The Political Career of Pauline Marois
OK, so I’m not above a bit of shadenfreude. But did she ever deserve to lose! Even now, more than five months after her defeat, Montrealers are still giddy. “The air even feels different,” a former student told me when I ran into him at the IGA. What finally did in Marois was her insistence on a bigoted “Charter of Values” that would forbid government employees—and here in Quebec that means all teachers from Kindergarten through University—from wearing head scarves, yarmulkes, turbans and crucifixes. People have the right to know, her party argued, when receiving government services that they will not be discriminated against for religious reasons. In other words, she was trying to protect her largely rural, formerly catholic, and provincial population from ever having to encounter difference at the hospital, the university, the SAAQ or the courthouse. Secularism, as defined by Marois and her ilk, meant a robust freedom from religious difference. We are so lucky to be rid of her party’s particular form of bigotry and secularism…for now. But can we LEs do any better?
Secularism is coming to a small town and rural village near you, and no number of plastic 10 Commandments signs on the front lawn can stop it. The question is not whether secularism is coming—IT IS—but rather, what form will it take? My basic argument to you dear reader is that not only is secularism practically inevitable, but some forms of secularism are almost exactly in line with the larger aims of Liberal Evangelicals. The particular brand of secularism that I have in mind I call “Agnostic Secularism” and we should mobilize in our churches and voting booths to advance this variety of secularism. But perhaps more importantly, we should move beyond seeing secularism as a mere pragmatic necessity. Agnostic secularism is a great moral good, and LEs should be singing its praises far and wide. Allow me to go all Old Testament on you for a moment.