Canadians encourage the marketplace of ideas, but I think that Christians who wander around the marketplace chatting people up are no longer welcome. An evangelist used to be just another stranger on whom you could slam the door, but soon it may be illegal to even knock. Consider the following stories:
August 21, 2006 Calgary Sun: “Praying aloud gets a man jailed;” A Christian is arrested for obstruction after a complaint was made regarding his quiet observation of an outdoor occult festival. April, 2005: Teacher is suspended after a social commentary on homosexuality is published in local paper; 2001: Ontario Human Rights Commission penalizes printer $5,000 for refusing to print letterhead for a homosexual advocacy group on religious grounds;” February 28, 2005, the Western Standard: Canadian Revenue Agency threatens to withdraw a church’s tax exemption because the minister was critical of the Liberal government’s social policy.
Okay, so do you shrug and think, “Who cares? They probably had it coming.” If you do, shame on you. Today’s irritation with religious zeal will become tomorrow’s state control of virtually everything.
It’s trendy in our post-modern society to dislike and label Christians—if you’re a Christian, you’re a George Bush-Stephen Harper (same thing)-loving, Iraq-fighting, oil-burning, globe-warming, homophobic bigot. Christianity is erroneously seen as a white-man’s religion, a throwback to greedy European colonialism. Moreover, the media tends to categorize religious people under terms like ‘moderate,’ ‘fundamentalist,’ ‘evangelical,’ or ‘funda-gelical.’ Such labels insinuate the following: “Moderates are reasonable, and ‘fundamentalists’ are dangerous.” Seeing that I subscribe to the ‘fundamentals’ of Christianity, I could be considered a “fundamentalist” as defined by the media. Yet, I wince, because in the minds of listeners, the term lumps me with those that fly planes into buildings.
Society is so motivated to pursue individual rights, moral relativism, and to guard against anyone being offended, that it is willing to throw away the overarching freedoms that protect us all by vilifying people that don’t agree. Our problem lies with the definition of the words ‘intolerance,’ and ‘hatred.’ Lately, any public mention of the word ‘homosexuality’ and ‘sin’ in the same sentence is liable to put you in front of the Human Rights Commission for inciting hatred. Sweden, Australia, Britain…Canada. The right to preach unpopular views publicly in these countries is being tested. People do not want to hear, “Repent, or you too will perish,” outside the walls of a church. Not anymore.
Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms is supposed to guarantee freedom of expression and freedom of worship for every citizen, and states we are “under God.” Yet, in Canada, we criticize Stephen Harper for saying, “God bless Canada” at the end of a speech. Why? Because he’s considered a Christian, and Christians have “a hidden agenda.” What is that hidden agenda, exactly?
Since democracy is defined as government by the people, especially rule of the majority, it is only as good as the people who exercise that political authority. I recognize that societal paradigm-shifts make big changes in social policy. But I lament that these present changes make Christianity “scary.” I never thought that my faith might someday put me in a Canadian jail as it does in other countries, but someday, it just might. And I’m afraid that you won’t care.
These headlines serve as a warning for all people who love freedom and democracy in our nation. Societal trends, which seek to protect citizens from religion will actually attempt to destroy religion, at least religion that isn’t sanctioned and regulated by the state.