Maclean's asks: is religion poison?

    A new movement blames God for every social problem from Darfur to child
    abuse.  Also in this week's Maclean's: Is Dion the little leader that

    TORONTO, April 6 /CNW/ - His worship is poison, if his enemies are to be
believed. After 9/11 so brutally demonstrated that religious fanaticism is
still a force to be reckoned with, a new atheistic movement has been gaining
momentum - at least as far as book sales go.
    Indeed, in ways large and small, from the Biblical accounts of slaughter
in the Holy Land through Christianity and Islam's recurrent fratricidal wars,
to the genocide in heavily Catholic Rwanda (for which numerous clergy have
been charged with war crimes), the religious record is blood-soaked. And a new
faction of writers and scholars want to engage the public on this very fact.
Indeed, for religion, the 20th century was not much better than the dim past.
    "Across the country," reports Maclean's senior writer Brian Bethune,
"there have been fights over practices associated with the stricter forms of
various religions - wearing facial veils (Islam), carrying even symbolic
weapons (Sikhism), gender segregation (Judaism) and the less-than-scientific
biology taught in some religious schools (Christianity)."
    And the debate between the devout and the displeased seems to be
intensifying. Today, in a more secular Canada, the now-settled issue of gay
marriage rights was fought over scriptural grounds; so is the residual matter
of whether marriage commissioners can opt out of officiating gay weddings. As
with pursuing conscientious objector status in wartime, only a religious
justification will receive even a hearing. And yet, reports Bethune, a tiny
Quebec town's adoption of secular "standards" for its (non-existent)
immigrants is now internationally infamous. This week's Maclean's asks "Is God

    Dion: The little leader that couldn't?
    Stéphane Dion has no shortage of problems to ponder during Parliament's
Easter break, reports Maclean's. It's old news that he squandered the bounce
in the polls his Liberals enjoyed after electing him leader late last year,
allowing the Tories to whack him down with negative ads early in 2007. Less
widely understood is how his party is scrambling to match the Conservatives'
organizational sophistication. Stéphane Dion had better hope Harper delays the
vote. He's got a lot of work to do. In this week's Maclean's.

    About Maclean's:
    Maclean's is Canada's only national weekly current affairs magazine.
Maclean's enlightens, engages and entertains 2.9 million readers with strong
investigative reporting and exclusive stories from leading journalists in the
fields of international affairs, social issues, national politics, business
and culture. Visit

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For further information: Jacqueline Segal, (416) 764-4125,

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