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lactualite

Il est faux de penser que la religion rend la mort plus acceptable. À preuve, les rites funéraires sont marqués par des moments d’intense tristesse. Et la plupart des croyants ont peur de la mort et font leur possible pour retarder sa venue! Demandez-lui si elle avait peur avant de venir au monde. Elle risque de répondre en riant : «Bien sûr que non, je n’étais pas là!» Expliquez-lui que c’est la même chose pour la personne qui décède. Elle n’est simplement plus là. Il existe plusieurs façons d’apprivoiser la mort. C’en est une.

Accepter sa propre finalité est le défi d’une vie, et ça restera toujours une peur qu’on maîtrise sans jamais la faire disparaître totalement.

M. Dale McGowan, auteur de Parenting Beyond Belief

No no, come back! I haven’t really become sophisticated — except in the pages of the Montréal-based public affairs magazine L’actualité, which carries an interview avec moi as its November cover story.

I was interviewed last month by Louise Gendron, a senior reporter for what is the largest French-language magazine in Canada with over one million readers. A website Q&A (in French) supplements the print interview.

So why the sudden interest among the Québécois about parents non-croyants? It’s a fascinating story. Québec has historically been the most religious of the Canadian provinces. Over 83 percent of the population is Catholic — hardly surprising, since the French permitted only Catholics to settle what was New France back in the day.

But now Québec is considered the least religious province by a considerable margin — and without losing a single Catholic.

Non-religious Catholics, you say? Oui! French Canadians are eager to maintain their unique identity in the midst of the English Protestant neighborhood — and “French” goes with “Catholic” in Canada even more than it does with “fries” in the U.S. Yet educated Catholics — I’ve discussed this elsewhere — are the most likely of all religious identities to leave religious faith entirely. There is, by all accounts, a very short step from educated Catholic to religious nonbeliever.

In recent years, a very large percentage of Catholic Québécois have essentially become “cultural Catholics” — continuing to embrace the identity and traditions of the Church despite having utterly lost their belief. The most striking evidence is a referendum, five years ago, to transition the provincial school system from Catholic to secular. The referendum passed easily, and a five-year transition began in 2003. This year is the last year of that transition — and to the shock and surprise of many, the entire process has taken place with very little uproar.

Until now.


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“In recent years, a very large percentage of Catholic Québécois
have essentially become “cultural Catholics” — continuing
to embrace the identity and traditions of the Church
despite having utterly lost their belief. “

____________________________

My interview was going to be a good-sized piece, but two weeks ago (in the words of Louise Gendron), “all hell broke loose” in Québec as orthodox Catholic family organizations launched a coordinated media campaign attacking the secularization of the schools. At which point L’actualité decided to make the interview the cover story and enlarge the website Q&A.

Most “cultural Catholic” parents in Québec support the transition but wonder how to explain death, teach morality, encourage wonder — in short, how to raise ethical, caring kids — without religion.

Perhaps you can understand my sudden, intense interest in Québec, and why there is talk — very early talk — of a possible French edition of Parenting Beyond Belief, to be published in (vous avez deviné correctement!) Québec!

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Dale McGowan is the author of Parenting Beyond Belief, Raising Freethinkers, and Atheism for Dummies. He holds a BA in evolutionary anthropology and a PhD in music.