[contributed by Henry Beissel]
Dear Alex Cullen:
It is appalling to find oneself living in a city which is ruled by double-standards and by the hypocritical repression of the rights of citizens to freely express their views on religion in a civilized manner in public. That is to say, the citizens who embrace a sanctioned religious view may express themselves freely anywhere, whereas non-believers are censored and reviled.
It is high time for this city to move into the 21st century and learn that 1 in every 4 Canadians no longer believes in the existence of any god, and that they must be accorded the same rights as those wedded to their various dogmas.
In this context, I want to congratulate you on your own stand regarding the atheist ad to be posted on Ottawa buses. I found your arguments entirely rational, forthright and intelligent. I support your decision to take the matter to City Council, and I hope that you can help move Ottawa from being a stuffy, backward place with the mentality of a medieval village to becoming a place where a culture of liberal arts, tolerance and intelligent debate prevails.
Dear Rainer Bloess:
I am hoping that the information is incorrect according to which you are alleged to have voted this afternoon against permitting the freethinker ad: “God probably doesn’t exist, so stop worrying and enjoy life.” from being carried on Ottawa buses. I would find it difficult to reconcile such narrow-minded bigotry with the ethical standards to which public officials must be held.
It is not the function of elected officials to use their office to promote their private pet notions about the nature of the world. You are entitled to your views only to the extent that others are entitled to theirs. Our Charter of Rights and Freedoms denies all Canadians the right to discriminate against others on the basis of race and religion, and it would trouble me greatly to think that as an elected member of the Ottawa City Council you would choose to violate the Charter.
If you did indeed vote against the application by freethinkers and atheists, I hope you will reconsider your prejudices and bring your actions into line with your moral responsibilities to the citizens of Ottawa. This means that you not deny one group of petitioners the freedom to express themselves that you allow to others. Instead, it is your duty to make sure that the city operates as a community in which all citizens can live with dignity as free and equal partners
Inasmuch as you represent me in this riding along with thousands of others I would thank you to act in the spirit of enlightened and civilized citizenship, and not to turn Ottawa into a backwater of censorship and intolerance.
[contributed by Sheila Ayala]
Thank you for your response.
I would understand your view that the atheist ad contravenes OC Transpo’s guidelines if it wasn’t for the fact that OC Transpo has allowed religious ads to be displayed, despite the guidelines. I have come across several instances but for brevity, I will just point out one:
The Anglican Church recently sponsored an ad displayed on OC Transpo buses with the caption: “You say his name often on the highway. Why not try saying it in church?”
The Anglicans are inviting people to explore their point of view and as atheists, we have nothing against that. The atheist ads say: “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” This ad is inviting those who so wish, to explore atheism via our websites. Neither ad disparages but both do promote a specific ideology. Nor do both ads give information about a specific meeting, location and time of an event.
Please explain to me how one ad can be accepted and the other ad be rejected.
I look forward to your response.