Canada's Official Faith
Written by Link Byfield   
Monday, 11 December 2006
A government resolution to re-enact the homosexual marriage debate was defeated in Parliament last week, by a vote of 175 to 123.

No one was surprised. The resolution was expected to fail. Prime Minister Harper was simply keeping a pledge to social conservatives that he’d reopen the question.The two big leadership votes in Canada this past weekend ended the same way.

However, I think almost everyone accepted that the debate ended a year ago when Martin’s cabinet forced Bill C-38 through Parliament.

People of all formal religious faiths face a conundrum in political life. Laws and policies are based (unavoidably) on moral beliefs about right and wrong. Religious people believe that morals come from God through scripture. To them, certain moral aspects of politics and God can’t be separated.

But the vast majority of citizens (about 80%), though they probably vaguely believe in something called “God,” contentedly sleep in on Sunday, are biblically unread, pray only when desperate, and trust in their own innate moral intuitions.

As a result, Christians (and others) constantly find themselves in unwinnable policy battles.

Christians, like Jews, hold that all humans are made in the “image and likeness” of God. To understand the rights and responsibilities of Man, they say, we must know what God has told us about himself through scripture.

Unchurched people do not know the Bible or what Christians are talking about.

Nonbelievers agree that life is about “choices,” but reject the idea that any choice is universally right or wrong. To accept religious doctrine as authoritative would be to deny the authority of their own inborn moral sense.

The closest nonbelievers can get to any moral absolute is to say that nobody has a right to harm other individuals or society in general.

But just as religious people fail to live up to their own moral codes, so do nonbelievers fail to live up to theirs.

For example, any unbiased clinical assessment of the evidence easily shows that abortion, promiscuity and homosexuality are all harmful. They reduce the population, fracture families, and spread emotional despair, social distrust and physical disease.

But be careful about saying so. Expect to be widely denounced as intolerant.

What most people fail to see is that every political state has an official faith of some sort, and Canada is no exception. Our official faith is in the ideology of “progressivism.” It is the substitution of faith in government for faith in God.

Our great-grandparents, by and large, trusted in God and little in government. We’ve reversed that.

With marriage, for example, the Canadian state has now redefined the meaning of “family.” Nature and religion say it is the procreative union of male and female. Parliament and the courts have decided otherwise.

Most Canadians -- including many “fiscal” conservatives -- have accepted this progressive ideology over the past half-century.

It’s to Stephen Harper’s credit that he does not. He rejects “progressivism,” and has said all along that religious believers must remain a vital and welcome part of the conservative coalition.

This doesn’t mean he will commit political suicide fighting their battles for them. It does mean, however, that he will not assist and support their enemies. He will give social conservatives a fighting chance.

But winning these battles is up to them, not him. And it remains far from clear how they can do it.

 - Link Byfield

Link Byfield is chairman of the Edmonton-based Citizens Centre for Freedom and Democracy, and an Alberta senator-elect.