The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation had a radio commentary yesterday which made some rather alarming suggestions. You can get the transcript here.
Here are some excerpts from the introduction:
Men and women within the Roman Catholic faith are still hoping that the church can change to more accurately reflect the World in which we live. This week-end, for example, an international conference will be held in Ottawa to support women's equality in religions. WOW, or Women's Ordination Worldwide, is fighting for the ordination of women in all Christian Churches. It says it wants to open a global debate on the issue. ... Bob Ferguson is a retired professor from the Royal Military College. He believes that Catholics are unlikely ever to see changes in policy on birth control or on the question of married or female priests. In fact, he says change won't come until the churches are forced to comply with the same human rights legislation that affects the rest of society.
The rest of the commentary is from Ferguson, who goes on to argue that churches should be forced to comply. Here are some further excerpts:
Couldn't we insist that human rights, employment and consumer legislation apply to them [the Roman Catholic Church] as it does other organizations? Then it would be illegal to require a particular marital status as a condition of employment or to exclude women from the priesthood.
Of course the Vatican wouldn't like the changes, but they would come to accept them in time as a fact of life in Canada. Indeed I suspect many clergy would welcome the external pressure.
We could also help the general cause of religious freedom by introducing a code of moral practice for religions. They will never achieve unity so why not try for compatibility? Can't religious leaders agree to adjust doctrine so all religions can operate within the code?
I won't try to propose what might be in the new code except for a few obvious things: A key item would have to be a ban on claims of exclusivity. It should be unethical for any RRP [Registered Religious Practitioner, which he's suggestiong] to claim that theirs was the one true religion and believers in anything else or nothing were doomed to fire and brimstone.
I hope this is some kind of a joke. I suppose it's also possibly designed to make conservatives/religious folks respond with outrage, then poke fun at how alarmist they are. But the program is listed right on CBC radio's main page, here (until it scrolls off), so it's hard to imagine how it could be a joke.
If it's not a joke, it's extremely concerning. I mean, to force religious people to be subject to anti-discrimination laws, to require them not to say that other religions are wrong, etc.? It seems like this would quickly put churches in the absurd position of being legally required to hire ministers who do not believe their religion, etc.
UPDATE: Related thoughts, and more commentary, here.
UPDATE 2: Jollyblogger has more on the subject (and more links).