Author Archives: Stephen Petrina

Proposal to ban “overt and conspicuous religious symbols” just surface of controversy in Quebec

With a firestorm of controversy and amidst of criticism from the likes of intellectuals and teachers, the governing Parti Québécois (PQ) released its Charter of Quebec Values today. Among a wide scope of efforts to secularize the province, the PQ proposes to ban “overt and conspicuous religious symbols.” The English release of the Charter states:

Setting Clear Rules for Everyone
Since 2006, a number of high-profile religious accommodation cases have given rise to a profound discomfort in Quebec. To maintain social peace and promote harmony, we must prevent tensions from growing.

Clear rules on religious accommodations will contribute to integration and social cohesion. They will benefit all Quebecers, including newcomers. We will be best served by a state that treats everyone the same.

Affirming Quebec Values
Contributions by Quebecers of all origins have enabled us to build an open society that shares fundamental values. These values defining Québec society and constituting a form of social contract are, among others, equality between women and men, religious neutrality of Québec’s public institutions, and recognition of a common historic heritage.

By affirming these values, we are proposing to build a strong Québec identity, whether one was born here or elsewhere.

Establishing the Religious Neutrality of the State
The state has an obligation to be neutral, which is an essential condition to ensure freedom of conscience and religion.

The best way to respect everyone’s beliefs is for the state to remain neutral and have no religion. This principle promotes pluralism by ensuring fair and equal treatment of all beliefs.

Five Proposals

Amend the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms
We propose to entrench the religious neutrality of the state and the secular nature of public institutions in the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.

The Charter would also include a framework of rules to oversee ac-commodation requests. It would outline the conditions under which an accommodation could be granted. From now on, it would have to respect equality between women and men.

These modifications would result in the affirmation of Québec society’s values.

Establish a Duty of neutrality and Reserve for all State Personnel
We propose to establish by law a duty of religious neutrality and reserve for all state personnel in carrying out their duties.

This duty would reflect the state’s neutrality and its independence from religion. Civil servants are already subject to such a duty with respect to their political opinions. Persons working for the state should abstain from promoting their religious beliefs while performing their duties.

Limit the Wearing of Conspicuous Religious Symbols
We propose to prohibit the wearing of overt and conspicuous religious symbols by state personnel in carrying out their duties. This restriction would reflect the state’s neutrality. The employees in question would be :

  • personnel in ministries and organizations ;
  • state personnel with power to impose sanctions (judges named by Québec, prosecutors, police officers, and correctional agents) ;
  • daycare (CPE) and private subsidized daycare personnel ;
  • school board personnel, including those in public elementary and high schools ;
  • cégep and university personnel ;
  • public health network and social services personnel ;
  • municipal personnel.

Read More: PQ Charter of Quebec Values

Graduate Seminar: Bruno Latour and STS

Please consider enrolling (or advising enrollment) this Winter 1 term (Sept-Dec 2013) in a graduate Seminar on Bruno Latour and STS (at the University of British Columbia).  The course is listed as a Masters Seminar but I encourage all PhD students with STS interests to enroll for intellectual reasons, for taking leadership roles within the seminar, and for learning to teach and design courses on Latour and STS.

Note that the course is Pass-Fail format.  This year the seminar focuses on Latour and the postsecular turn in STS:

EDCP 501 : Thursdays (1:00-4:00)

Course Description:

This seminar focuses on recent work of Bruno Latour, arguably the most creative and challenging scholar of Science & Technology Studies (STS).  Latour’s reputation and scholarship traverses an extremely wide range of disciplines in addition to STS (e.g., anthropology, art, education, environmental studies, geography, history, law, philosophy, political science, sociology, theology, etc.).  Following a survey of Latour’s work and the postsecular turn in STS, we will focus on three new texts: An Inquiry into Modes of Existence (2013), Rejoicing: Or the Torments of Religious Speech (2013), and On the Modern Cult of the Factish Gods (2010). The seminar is interdisciplinary and inviting, and students from any and all disciplines are encouraged to enroll.  We will work systematically through these texts to closely examine Latour’s strategies for doing STS.

Media Religion Culture 2012 Conference

The deadline is rapidly approaching for the Media Religion and Culture 2012 Conference, held in Istanbul 8-12 July 2012.  Browse the MRC OCS to upload proposals.

The International Conference on Media, Religion, and Culture is organized every two years by the International Society for Media, Religion, and Culture. The first public International Conference was held in Boulder, Colorado in 1996, and subsequent conferences have taken place in Edinburgh, Scotland; Louisville, KY; Sao Paulo, Brazil; Sigtuna, Sweden; and Toronto, CAN.  The Center for Media, Religion, and Culture at the University of Colorado serves as the Society’s global secretariat.

Journal of Religion, Media & Digital Culture

The Journal of Religion, Media & Digital Culture is inviting manuscripts and promises to be an extremely productive addition to studies of TechnoTheology.  The JRMDC complements the Journal of Technology, Theology, and Religion and signals the recent popularity of research into TechnoTheology.