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November 24, 2012

Question:  Should non-citizens who promote religious intolerance be allowed to enter Canada?

I will assume that “religious intolerance” is a euphemism for religious fanaticism. Every government on earth should have the intention and policy of protecting the well-being, peace and security of its citizens. Now it should be obvious that religious fanaticism is a direct threat to the peace and security of any nation. Religious fanatics openly promote, plan and participate in both verbal and physical attacks on their own or other religions.

Bahá’u’lláh (1817-1892), the Prophet-Founder of the Bahá’í Faith, recognized the terrible dangers that result from religious fanaticism: “Religious fanaticism and hatred are a world-devouring fire, whose violence none can quench. The Hand of Divine power can, alone, deliver mankind from this desolating affliction” (Bahá’u’lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 13)

The remedy for religious poison is love and solidarity among all religionists, regardless of their religious persuasion.  Bahá’u’lláh’s remedy was to regard the entire human family as children of the same loving God, and all the great religious systems as deriving from the same divine Source. The differences among them, he taught, should be seen as being rooted in the varying requirements of the ages in which they appeared. To express the principle of human unity,  he used the ancient image of the tree :

“The utterance of God is a lamp, whose light is these words: Ye are the fruits of one tree, and the leaves of one branch. Deal ye one with another with the utmost love and harmony, with friendliness and fellowship. He Who is the Daystar of Truth beareth Me witness! So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth” (Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 13).

If the Canadian government becomes aware that an individual who has openly engaged in hate speech toward another religion, or who is known to have planned or participated in attacks on the grounds of religious hatred, by all means should be prevented from entering Canada. To allow such an individual to enter Canada would be to run the serious risk of compromising the peace and security of the nation. Religious hatred is a contagious, noxious virus. One of the best remedies for contagion is quarantine.  
-  Jack McLean

Printed in the The Ottawa Citizen November 24, 2012
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