Church is not the enemy

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The Article

Critics must acknowledge that religious faith is an essential safeguard on state’s power

Every few years or so, political and social liberalism presents the culture with another empty mantra, intended to dismiss opponents and ridicule their arguments.

Not long ago we had the racism fetish. Conservatives were racist and their policies based on racism.

Remove racist and insert sexist, homophobic or fascist. Or just punch a Tory in the face and say that he offended you.

The reaction to political correctness made all that seem rather stale. So the left moved on. To the grand rallying cry of the need to “separate church and state.” We hear it all the time, repeatedly used to support radical views and silence opposition.

Thing is, the entire concept is nonsensical in contemporary Canada. Worse than that, it’s American. Yes, the country the liberals love to hate developed the notion of separating the state from the church. And it did so not to support the state but to protect the church.

The United States was founded by people who were overwhelmingly evangelical Christian, and who had suffered directly or through their forefathers from state persecution. A major aspect of this persecution had been the Church of England, the established church that had made life difficult for non-conformist Protestants and Roman Catholics.

In fact the entire separation idea was based on allowing religious influence by excluding one specific church denomination from dominating an entire culture. It was never supposed to protect the state from religion, in particular Christianity, because the founders of the United States did not believe that any such protection was necessary.

Essential safeguard

On the contrary, they saw religious faith as being an essential safeguard on the power and influence of the state. How correct they were. The leaders of the campaign against slavery were Christians and the people who forced Abraham Lincoln’s hand both before and during the Civil War were motivated by their Christian zeal.

A century later it was the church, militant but non-violent, that under the guidance of Martin Luther King and a host of Christian leaders thrust the civil rights movement into the consciousness of the American people. The government, the courts and the media just followed the lead of the church.

When people today claim they do not want church interference in their lives or the life of the state, however, all they really mean is that they do not want to listen to anyone who disagrees with them. Moaning on about church and state separation makes them feel as if their arguments carry some intellectual weight.

What is selfish is made to sound grand. What is merely political is made to sound philosophical. They would rather indulge their own complacency than allow people of faith to hold up a mirror to the moral flabbiness of the secular world.

That is particularly sad in this country, and startlingly ironic. The very people who obsess about the separation of church and state tend to worship at the altar of Canadian nationalism, public broadcasting and most of all, socialized medicine.

The latter, of course, owes an incalculable debt to the great Tommy Douglas. Who was an ordained Baptist minister and evangelical Christian, motivated in his politics by his faith and the need to inject church teachings into the Canadian state.

So if we use the logic of the contemporary liberal, Tommy Douglas should have shut up and minded his own business. As should, to name just a few, William Wilberforce when he worked to end slavery in the British empire, Lord Shaftesbury when he led the struggle against child labour and the Catholic monk Titus Brandsma who gave his life to rescue Jews in occupied Holland.

Frankly, I doubt if much of this will make any difference to some of the fiercest critics of the church today. Hey, just punch a priest in the face and say he offended you.

 

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