The evening featured a panel discussion on “Freedom of Expression and Respect for Religious Sanctities.” Four panelists represented Baha’i, Christian, Muslim and Stoney Nakoda First Nation views.
Over 120 people were at the Ranchehouse on Thursday to attend Cochrane’s seventh World Religions Conference, which looked at Freedom of Expression from the perspective of Native Spirituality, Christianity, Ahmadiyya Islam and Bahai, an offshoot of Islam founded in Iran before become a religion in its own right.
“The excess of liberty is a problem, said Joan Young, Bahai’s representative, who believes freedom of expression is not disciplined in today’s world, adding that free speech must but moderated with dignity and respect for the betterment of society.
Young referenced the protests that followed the murders of 10 Charilie Hebdo employees and two police officers by self-proclaimed jihadists, saying she was shocked to see people coming out in support of the freedom to insult, which takes freedom of expression to a point where it no longer serves to improve the community as it is malicious rather than creative.
“I find that troubling because they don’t equate at all,” said Young when comparing the freedom to express oneself to the willingness to insult another. “Is what we are saying contributing to spirit of unity and goodwill or insulting and belittling?”
Kevin Peacock, professor of the Old Testament, took a different approach and focused on freedom of expression as it pertains to what is believed to be the truth.
Nothing that America’s Bill of Rights and Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms both protect the freedom of religion, thought, association and press, Peacock talked about the history of Christian persecution for expressing their beliefs, primarily in terms of his own Baptist faith and how King James would punish and oppress them for believing differently.