Opinion: 5 Christian Crosses On Public Property That Quebec Should Remove If It's Serious About The "Religious Symbol Ban"

Since its election to a majority government, the CAQ, led by François Legault has vowed to invoke the Notwithstanding Clause, if necessary, to enforce a ban on "religious symbols" for public servants.

Legault cites Quebec's claim to strict secularism and the potential influence of such symbols on individuals, like children in public school, for example, who are receiving a public service. 

Such a ban would most greatly affect Jewish and Muslim residents of Quebec, for whom religious garments can be fundamental demonstrations of faith.

But the Christian symbols that already decorate public buildings across the province would be suspiciously exempt from the proposed ban, calling into question the motives that propel it.

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TL;DR Below are listed 5 examples of Christian crosses on public property. These would appear to conflict with the CAQ's proposed ban on religious garments for public servants.

Below are compiled just five examples of crosses on public property that would seem to contradict the proposed ban.

The CAQ is reportedly already drafting the ban. These crosses will likely not be affected.

Via Google Maps

Public Schools

Dozens of public schools in Montreal were constructed during a time in Quebec when education and Catholicism were linked. As a result, Christian religious symbology is built into their façades.

The École Jeanne-LeBer, École des métiers de l’informatique, du commerce et de l’administration (ÉMICA), and École Paul-Bruchesi (pictured above), for example, all feature crosses by their entrances.

The aim of religious symbol ban for public servants is, among other things, to eliminate even the semblance of religious influence disseminating from a public platform, particularly as it could affect the relationship between teachers and students.

The crosses that decorate public schools undercut that goal. Yet few public officials have called for the removal of these religious symbols.

Via Photo 83161933 © Michel Bussieres - Dreamstime.com

Mount Royal

The illuminated cross atop Montreal's Mount Royal marks the spot where early French settlers constructed a wooden cross to celebrate the arrival of Catholicism.

Some argue that the cross is a historical monument rather than an active religious symbol, but, in fact, its presence is inextricable from that of its predecessor, which was a visual representation of conversion and domination.

The current cross extols the virtures of Catholicism with electric zeal from its perch within a public park. Its existence, therefore, undermines the proposed religious symbol ban.

Via Assemblée nationale du Québec

The National Assembly

Quebec premier François Legault claims that the crucifix that hangs in the National Assembly chamber in Quebec City is not religious but "historical."

But a crucifix is a crucifix is a crucifix. Denying its religious import while potentially passing a law banning religious garments for public servants in the very room where it hangs is blatantly hypocritical.

Some Quebec politicians have already called for its removal if the proposed religious symbol ban becomes law.

Via Ville de Montréal

The Flag of Montreal

According to the city of Montreal website, the red cross that divides the flag into four quadrants "is emblematic of the Christian motives and principles which governed the founders of the city."

The provincial flag of Quebec also features a white cross at its centre, but, according to the Government of Canada website, that cross instead "recalls an ancient French military banner." It therefore does not contradict the government's claim to strict secularism.

Via Google Maps

Other Public Services

The above photo shows the façade of the Centre Récréatif, Culturel et Sportif (CRCS) St-Zotique in Saint-Henri. According to its website, the centre is a "partner" of the city of Montreal. The two entities signed the first version of their current agreement in 1993, but cooperation between the city and parish dates back to 1982.

The city of Montreal logo hangs alongside the giant metal cross next to the center's entrance.

St-Zotique offers important services to the borough and improves residents' quality of life. Religious institutions are important pillars in the Montreal community. The collaboration between city and parish, perhaps, does not in itself conflict with the religious symbol ban.

But the outward display that directly links Christianity with the municipal government, a secular entity, certainly does.

There are undoubtedly dozens of such partnerships, and instances of competing signage across Quebec (though a quick search through public sites yielded no information on just how many there are).

Indeed, this list just offers a sample of the prevalence of Christian crosses on public property. Christian religious symbology is ingrained in the landscape of public infrastructure in Quebec.

This coexistence has persisted for decades but is neither the subject of scrutiny nor the target of the CAQ's religious symbol ban.

Quebec should closely examine whom the ban will affect and why.

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