Any headline in the form of a question can be dismissed with the simplest answer (which is also typically no).
Case in point, a Victoria Times-Columnist blog asks “Has religion become a dirty word?“
It argues that Victoria, BC, with a non-religious population of 51% according to Statistics Canada’s 2011 National Household Survey and potentially as high as 64% from the 2013 BCHA poll, has become anti-religious. Such is the secular identity that the religious are made to feel “sheepish” and ashamed of their habit.
Yet without citing any specific evidence of wide-spread anti-religious hate crimes* or even anecdotes of real religious persecution, I have to call bullshit.
Religion has simply lost its place of privilege. One is not assumed to be good just because they are religious. It’s little more than a curious quirk of a shrinking portion of the population.
While some anti-theists cheer for the day when religion is a dirty word, this is the future I more hope for: where religion is a private matter and people don’t feel entitled to force their beliefs onto others.
Victoria isn’t hostile to religion, it has become indifferent to it.
*I did briefly look for whether I could find a break down of the number of religious hate crimes by city to compare whether secular Victoria and Vancouver showed a different rate than other, more religious cities, but the data isn’t nicely collected and the incident rate is fairly low. Only a few hundred hate crimes are reported each year across the entire country and only a fraction of those target religion (most are racial). It would be hard therefore, to detect a meaningful trend. Nevertheless, we should be glad those numbers are small. I may still look into this question for a future post.