Article by Dr. Iain Provan
It seems that many Canadian Christians hold the opinion that “Christians should stay out of politics.” If they mean by this that the Christian Church should not aspire to be the federal government (for example), then I agree. If they mean that a Christian’s primary loyalty should be to Christ and not to any political movement or party, I also agree. The Christian’s first duty is to be a Christian, and not something else. The Church’s first responsibility is to be the Church, and not something else.
But what if politics will not stay out of the Church? Or to put this in another way: what if the federal government (or any level of government) announces its intention of passing legislation that amounts to the imposition on Christians (and others) of a particular set of beliefs and values that Christians (and others) must necessarily reject? What if politics itself has, essentially, become a particular kind of intolerant religion, intent on repressing its competitors?
Our present federal government happens to be Liberal – but that is irrelevant to the point I am developing here. Let us consider it simply as “the government.” What does this government have in mind, legislatively, for the current session of Parliament? I want to focus here on only two important matters.
First of all, we should anticipate in this Parliament the pursuit of the 2021 Liberal Party platform item that promised to “no longer provide charity status to anti-abortion organizations (for example, Crisis Pregnancy Centres) that provide dishonest counseling to women about their rights and about the options available to them at all stages of the pregnancy.” Crisis Pregnancy Centres are only one example here; it seems likely that in fact any charitable organization that holds pro-life views could also be at risk of losing its charitable status and the associated tax exemption (groups of worshippers, Christian hospitals, homeless shelters, faith-based schools, and so on). And of course, without charitable status many of these charities would have to close. We have seen something like this before, in the 2017 government requirement that organizations must sign a “values test” in order to receive federal funding to hire summer students. But all of this represents an entirely unacceptable intrusion by the government into the religious and moral lives of Canadian citizens – an attempt to impose particular beliefs and values on groups of such citizens who by no means accept them as true or good.
Secondly, we shall certainly see in this Parliament the resurrection of the failed Bill C-6 from the previous session – a bill banning “conversion therapy.” This bill, in its previous version, was constantly and loudly represented by government and media as criminalizing coercive and systematic efforts to change a person’s sexual identity. As a matter of fact, however, a simple reading of the bill quickly revealed that it was not fundamentally about criminalizing coercive and abusive practices. Its definition of “conversion therapy” in fact studiously avoided the language of coercion, force, and abuse. Bill C-6 was, instead, mainly about making it as difficult as possible for Canadians to exercise certain kinds of choices (of which the government disapproves) about how to handle their sex and identity. Specifically, it was a Bill that threatened the freedom of parents and other responsible adults to look after minors of all ages in the way that they believe to be right, and to access professional and pastoral help congruent with their beliefs and values in doing so. We are now promised in the new session of Parliament a tougher version of this earlier bill that will leave less room for what activists call “loopholes” – including “faith loopholes.”
Christians should stay out of politics, some say. But what if politics has become intolerant religion, intent on repressing its competitors – intent on intruding right into your home and church and interfering with the way you raise your children, counsel your flock, and fund your charitable organizations? You cannot stay “out of” something when you’re already immersed IN it – and it is intent on drowning you and those around you. Love of neighbour, if nothing else (such as a healthy desire for freedom of religion and conscience) forbids such a course of action.
Those who have ears to hear such words need to commit themselves to education about the realities that we now face, and then to Christian action. A good place to start with respect to identity issues would be to visit the Free to Care website (https://www.freetocare.ca/) and to consider supporting financially this fine but massively underfunded organization. A good place to start with respect to charitable status would be the online petition that can be found via this link.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily held by everyone at Christ City Church.