Getting the Facts Straight about Religion

The CBC’s Neil Macdonald embarrassed himself this past week by letting loose on all things religious under the guise of a warning about new Conservative leader Andrew Scheer. “Andrew Scheer says he won’t impose his religious beliefs on Canadians. We’ll see,” says his headline.

In the meanwhile, however, we can worry about the likes of Neil Macdonald imposing his views on us instead.

Mr. Macdonald starts badly by claiming that he is rigorously committed to facts while “religion, though, is something else. It is by definition not fact-based. It is a pure belief system.”

As a scholar of religious studies, I am unaware of any reputable textbook or dictionary that would define religion in this peculiar way.

Many religions rely fundamentally on facts. Judaism depends upon the fact of Yahweh rescuing Israel from slavery  in Egypt via the Exodus. Christianity depends upon the fact of God raising Jesus from the grave. Islam depends upon Allah bestowing the Qur’an upon Muhammad.

The most popular story in the most popular book of the most popular stream in Hinduism has Krishna instructing Prince Arjuna before a particular battle depicted in the Bhagavad-Gita. And Buddhism depends on Siddhartha Gotama achieving enlightenment under the bodhi tree two-and-a-half millennia ago.

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