|Michael De Dora (source)|
Towards the end of the interview, Becky brought up the minor yet significant progress CFI Canada has made getting our Office of Religious Freedom to acknowledge the plight of atheists in countries where merely outing yourself can result in jail time or death.
I had to transcribe this the best I could. So please , if you can, listen to the original (at 33:33) and let me know if I made any substantial errors.
I coordinate with the people up in Canada. And actually it's very important that we coordinate on issues like that. When Canada announced it was launching this Office of International Religious Freedom and the director would be Andrew Bennett, one of the first things we did is we coordinated and CFI Canada sent up a letter to Andrew Bennett and said, "Hey, you're the new director and we're the largest Secular Humanist and skeptic group in Canada. We think that we should have a meeting with you to talk about some of our concerns." And he granted that meeting and they had a meeting with him.
Now the great thing about that was that this was not just a one-off experience. What ended up happening is several months later, the NGO committee on Freedom of Religion or Belief, which I mentioned before -- it's an NGO committee CFI belongs to -- I'm the secretary of the committee and Matt Cherry is the president he's the IHEU representative. We then invited Andrew Bennett down to come to New York to have a meeting with our committee. And we ended up setting something up at the Canadian Mission across the street from the UN.
And I met Andrew Bennett at the event and I said, "I'm Michael De Dora from the Center for Inquiry," and he said "Oh yeah, the Centre for Inquiry, I met those people up in Canada. I love you guys. It was a great meeting. We should definitely keep in touch and I'd like to work you going forward."
And so, what we've actually been able to do now is because of our presence at the UN, even though he's the Canadian ambassador, we do have that international focus and so we've been able to coordinate with his office on some international religious freedom issues and we're hoping to do that even more going forward. The thing is, it's a little more difficult because they're not at the State Department, they're not just down the street. But because we have that international focus, it enables us to do that kind of work.It's nice to know dialogue is continuing, because I haven't heard of any news in the media of the Office returning any calls from secularists since the last time CFI Canada met with them. These meetings with CFI in New York also seem to have generated no media releases on the Office of Religious Freedoms website either.
After listening to the interview I did some digging on the CFI website and came up with this update from June 17th:
- On June 17, OPP Director Michael De Dora attended a meeting with Dr. Andrew P.W. Bennett, the Ambassador for Canada’s new Office of Religious Freedom. During this meeting, Dr. Bennett made it clear that this office is dedicated to defending and protecting the rights to freedom of belief and expression for all persons who face persecution, including the nonreligious.Better get defending then, Mr. Bennett.
No really, I see no movement by the Office whatsoever to speak out in favour of those without religion being persecuted in the name of religion. Don't get me wrong. I'm happy to see something's happening, but talk is cheap these days, isn't it? When are we going to see some action?