RE: Bill C-51 a bill to remove archaic sections from the Criminal Code of Canada
Bill C-51 is now before you. This bill will remove archaic sections from the Criminal Code of Canada (CCoC). In addition to being archaic, Section 296 is also inappropriate for a multi-cultural, diverse culture such as Canada’s
Section 296 is the Anti-blasphemy Libel section of the CCoC. A serious part of the problem with Section 296 is that it does not define blasphemy although it states that violations are a fact of law. Thus, it allows religions to impose their dogma on people who are not a part of their religion and are, therefore, not obligated to follow their dogma.
For example, a Muslim, under 296, can ask the justice system to charge a non-Muslim with blasphemy because that person has drawn an image and labelled it Mohamed because, under Muslim tenets, drawing images of Mohamed is forbidden.
Indeed, some religions claim that to deny the existence of supreme or supernatural beings is blasphemy itself. This makes us atheists a constant target for such claims and Section 296 supports that claim. Such actions deny atheists the right to freedom from religion as noted by the Supreme Court of Canada (Big M Drugs v. The Crown, 1984).
Other countries that were a part of the British Empire use the same section in their anti-blasphemy legislation with the addenda that atheists commit blasphemy simply be being non-believers. These countries, Pakistan and Bangladesh in particular, actively persecute atheists or stand by while vigilante groups justify their violent actions against atheists using the same clauses as are in 296.
The time has come to eliminate this archaic and anti-multicultural section from the Criminal Code of Canada. Please vote to pass C-51 to accomplish this.
Doug Thomas, President
Secular Connexion Séculière (SCS)