Re: "Keeping people safe is not religious persecution," letter, Dec. 17)
Bravo to Les Miller for starting a conversation about civil liberties and how that relates to a crisis like COVID-19. I had a couple of issues with what he wrote, however.
My first issue relates to his statement that "everyone is free to have their beliefs in their own hearts and their own homes." If everyone is free to keep their beliefs to themselves, then why write in to publicly share his beliefs? It's interesting that he thinks it is perhaps the "fringe" groups who should keep their thoughts to themselves.
Second, to the comment, "No government in any western democracy...has in the last nine months told any person from any faith group that they're no longer allowed to believe what they believe." I think the disagreements come from the fact that some governments (for example in British Columbia) have shut down places of worship altogether, while allowing similarly-populated indoor venues, like bars and restaurants, to continue operating. Many faith groups assert that worship services are "essential." While their freedom of worship and assembly is codified in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the writer seems to think it a light matter for governments to infringe on this right. In reality, it is only one of the many fundamental rights that we all enjoy every day.
Whether our governments follow their mandate to respect our rights and freedoms is something we all need to monitor constantly and defend where necessary. So please, let's be careful of downplaying some people's concerns over freedoms just because they may not specifically be our own. Oppression of "fringe groups" may just be the very first symptom of a government becoming indifferent to the democratic principles this country was founded on. It is everyone's responsibility to ensure our hard-won freedoms are preserved, and that our great country remains glorious and free.