The governments of Newfoundland, St. John’s and Mount Pearl have recently decided to display an Anglican religious flag on public property. This emblem commemorates Christian “martyrs” and excludes non-Christian victims of persecution. I am ardently opposed to all religious violence, but I can’t support a public display that endorses one set of religious beliefs as preferable to all others.
The involvement of the Anglican Church makes this particularly galling. This is an organization that is directly responsible for the murder of hundreds, if not thousands, of “heretics”. When has the Anglican Church ever flown a flag to commemorate their own bloody history?
Considering the Anglican Church’s history of endorsing religious violence and its ongoing role in the suppression of gay rights, I believe it’s wrong for our secular governments to align themselves with this organization. Until these churches acknowledge their own role in propagating religious violence, their efforts to commemorate a specific class of “martyr” can only be seen as disingenuous and self-serving. Commemorating Christian victims while ignoring non-Christian victims (particularly victims of Christianity) will only amplify divisions and separate the world into “us” and “them”.
Had I been alive during the height of the Anglican Church’s power, it’s likely that I would have been brutally murdered for disagreeing with their claims. To this day, the Anglican Church has not repudiated the parts of their religious text which explicitly call for the murder of non-believers like me, and they have not issued an apology to many of their victims.
If our society is going to commemorate victims of religious violence, let us commemorate all of them — even those the Anglicans would prefer we forget.
Marc-Andre Brien / Pleasantville