A militant secularist group wants the municipality of Verdun to remove the crucifix from its council chambers. The mayor has flatly refused. His argument seems to be that the crucifix is intimately bound up with the Catholic founders of the island of Montreal. Furthermore, if secularists successfully remove the crucifix in Verdun, will the crucifix at the City of Montreal be next and after that will they want the Cross dismantled and removed from high atop Mount Royal?

But is it possible the secularists have point when they argue displaying the crucifix in the public square violates the doctrine of separation of church and state? A crucifix in this case is a double symbol. It points toward history and it points toward religion. There is no doubt the crucifix in Montreal commemorates the history of the city’s founding by Catholic explorers from France. It also points to the Catholic religion.

But we now live in a pluralistic society. Suppose in this day and age a militant group of Jews wanted the menora displayed in Montreal’s council chambers.

Would we be better off if Montreal were to stay religiously neutral by banning all crucifixes. Or would that be a distortion of the city’s Catholic heritage?

What do you think?



  1. 1
    B Says:

    I think it is a great idea to ban all Catholic items. The threat of civil war creates more affordable housing. I have been pondering how I might be able to start one here in Boston as things are way too pricey. Besides, Quebec has forgotten that the real root of its opression was always an anti-catholic monarchy. You guys need to remember that. Long live the Republic of Canada. God save everyone! Peace, B

  2. 2
    SUZANNE Says:

    Is anyone forced to believe Catholicism because of the crucifix? Is anyone forced to practice Catholicism becaus of the crucific? Is anyone harmed by the crucifix?


    Why remove it?

    The notion of the separation of Church and State does not mean that the Church and the State never deal with one another. It is an American concept that was supposed to prohibit any established religion. It wasn’t meant to completely do away with religion in the public sphere. It was meant to stop compulsory belief and worship.

    Now it’s used to establish compulsory secularism.

  3. 3
    Cate McB Says:

    I don’t think there’s a need to take down crucifixes.
    Instead there’s a need to place with the crucifixes the symbols of all the world religions.
    In Montreal, there are particularly good examples of multi-faith spaces where all symbols are creatively integrated: e.g., the chapel at McGill’s Religious Studies building, and the chapel at St. Mary’s Hospital. Yes, everybody knows that Catholicism was part of the origins of Montreal and the province of Quebec. So teach people the history with the appropriate symbols. But I think there’s also a great need to understand the current multi-faith nature of Quebec and the symbols that go with it — not just in chapels but in all public spaces. Is anyone harmed by the crucifix? Not in and of itself, but harm is created when the direct or implied message is that the crucifix is the only important symbol, and when it used as an imposition of power.

  4. 4

    B – It’s interesting you should mention « an anti-Catholic monarchy. » Here in Montreal we have a young Catholic woman who is engaged to be married to be married to one of Prince Anne’s sons, I think his name is Peter who is tenth in line to the throne. When they marry he will have to give up any right to the throne or else she will have to give up her religion. Can’t have anyone in the direct line to the throne marrying a Catholic. Isn’t that the pits?

    Suzanne – You are quite right. Crucifixes in a municipal building doesn’t have anything to do with the separation of church and state.

    Cate – I hear what you’re saying but as a practical matter, I wonder if putting up the symbols of many faiths in the public square would cause admiration or confusion.

  5. 5
    Cate McB Says:


    We can’t have more confusion than we have at present, so my view is — why not use symbols as a tool for public education and inclusion rather than going in the opposite direction towards increased intolerance and possible violence.

  6. 6
    -B Says:

    Yep, No religion in the public square, unless you are the head of state. And then you can appoint the head of the anglican church and you aren’t allowed to be catholic.

  7. 7
    jeremy Says:

    In Montreal, reasonable accommodation is on the table in religious circles. It is no wonder that some groups are trying to « Cleanse » Montreal of certain items, peoples, and traditions just because they do not fit the mold of some.

    If it is not one thing it is another in this city. We cannot strip the Catholic nature and tradition of this city because religious tradition is the base cult of belief. If someone is so threatened by the visage of religious items, then I have to ask, what is the problem they have with themselves?

    It is a forgone conclusion that when people have issues with someone or something, it is a direct reflection of what they feel inside themselves. In Verdun no less… They are so backwards to begin with – having lived there I know.

    I think this is pointless argument. But you know there are always some religious fanatic at either end of the spectrum. I have a BA in Religious Studies and I am acutely aware of the religious bias and hatred in this city. It’s really sad…

    I would hate to see some group lobby to take the cross off the mountain, There would be a war for souls there!!!


  8. 8

    Jeremy – I think you are right on the money to say that if someone is so threatened by religious symbols they should ask themselves why the are so bothered.

  9. 9

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