Christy Clark's Religion Comments Spark Criticism From B.C. Atheists

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B.C. Premier Christy Clark is facing criticism from the B.C. Humanist Association, a prominent atheist group, over comments about being guided by the bible she made on an evangelical Christian talk show. Clark is seen here in India at the Golden Temple in Amritsar, a sacred site for Sikhs. (Handout)
B.C. Premier Christy Clark is facing criticism from the B.C. Humanist Association, a prominent atheist group, over comments about being guided by the bible she made on an evangelical Christian talk show. Clark is seen here in India at the Golden Temple in Amritsar, a sacred site for Sikhs. (Handout)

A prominent atheist group is attacking B.C. Premier Christy Clark for making comments about her religion and being guided by the Bible on an evangelical Christian talk show.

The B.C. Humanist Association released a statement Wednesday saying Clark's answers have made them concerned that the "separation of church and state may be eroded in Canada’s least religious province." Just under 55 per cent of British Columbians identified themselves as part of some sect of Christianity in the 2001 census.

"Policies should be formed in the best interests of all the people of the province and based on the best available evidence,” said Ian Bushfield, the group's executive director. “The Bible is of great literary value, but lacks the critical analysis necessary to deal with today’s exceptional challenges."

Last week, Clark appeared on the religious program "100 Huntley Street" and suggested the Bible helps her make tough decisions.

"Many times, as with many decisions that we face, and we learn this in the Bible, it’s much easier to make a short-term decision that will make everybody happy or that will make your life a little bit easier, than it is to make a long-term decision that’s good for the future but may be tough in the short run," Clark said.

Clark also said the family is the "most important structure in society" and stressed the importance of raising children with "character and morals."

B.C.'s premier has been described as a "devout Anglican".

The B.C. Humanist Association has "represented atheists, agnostics and secular humanists" since 1984, according to the the group's website.

In July, Bushfield told The Province his group believes the Bible is a work of fiction and that "there's just no evidence of God." The group, however, does resemble a church in that it holds meetings on Sunday and welcomes donations from members.

But it's what the premier does on Sunday that has stirred up the debate and some are wondering whether Clark's religion influenced her decision to come out against the Northern Gateway Pipeline.

In The Vancouver Sun, spirituality writer Douglas Todd asks whether six B.C. and Yukon Anglican bishops coming out against the pipeline in April played a role in Clark's decision.

This seems highly unlikely (and to be fair Todd argues there is no reason Clark's private religious beliefs should influence her policies).

Rather than being a sign of theocratic tendencies, Clark's appearance is likely just her latest attempt to win voters on the right away from B.C.'s Conservative Party.

If Clark can't appeal to some of the 18 per cent of citizens currently planning to vote Conservative in the upcoming provincial election, there's little doubt the storyline will be her defeat at the hands of the NDP, not her religion.

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