A Miscellany 164
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Many, many, years ago, I was a student at the Royal Military College of Canada.
At that time we had compulsory Church Parade on Sundays with drill on the parade square followed by mandatory church attendance.
I recently found the first article with a religious perspective I ever had published thanks to the placing of our college newspaper from that period on-line. This particular item resulted in me being called on the carpet before the Commandant with threats of expulsion.
On Compulsory Church
Morality is moral only when it is voluntary" - Lincoln Steffans
We all know that section of history which is concerned with the persecution of the early Christians in Rome. They were given the choice of paying lip service to the official state religion of Rome or death. As a result of this persecution, for such is the way of man, Christianity went underground, flourished and emerged as the major religion of the Western World.
Unfortunately the Christian Church did not learn much from this experience. Throughout the ages, it, in its turn, has sought the destruction of those who disagreed with it. In the middle ages heretics were tortured and killed while their combined forces brought about the Protestant Reformation. The new Protestants having learned nothing, persecuted their own heretics, just as ruthlessly as the rest had, and splintered their churches even further. For centuries, the Jew has been persecuted around the world, yet, because of this persecution, Judaism is one of the most alive and dynamic of religions today.
The lesson is clear. The most effective way to make an idea, an ideology, a religion grow and flourish is to make an attempt to stamp it out. If a person is, say, an atheist, force him to attend church, punish him if he refuses to attend, and he will remain an atheist until he dies.
Is this not what happens here at RMC? Only those who have Church leave to attend a civilian church in Kingston, or those who happen to be Jewish, are allowed to miss church at the college. All others, whether they be Christian, atheists, agnostics, or those who just don't give a damn are required to attend either the Protestant or the Catholic service at the College. If they do not go, and are caught missing the service, they are charged and receive from four to fourteen days CCD, depending upon the whim of their squadron commander.
As a result, religion at RMC is a farce. The service is spoiled for those who are Christian by idle talk and sarcastic comments on the service from people who would rather be elsewhere. This forced religion tends to turn borderline cases against it. It is an outrage against the moral sense of the atheist and agnostic for them to have to pay lip service to religion. And for those who just don't give a damn about religion, they care even less after an RMC service. In short, Christianity, RMC style, benefits no-one.
Let us end this farce, where it is a standing joke to pass the collection plate along an entire pew without adding anything to it, where a church service has no religious feeling in it at all, and where religion is openly laughed at in Church. Let us put an end to this hypocrisy. Let us have freedom of religion.
Nothing can do this but voluntary church attendance.
- Clifford John Tyrrell
I don't think I've mellowed much in my old age. I still stand by what I wrote back in 1965.