From the video:
Interviewer: In your view, does establishing an office of religious freedom implicitly place religious freedom above other human rights?Farr: Certainly not, although I think it's important to recognise that not all rights that on can conceive of are equal. For example, I would argue that religious freedom is more fundamental than, say, the right to...a secondary school education...to pick something out of the air, which is created by government. Religious freedom is among those fundamental rights that are sort of attached to human beings by virtue of their existence.
I just can't come close to agreeing that the right, the immutable innate right, to believe in the supernatural, to believe in any sort of bullshit hocus pocus you want, is more important that the right to be educated. Especially when so many of those believers want to keep their followers from getting an education. I suppose they know the same thing Mr. Farr does, that being sufficiently educated generally leads to one losing belief in supernatural nonsense.
It is interesting to note that Farr's support of religious freedom might not extend to all Muslims. He says that in getting the church/state balance right, Egypt must
"...Deal with the Muslim Brotherhood" and if they don't, it will "have implications for the Coptic minority, and other Muslims in Egypt."
So some religions/sects are good, and some are bad. Junior ministers in Ottawa will decide which is which I suppose. I know that's a reach, and he is trying to discuss the persecution of one religious group by another, but it's the Office of Religious Freedom, not the Office of Christians and Western-Friendly Muslims. I guess that is exactly what it is.
Here's my favourite bit:
Farrr: We cannot simply conduct our relationships with other countries on a purely economic basis, especially authoritarian and quasi-totalitarian countries like China.
Farr then goes on to claim that China will not prosper economically unless they allow greater religious freedoms for the Chinese people.
I'll give you a chance to enjoy the sound of your own laughter.
From the National Post:
"When Prime Minister Stephen Harper meets with his Chinese hosts this week, he will be greeted with smiles and the veneer of friendship. There will be polite discussions about trade, investment opportunities and China's eagerness for a larger supply of Canada's oil. It will all be very civilized: No one will talk openly about the obvious moral qualms that many Canadians have about doing business with this amoral regime.Unfortunately, Canada doesn't have much choice. Most Western economies (including our own) are on the edge of recession, and Canada's salesman-in-chief needs to go where the business is - which is why Mr. Harper's in China and not, say, Greece.... the Chinese simply don't care about what the rest of the world thinks about their attitude to human suffering. Just the opposite: Chinese nationalists are obsessed with their country's rising place in the world, and see any Western criticism as a form of unjustified meddling and paternalism."
Farr would counter this with his notion that China's economic growth cannot be sustained, and that when their economy fails, they can be aided by
"...religious actors. One thinks of "The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism"...let them be themselves [the religious people in China], they're not going to be revolutionaries, but what they will do, is be economically productive over a long time."Certainly the people of China could use a good solid dose of Calvinism to help curtail their profligate ways and to dampen their sinful natures. That way lies true (economic) salvation. More current opinion comes from Artemy Malkov, and Daria Khaltourina contend who contend that it wasn't simply Protestantism that gave rise to the European and North American economies, it was, and is, rates of literacy. You know, reading. The kind of thing you learn in school, the one you have no right to attend.
I think I can summarize Mr. Farr's point thusly:
If you want to be success, say your prayers, do your training, and take your vitamins. Swim with a buddy too.