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Canadians are stirred up over the recent private member’s motion (M-103) that was tabled back in December 2016. You can read the motion here: Systemic racism and religious discrimination. As of this posting, the House of Commons has begun their debate (February 15, 2017).
Despite the numerous concerns being voiced, it’s expected that government will pass the motion. This really shouldn’t be difficult to understand since we are still living in the aftermath of events like January’s attack at a Quebec Mosque.
What’s of more concern, however, is the riled “Christian” response. Many are upset that Government is protecting another religion over their own. Many believe this is step one, to losing their freedom of speech. Others still believe that this is the back door to a “hidden agenda”.
Whatever the debate at hand, this is a poorly written motion that will pass and Christians will have to come to understand how to navigate the Christian faith in a shifting Canadian landscape.
Christendom is over…
Canada is not a Christian country. It hasn’t been one for quite some time. We are a nation that encourages and celebrates diversity. That doesn’t mean Christianity doesn’t belong in Canada, it just simply means policy is not influenced by Christianity.
Pluralism is in…
Some argue we are in a post-Christendom era, however, with motions like this one on the table, I would argue that we are even further from that. Perhaps it’s more accurate to say Canada is in a “Plural-dom” era – where policy affects religion, and yet religion doesn’t affect policy.
A Poorly Written Motion
If, in fact, we are living in a pluralistic culture, ALL religions should be protected within the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. That doesn’t mean everyone will agree, rather, everyone has the right to believe what they believe. Any further motion and potential bill, should aid in protecting against ALL religious hate crimes and should speak to ALL religions, and not just one. Currently, Islam is the only religion specifically mentioned.
The implications of naming only one religion only further damages the very idea government is trying to encourage. If all faiths are equally protected, then all faiths should be mentioned or no faiths at all (keep it general). With only one faith mentioned in this motion, it will unequivocally end in further hate towards the faiths not mentioned and protect Islam before the rest. Blacks and Jews, for example, both experience the highest rates of hate crimes in Canada.
Further, the lack of clarity in the motion doesn’t help. Will you be able to challenge or debate anything? The very act of healthy criticism and discussion is what helps us to shape and understand the belief systems we all believe in. Healthy criticism and debate is far from hate, but a lack of clarity leads people to uncertainty.
If the actual intent is to protect all faiths, then M-103 is a poorly written motion.
With that said, I pray that any resulting bill that may, or may not, be placed before the House will be written with clarity and with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in mind.
So how should a Christian respond?
I understand these are uncertain days and that people can feel threatened. In a pluralistic society, however, we have to be very careful in how we respond. If we want to make a positive impact for Jesus, here are some guidelines:
1. Celebrate in the fact that our government would like to stop hate crimes.
This should be a win for any believer. Hate is not a good thing and Jesus calls us to love one another – even our enemies (Matthew 5:44). What’s even more exciting, is that the Canadian government wants to take action without instilling fear.
2. Pray for our leaders.
Our leaders will make decisions you may or may not agree with, but the tensions they are trying to navigate are vast. They need our prayerful support, not our unleashed anger (1 Timothy 2).
3. Ensure to give others the rights they deserve.
In Canada, everyone has the right to choose a religion and state their opinion and beliefs. We should remember that this is a biblical concept – it’s called freewill (2 Peter 3:9).
4. Voice concerns in a respectful way.
Be intelligent, act responsibility, and be above reproach. Everyone has the right to speak, but speaking out of anger or fear is not having “the same mindset as Christ” (Philippians 2).
While the problems with M-103 have the potential to be great, we need to learn to respond with the same Christian values we long to protect.
Christendom is over and pluralism is our new reality. The best voice Christians can have is one of respect and concern for those with different beliefs. God loves everyone and wishes all of them to be saved (2 Peter 3:9), but that message is lost when we selfishly try to restore Christendom in a nation that has already moved on.
What are your thoughts on this private members’ motion (M-103)? How can Christians responsibly navigate the days ahead?
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