Atheists and the non-religious are reacting with shock and disappointment to reports that the Chaplain General of the Canadian Armed Forces has paused a policy that would require spiritual reflections by chaplains at public addresses be inclusive.
Far-right and Christian sources, including The Epoch Times, Western Standard and The BC Catholic, have reported that Chaplain General Brig.-Gen. Guy Belisle wrote to military chaplains on October 30 to state that the new directive would not apply to Remembrance Day ceremonies. There is no indication on the Chaplain's website that the policy has been reversed.
Ian Bushfield, Executive Director, BC Humanist Association (BCHA):
This pause is a betrayal of the countless non-Christians who have enlisted to serve this country. Canada is a multicultural and secular society, and our military must reflect that. Chaplains can deliver prayers to members of their faith in private; they should not be given a stage to proselytize.
The Chaplain General reportedly intends to strike a committee to further study the directive, despite the reality that the current policy was the result of years of struggle by non-religious service members.
The BCHA has written to municipalities across the province asking them to respect the diversity of Armed Forces servicemembers and the Supreme Court of Canada's jurisprudence that requires religious neutrality.
Already, the City of Victoria has confirmed that their flag-raising event to launch the Legion's Poppy Campaign "is, and will continue to be, secular and inclusive." The City of Coquitlam cited its commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion and promised to discuss any issues arising during the Legion's ceremony during their annual debrief.
The BCHA is encouraging secularists to write to their local Legion to ask that this Saturday's events be inclusive of all who've served.