|Scientists are studying public signs of the support now and the search continues for any other mention of this on the ORF|
website and across the Internet. (source)
The Toronto Star has a feature on Andrew Bennett and the newish Office of Religious Freedom.
LINK: Meet Canada’s defender of the faiths
Defender of the faiths? Well, coming from someone who would like to discourage faith - the belief in anything for no good reason - as much as possible, this title is not all that encouraging. But it turns out the Office does work to help religious people around the world. When it comes to helping people, I'm all for this!
That's why this section of the article, a challenge from Canadian Secular Alliance's Justin Trottier, caught my attention. Here he is making the case for my people who are being persecuted around the world for their lack of faith by those who do violence in the name of their faith.
“We’ve been pushing (the Office of Religious Freedom) to defend apostates who have left religion, people who are atheists in countries where they face the death penalty,” says Justin Trottier of the Canadian Secular Alliance. “Other than flowery language about their stand on atheism they haven’t done anything to back up their claims.”
I've brought this up many many times before. While Andrew Bennett has told us Canadians several times that it is also his mission to protect atheists across the world, I have seen zero actual press releases and official condemnation by the Office of the treatment of atheists around the world.
So then the article author throws in this statement by Bennett.
Bennett maintains that freedom from religion is also a human right to be defended, and he has spoken out for an atheist blogger in Kazakhstan.
Holy smokes! Really! This is huge! What did I miss?
Well, that's it. Just that. Not a single peep about this anywhere else on the ORF's website, anywhere. Google: nothing.
I'm guessing he's here talking about Aleksandr Kharlamov, who's incarceration at a mental hospital for merely publicly saying he's an atheist drew the criticism from the ORF's US counterpart, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom in 2013.
As for the ORF? Well, apparently not in public; just behind closed doors.
Oh and, as far as I can tell, Kharlamov is still on trial for being a terrorist.
I find it interesting that this information should come out apparently purely in response to a CSA statement by Justin Trottier and not posted to the ORF's well-maintained media release page.
Or perhaps the ambassador is shy to speak out in public because of strong forces that keep the Conservatives in power?
“You have to see it as the Conservatives looking to build a winning coalition that can deliver a majority,” says Nik Nanos, president of Nanos Research. “I believe the strategy is to rely on the core support of fiscally conservative voters, and graft on top of that special issue and interest groups, which could be faith or culturally based.”
Yes, I can see how support of atheists might upset the base.
Look, I know diplomacy can probably be a very opaque thing. So who knows what the office may be doing in the background for imprisoned atheists? However, it does seem interesting and frustrating to me that the Office has taken public stand after public stand - nearly weekly - against the persecution of the religious leaving atheists like me grabbing at microscopic crumbs of action like these.
I'm glad the Office is formally condemning awful abuses of human rights against religious people; don't get me wrong. But why is it that defending human rights violations against atheists seems to involve discreet whispers off camera and off record? Are we dirty goods?
Scientists have yet to confirm what exactly this last diplomatic move of support for atheists is. I seems small and mysterious; and the search goes on to discover others.