I was looking around the decorations at Elli's school the other day and saw a copy of a few interesting documents on the walls there. Quotes from those documents:
Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law:
The Parliament of Canada, affirming that the Canadian Nation is founded upon principles that acknowledge the supremacy of God, the dignity and worth of the human person and the position of the family in a society of free men and free institutions;
The first quote is the beginning of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the second is the beginning of the Canadian Bill of Rights, which is the precursor to the charter. The Bill became law in 1960 and the Charter in 1981, but what was remarkable to me was the tremendous difference between what was considered necessary then and what would be possible now. If anyone tried to set out a new standard for Canadian law these days and the preamble implied that Canada was/is a Christian nation and that being a Christian nation was a necessary assumption for agreeing with these laws it would get laughed at. Of course these aren't the stand out exceptions as the documents also reference the Queen of England as our iron fisted ruler; not exactly representative of anything but an amusing anachronism. I do wonder if those lines will ever be struck out of their respective homes. I doubt it will happen because there simply isn't any compelling need to go through the incredible process of changing those documents when the edits in question are changing something that is completely irrelevant anyhow. Much like the Queen being our monarch we really haven't any reason to change what everyone knows isn't true.
I got to thinking about how attitudes towards religion have changed. I remember back in public school when we had to stand up and recite the Lord's Prayer every day. There was one girl in my class who was a Jehovah's Witness who did not stand and recite with the rest of us - presumably at her parent's insistence. At the time it was more than a bit strange because the school absolutely insisted on everyone saying the prayer after singing O Canada. I suspect that it was simply an obedience thing and that they worried that if they made the prayer optional then everyone would ignore it and they feared that the contagion of disrespect would spread outward; better to hold the line. I even had religion taught to me in class though very little time was spent on it. I recall a very old, very nice lady who came by maybe once a month to teach us Bible stories. I don't know what year exactly those things ceased but they are long gone now. What I wonder is what other religious habits that seem rooted firmly now will vanish over the next 20 years? Certainly the practice of saying grace before meals, once ubiquitous, now is reserved far more for dinners with the older folks who expect it as a matter of course. I am clearly an outlier in this case but I really notice those little things like the stark difference between religious Christmas music and pop culture Christmas music this time of year.
The changes that must occur when a nation changes mindset from 'singular religion' (inaccurate and ridiculous as that statement is and was) to 'many religions, including none' are substantial and take a long time to happen. Much of the things that change are not hard to change because of religion itself necessarily but instead hard to change because people are used to them. They support and defend the old ways simply because they are familiar so it takes generations for habits to really shift. I expect that we will slowly lose nearly all the trappings of religion from public life as Canada continues to become more and more multicultural but it is a process that will most likely outlive me and my generation.
That is, unless some scientist gets off their behind and comes up with a formula for immortality. Come on guys, you probably only have another 50 years before it will be too late for me, get cracking.