When the state takes an interest in regulating religious expression, it invites religious institutions to reply by using their force of numbers to remake government policy. More seriously still, excluding people of faith from the mass of society is the surest way to isolate and drive them into the arms of radicalism.
A faculty member at an elite educational institution in Pakistan mentioned in his recent Express Tribune blog piece that more than 80 per cent of his students replied in the negative on the question of Mother Teresa's entering Heaven. The overwhelming majority of students reasoned that despite saving thousands of lives, she was not a Muslim. The essence of all these discussions was that notwithstanding good deeds, it was the correct belief that decided salvation. I think being a good human being trumps religious beliefs and rituals any day.
One would hope that the days of politically motivated religious discrimination are far behind us. Yet the disdain and intolerance demonstrated so avidly by Pauline Marois threatens to bring us back to darker, more foreboding times. Along with the other vestiges of bigotry appearing today, can it be that the accepting, multicultural national we have worked toward in the last number of decades has been for naught?