When I read the latest version of Bill C-4, I was not only surprised that the Bill passed unanimously in the House, but also that the Bill was explicitly religious. Bill C-4 aims to ban the practice of conversion therapy. You might then expect that a Bill like this would address issues of religious liberty. What you might not expect is how the Bill is framed in religious terms.
Parliament Gets Religion?
In the Preamble of the Bill, we are introduced to its religious perspective:
Whereas conversion therapy causes harm to society because, among other things, it is based on and propagates myths and stereotypes about sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, including the myth that heterosexuality, cisgender gender identity, and gender expression that conforms to the sex assigned to a person at birth are to be preferred over other sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions;
In this long paragraph, the Bill states that there is a foundational “myth” that your biological sex is to be preferred to all other orientations, identities and expressions.
The term “myth” is a striking one. Normally a legal document would not be interested in making metaphysical claims. Lawyers don’t usually offer commentary about Norse gods, fairies, or woodland spirits in their legal briefs.
Who would have thought that modern Parliamentarians would suddenly get religion?
Anathemas of a Competing Faith
By making mythology the basis of a moral objection in Bill C-4, Canada’s federal politicians have stated what many people have thought was left unstated for so long: secularism is a religion. The modern state is a secular one, but that has not meant merely a ‘naked public square’. Instead, secularism has taken on religious features, even the pronouncement of beliefs that are forbidden. Heresy is no longer a metaphor for wrong-think, it is literally wrong-faith.
By making mythology the basis of a moral objection in Bill C-4, Canada’s federal politicians have stated what many people have thought was left unstated for so long: secularism is a religion
The secular religion makes a faith claim when Bill C-4 contends that biological sex has no preferential place in a person’s life, even though material evidence makes a counter-claim. So even though archaeologists can still distinguish the remains of men or women simply by their skeletal structure, they are forbidden to say more. To actually assume that men and women in death were men and women in life is to be a mythmaker. At least that is what Bill C-4 claims.
The secular religion stated in Bill C-4 is intolerant. The Bill makes a moral judgment against anything that denies its own faith. In its preamble, Bill C-4 appears to exclude natural reason since biological sex is prohibited from having any developmental claim on a person’s life. The biologists—even Darwin himself—are anathema!
Belief in the essential nature of biological sex for a person’s sexual identity falls under this new Inquisition. The Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity are all condemned as heresy according to Bill C-4’s claim. How bold is the new religion to anathematize all others!
Merciless in the name of mercy
With sad irony, this new secular religion calls for mercy to the marginalized while being merciless to anyone who would help. Those with gender dysphoria are not even permitted to be helped by the heretics. A cold calculus marks Bill C-4. It threatens damnation to anyone who believes differently while offering chilling comfort to the confused.
Of course, coercive medical procedures ought to be condemned. So-called “therapies”—that are really forced (medical) procedures—are not in the same category as persuasion. No one should be forced to receive a (medical) procedure. Yet the Bill presupposes that genuine helpers of other faiths are immoral and guilty of heresy for persuading people about the goodness of their biological sex.
With no resistance in the House of Commons, Bill C-4 will not face many challenges until it is put into law and a long constitutional challenge is raised. For all of its pretensions to legal talk, debating the Bill in a temple or shrine would be more honest.
The legal interpretations of the Bill may lessen the force of some of its extreme statements. But in its current form, Bill C-4 sounds like a religious anathema on both scientific realism and freedom of speech in Canada.