most regiments in the Army have official alliances with Christian churches, many have officioal prayers, Graces, blessing etc. These have been created over generations of service, but nevertheless they are now gone. Just as an event could not include statements about the superiority of the white race, or the male sex, they may not now include acknowledgements of the primacy of a religion, or of faith over lack of faith etc. Throughout my more than 40 years of reserve service, my lack of religion was a constant source of ridicule, contempt, insult and threat. ("Oh, this is Major Tony Keene, our resident heathen." YUK!) The medals on my chest are as good as anyones, yet I have had to take off my hat, bow my head and keep my mouth shut as official state priests told me about the primacy of Jesus Christ.
After four tours of operational duty, I had to sit and listen as a senior officer, wearing the CD and Canada 125 ribbon, told me I'd change my mind "as soon as the bullets start flying."
Enough is enough. If Service Canada can't conduct religious services for its employees and the public, so the Forces cannot. It's that simple. It's the law.
 

cavalryman

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Yep. Like SKT said, a victory lap for atheism. But no matter how you look at it, atheism is a faith all of its own, and good old Tony is presenting himself as a martyr. Nicely done.
 

brihard

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Yeah, dude, nobody had touched this thread since your last post in January. “Moot” appears to have already been the case. It was a necrothread til you opened it up again.

I didn’t do as much time in as you - 14 years PRes, just the one tour, but not once did I ever have anything happen that caused me to believe that anyone in CAF gave a shit about my lack of religious belief. I was never disadvantaged by it, never made to observe anything I didn’t want to. I never got butthurt if grace was said at a dinner, and nobody cared that I just sat there not mouthing anything. Most troops weren’t. I definitey didn’t begrudge the presence of the Chaplain at any of our numerous ramp ceremonies in Kandahar when we sent dudes home from tour early. I’m going to respectfully suggest that you’re staying pretty hung up on something that hasn’t really mattered in a long time now. You retired in 2006. You’re beating a horse that was dead and buried many years ago now. Let it go. Or at least stop pretending you still have a finger on this particular pulse.
 

Kilted

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Traditions die hard. I'm sure I'm not the only person who knows that there is a difference between what regulations say and what actually happens. In reality what I expect many of these traditions to be passed on to the various Regimental Associations which are mostly made up of former members. It may not be the whole regiment taking part in a church parade, but the Regimental Association could host it and if troops show up its of their own free will. Retired Regimental colours could be entrusted to Regimental Associations, who could then deposit them in churches.
 

Remius

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Well no, not really. All I'm saying is that no matter what your opinion, the issue has been decided. It is the law. Most regiments in the Army have official alliances with Christian churches, many have officioal prayers, Graces, blessing etc. These have been created over generations of service, but nevertheless they are now gone. Just as an event could not include statements about the superiority of the white race, or the male sex, they may not now include acknowledgements of the primacy of a religion, or of faith over lack of faith etc. Throughout my more than 40 years of reserve service, my lack of religion was a constant source of ridicule, contempt, insult and threat. ("Oh, this is Major Tony Keene, our resident heathen." YUK!) The medals on my chest are as good as anyones, yet I have had to take off my hat, bow my head and keep my mouth shut as official state priests told me about the primacy of Jesus Christ.
After four tours of operational duty, I had to sit and listen as a senior officer, wearing the CD and Canada 125 ribbon, told me I'd change my mind "as soon as the bullets start flying."
Enough is enough. If Service Canada can't conduct religious services for its employees and the public, so the Forces cannot. It's that simple. It's the law.
Should we stop all military provided funerals and services? Divest ourselves of our military cemetery?

When you die are you okay being disposed of as bio waste?

Should we as an organisation divest ourselves of being able to minister to our members spiritual well being regardless of their faith or lack thereof?

Service Canada doesn’t send its employees to die or into lethal situations. (Mind you Monday mornings in those client service offices might qualify).

Given that we may have to order our people to kill and or die or do harm to others, all things that could indeed go against their beliefs, is that not something that should be managed?

Not saying you are wrong. I don’t think anyone should be forced or ordered into any religious ceremony or spell casting session.

But it opens up a Pandora’s box.

But your beef seems to be aimed at Christian observances in the CAF.
 

Bruce Monkhouse

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Any atheist who thinks it's some kind of major butthurt to sit through some religious stuff is an idiot/thudfuck/moron/take your pick/etc.......I'm an atheist and I attended lots of ceremonies during the 80's.....and yet here I am, mentally unscathed all these years later.
 

Jarnhamar

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After four tours of operational duty, I had to sit and listen as a senior officer, wearing the CD and Canada 125 ribbon, told me I'd change my mind "as soon as the bullets start flying."
You should have challenged him to a honour duel.

Enough is enough. If Service Canada can't conduct religious services for its employees and the public, so the Forces cannot. It's that simple. It's the law.

I'm not sure what spirits are bringing this up with you now but the CAF actually doesn't push religion and church services on members like it used to. It's been a long time since I've personally seen it. The CAF appears to have removed a lot of the influence and power (for good or for ill) from padres when it comes to compassionate postings, getting out of exercises and such.
 

tonykeene

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Traditions die hard. I'm sure I'm not the only person who knows that there is a difference between what regulations say and what actually happens. In reality what I expect many of these traditions to be passed on to the various Regimental Associations which are mostly made up of former members. It may not be the whole regiment taking part in a church parade, but the Regimental Association could host it and if troops show up its of their own free will. Retired Regimental colours could be entrusted to Regimental Associations, who could then deposit them in churches.
Yes, that would probably be a possible change, and it would probably work. Also I think as society changes, gradually so will these traditions. I'd like to live to 150 in order to see it!!
 

tonykeene

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Should we stop all military provided funerals and services? Divest ourselves of our military cemetery?

When you die are you okay being disposed of as bio waste?

Should we as an organisation divest ourselves of being able to minister to our members spiritual well being regardless of their faith or lack thereof?

Service Canada doesn’t send its employees to die or into lethal situations. (Mind you Monday mornings in those client service offices might qualify).

Given that we may have to order our people to kill and or die or do harm to others, all things that could indeed go against their beliefs, is that not something that should be managed?

Not saying you are wrong. I don’t think anyone should be forced or ordered into any religious ceremony or spell casting session.

But it opens up a Pandora’s box.

But your beef seems to be aimed at Christian observances in the CAF.
Funerals are personal , like weddings. We observe a person's passing in terms of his or her own faith. This has nothing to do with ministry; we need chaplains to do that. What I object to is the use of religion to add pomp and circumstance to an event that really has no religious significance. And it's not about Christianity; it only seems that way because, essentially, it is Christian prayer, or the semblance of it, that is used. I've never seen a parade ordered to its knees for Muslim prayer. I'm sure if it were, I certainly would no longer be the only one objecting.
 

Bruce Monkhouse

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Well I'd be more then happy to honor my Muslim brothers/sisters in arms by kneeling in prayer with them.

Respect for others is a wonderful thing...
 
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