religious free government buildings
Public services that are intended for the whole community, especially those funded by public money, should be provided in a secular context.
Challenging Alberta's Religious Privilege
RELIGIOUS FREE GOVERNMENT BUILDINGS
To facilitate an all-inclusive city by ensuring, all city/government facilities remain religious, hate and discriminative free.
HOW DO THE GROUPS WORK
Each group has a group lead/leads that organize the "when and where" each group meets up. Each group must do a minimum of one physical meet per month. In these meetings, strategies and action plans are formed together as they decide on the best way to proceed with their campaign. For example, contacting educators, city council members, other similar group leaders, etc. Local surveys can be conducted, mini speaking events with community leaders that are already involved in the topic can be put together. These are just a few ideas that would go a long way in forming a strong basis for this topic. Each member will contribute by doing research and gathering information or making the right contacts.
It is very helpful that all members have access to Facebook Messenger so that a private group discussion forum can be created with members of the group only. This will be a space where all the members can update each other on the progress of their tast.
CITY/GOVERNMENT BUILDINGS SHOULD BE RELIGIOUS FREE ZONES
Over the past number of years, City Hall has been issuing permits for a known Christian hate group called: Street Church, allowing them to use City Hall as a space to hold their church events. Artur Pawlowski is a Polish-Canadian political, anti-LGBTQ, anti-choice activist and senior pastor of Street Church. He has spent much time in court due to charges laid against him by the Calgary Police Department in relation to trespassing, and breaking city bylaws. Street Church members were also involved in a violent clash at Calgary City Hall back in 2017. Pawlowski’s Street Church is involved with far-right anti-immigrant groups such as the Canadian Combat Coalition, the Worldwide Coalition Against Islam, Northern Guard, and the Soldiers of Odin, which have a great deal over overlap in their membership.
Last October 2019, numerous groups which included Atheist Republic Calgary, and Queers on Campus organized a protested against an event organized by Pawloski inside City Hall called: Possessing the Land. Petitions and letters were sent to Mayor Naheed Nenshi and city councilors, which went unanswered.
We ask the city to take a stand in respect of diversity and inclusion and against those who vilify the most marginalized among us.” Queers on Campus.
As a secular humanist organization, we strongly believe that all government buildings should be free of religion, in order to be fair, equal and show respect to everyone.
We will continue to challenge and pressure the city and rally support around this issue. Religious events of any kind should not be held at City Hall, especially when the organization or leader espouses anti-LGBTQ2S views.
Jay Cameron, with the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, says the space inside City Hall is open to anyone.
“City Hall belongs to everybody. It doesn’t just belong to people who believe the same way as Art Pawlowski does.”
Cameron notes while Pawlowski’s freedom of expression and opinion are protected under the constitution, the government does have a duty to stay neutral.
“I did take a look at the event advertisement on Facebook, and I saw statements there like, ‘This is Our City Hall, let’s take it.’ If the event is taking place inside of City Hall then I can understand why certain members of the community would be concerned.”
According to the City of Calgary, permits for religious events in the atrium can be granted after-hours, and because the sermon will be held after 6 p.m. on a Saturday, it is considered after hours.
We Believe Change is Still Possible!
But how do you legally shut down hateful speech on a patch of public land that is meant to be safe and accessible for all — but also the symbolic centre of democratic protest in Calgary?
Even if banning informal protests is not possible under the law, we argue that the city can at least withhold permits for events in parks from groups known to espouse hateful messages.
We want City Councillors to pass a motion to explore 'ways and means to mitigate the use of city parks and public places' by hate groups." Together we will pressure the City to not rent or lease any city facilities to hate groups as well as to conduct a broad community consultation on how best to deal with the unwelcome appearance of hate groups in our community.
If you're passionate about making our City space a welcome place for those who make Calgary their home, for those who come here to seek refuge and for those who make the journey to visit us, then join our campaign. We need you! You can help make a difference.