Religion and Politics

The following letter to the Editor of the West Niagara News was published May 6, 2011 and is in response to an earlier article which suggested that "Christianity is simply too personal to bring to government and the political sphere".

The original article can be found at  http://www.westniagaranews.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3101895

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Carolyn Goard gave her frank, if confused, opinion that religion and politics shouldn't mix. As an Antiochian Orthodox priest, I can agree with her in one respect: the Church should not be involved in political party politics. Most churches and most clergy would agree with this.  However, there is the fact that our Canadian Constitution states that Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law. The supremacy of God underlines the truth that there are natural and universal laws and rights which cannot rightly be changed at the whim of a legislature or a parliament.  Moreover Pierre Trudeau's revision of the national anthem includes the prayer, "God keep our land glorious and free." I think Trudeau was a very secular man, and yet his Constitution and revision of the national anthem show that we should not ignore God in our national life.



Obviously we cannot apply the Church's canon law to secular law. Canon (church) law concerns those who have freely chosen to follow Christ in faith. Secular law allows no such choice; we have to obey the laws of the land or face the penalties.  The trouble comes when natural and universal laws and rights that come from God are ignored and contradicted by legislation. Then man-made laws tend to reduce our God-given freedom of conscience and religion to our own private thoughts.  When the Judeo-Christian tradition is rejected by our legislators and courts, then  the  resulting ethical vacuum is soon filled by ideologies that seriously limit individual freedom.

Take, for example, the Martin Government's championing of same-sex marriage. Commentators say that nothing much has changed by the passing of a law allegedly extending equal benefits to homosexuals. But what has changed is that the Ontario Ministry of Education has introduced so-called equity policies that require teaching our children from kindergarten to high school that homosexuality is normal and good. Quebec actually forbids parents to withdraw their children from such ideological teaching.

Christian faith is both personal and also public. Christ said that his disciples are salt of the earth and the light of the world, and we should not hide the light under a bushel basket (Matthew 5:13-16).

Christ told us to pray in our closet. He did not tell us to hide our faith in the closet. On the contrary, he said, "Whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels" (Mark 8:38).

When any political party or all of them advocate and pass legislation contrary to the natural and universal laws and rights that come from God, then everyone (including the Church, synagogue and mosque) has every right to speak out and to work for better laws. This is when religion in general and Christians in particular are required to get involved in advocating political policy that is in accordance with natural law and rights, no matter what their political party may be.


Fr David Graham Scott

St Ignatius of Antioch Orthodox Church

St Catharines

 

Comments  

 
0 #3 Concerned Citizen 2015-07-27 15:17
A little contradiction goes a long way. People of faith have the freedom to engage in political party politics. Let's not hide under a bushel and leap out only when bad laws come on the books. Let's be part of the process to create the laws.
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+1 #2 Curtis 2015-07-27 12:37
Fr. Scott has written well. I would love to read more of his thoughts on this topic.He quickly makes the case why the Christian community should be allowed to participate in public policy development, but then ends with the compelling comment why we must.
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0 #1 Ken 2015-07-26 14:03
Perhaps it's time for churches and separate schools to get out from under the public dome of 'charities' and public education funding.

That way faith leaders can help people choose the best political party and parents will have more school curriculum choices.
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