Stephen Harper's Conservative government is out of step with core Christian values, writes Michael Coren.
ADRIAN WYLD / THE CANADIAN PRESS
I will not be voting Conservative at the forthcoming election. Not because I am committed to party politics — far from it — and nor because I am convinced of the righteousness of any particular politicians — I am certainly not — but for one very simple reason. I am a Christian. Yes, I will not be voting Conservative because I am a Christian.
Layton a man of Faith?
I appreciate that this might sound shocking and run counter to the now familiar religious and political narrative but that’s an equation established only in the past 40 years and only in the United States. It has no foundation in either theology or government. Up until the 1960s American Catholics traditionally voted Democrat and in Britain the Labour or Liberal Party was the home of evangelicals. In Canada our most famous social democrats were Tommy Douglas and Jack Layton, the first an ordained minister and the second a man deeply shaped by his faith.
Having followed Jack Layton's career from the time he took national stage until he died, I am very surprised to hear that he was a man of faith. That he practically exuded integrity is not questionable, but what kind of faith was he shaped by? I have no idea!
It was only when the twin issues of abortion and gay rights began to dominate the political agenda of the Christian right that the unnatural alliance of conservative and Christian began first to develop and then to dominate. Within a generation we had the jarring scene of followers of the social and economic revolutionary Jesus giving time and money to parties committed to military spending, immigration controls, reduction in help to the poor and harsh, often thoughtless words about their opponents.
I've written about this before. The Republicans were ahead of the Democrats in realizing that they had leverage in abortion and gay rights by which they could begin to manipulate the 'Christian' vote. Joining Christians in several ideological areas, they then proceeded to manipulate Christians into joining them in many other areas, eventually bringing many of them to the point of passionately defending values that are completely contradictory to Christianity.
My own conservative credentials began to evaporate more than 18 months ago when I embraced equal marriage and once the door is unlocked it has a habit of opening wide.
Here, Mr. Coren shoots himself in the foot and discredits his credentials to speak for Christians. Embracing equal marriage (ie gay marriage) runs completely contrary to the Word of God in bot Testaments. It is not legalism, it is a matter of having a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ. One cannot do that and embrace gay marriage - it is so repugnant to God.
Unfortunately, when you 'unlock that door', you are on a slippery slope. The door will naturally open wider - sin is progressive, but your relationship with Jesus Christ will suffer increasingly because you have stopped listening to Him.
The journey from legalism to love, or religion to relationship, isn’t directly political as such and it’s dangerous and facile to overly politicize faith. But it’s also downright naïve to think that religion and politics have no mutual hinge. Cue the usual attacks because someone has dared to change his mind, as though evolution is a sin and ideological and spiritual stubbornness a virtue.
Back to the basics. There are many fundamentals at play from a Christian point of view that are relevant but I’ll name just four. Stewardship of the environment, care for the poor and marginalized, the pursuit of peace, and personal integrity.
In terms of environmental protection and ecological concern the argument is almost axiomatic. Contrary to how even other conservative parties and administrations have behaved, the Harper government has allowed ideology to triumph over scientific reality and has empowered deniers who are not given table-room elsewhere. I interviewed many of them over the years and while they’re not always the big oil puppets their opponents claim, they are generally politicians more than experts.
That's funny, I recently read an article stating that there were almost no eminent scientists who actually support global warming? I have also posted a couple articles by or about eminent scientists who believe it is all a scam. As previously stated, I know that global warming is occurring, what I don't know, and neither does anybody else, is how much man is responsible for that warming.
The poor and marginalized? The government’s taxation policies have reversed a long-standing tradition of redistribution and have encouraged the perception that tax is a burden rather than a duty. We’ve heard too much about “the other” and of the so-called undeserving and this is as un-Christian as it is un-Canadian. We share therefore we are.
So, Michael thinks we should be paying more taxes. Half of all our income goes to taxes here in Canada, and it is unChristian to not want to pay more? It is not welfare that Christians resent their taxes going to, it is waste. It is the excesses of politicians and some bureaucrats, it is awful inefficiencies in government handling of money, it is First Nations bands where the chief pays himself a million dollars a year while his/her band lives in squalor. Canadians are extremely generous people and Christians are the most generous demographic, but we don't like throwing our money away.
As for peace, let’s take the single example of the Middle East. The government’s unquestioning support for Israeli policies surprises even Israelis, half of whom are extremely critical of the Netanyahu regime. Supporting Israel is not the same as supporting everything a particular Israeli government does and if we genuinely care about a stable and peaceful future for everybody in the region we will encourage compromise, the removal of settlements and the empowerment of progressive rather than reactionary movements. Rather the Prince of Peace than any kings of the arms trade.
This is an example of how far and how quickly one can slide from the Truth once you 'unlock the door'. There can never be a negotiated peace in Israel because the Palestinians don't want peace; they want the Jews dead! They will accept nothing less if it does not come at the end of the barrel of a gun, and especially if fools keep believing the lies they tell and supporting their terrorist assaults on Israeli civilians. Silence is support!
To withdraw from the West Bank, territory they won in a war they did not start, would be to leave Israel only 6 miles wide in it's middle. That is completely indefensible; and it's not like they won't be attacked again, that's just a matter of time.
When it comes to personal integrity, democracy is best served when politicians feel uncertain and this government has taken power for granted for far too long. Beyond senators on trial and hidden payments there is simply an overwhelming sense of power at any cost and that bruises the body politic beyond recognition.
No argument here. The lengths to which Stephen Harper is willing to go to win an election is not becoming to someone who calls himself a Christian. But is that worth trading him in on someone who may not be any better, or may even be worse?
Open season on Christians
There used to be a fashion for Christians to attach “What Would Jesus Do?” stickers to the back of their cars. Not my sort of thing at all but in that He repeatedly spoke up for the poor, criticized the wealthy, condemned the judgmental, welcomed the stranger and lauded the peacemaker, perhaps we have a few clues to the answer.
One of my big problems with this article is that if Coren doesn't vote Conservative, he will have to vote Liberal or NDP. He could vote Green, but that is just wasting a vote in Toronto. He could vote Liberal, but leader Justin Trudeau made it clear that on issues like abortion, all Liberal MPs had to vote in favour of it regardless of their religious objections. He could vote NDP, where leader Mulcair has called Christians who believe in a baby's right to life, or in the sanctity of marriage as being between a man and a woman (as the Bible says), unCanadian.
Our values have no place in a left leaning Canada, and it will be open season on Christians should either Mulcair or Trudeau become Prime Minister.
So, Mr. Coren, if your faith prevents you from voting Conservative, it should prevent you from voting at all.