Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
May 10, 2004
The seed of truth shall grow
The test of this pudding will have to be in the taste. Not enough parliamentarians were convinced that MP Svend Robinson's anti-hate bill - which outlaws expressions of hatred directed at people because of their sexual orientation - is a threat to religious freedom in Canada.
So the bill passed the House of Commons and the Senate. Only time will tell whether Christians and those of other faiths will find themselves charged or convicted of a criminal offence for defending their religion's doctrines about sexual activity.
Parliamentarians were unconvinced this will happen. Religious leaders, however, aware of some successful prosecutions by human rights bodies, are more than a little leery.
Certainly no legitimate religious body wants to promote hatred against homosexuals. The dignity of homosexuals - and of all people - should always be respected. And the great religions have been the leading force over the centuries in helping humanity rise above hatred of strangers and those who are different.
This is not to suggest that the record of the religions and of people of faith is pure. Pope John Paul, for example, took the important step of using the Great Jubilee to apologize for wrongs committed by the sons and daughters of the Church. It will take more than a papal apology to overcome the legacy of discrimination that is sometimes attached to religious belief. Our welcoming of the stranger cannot be qualified by a strong-willed advocacy of moral truth. We cannot compromise on either truth or compassion.
In today's cultural climate, that is a tough one. The Church's record of compassion to those on society's margins is often hidden from the popular mind. And the notion that there is such a thing as objective moral truth and that it ought to play a guiding role in society is not well accepted in the secular mainstream.
Still, that Robinson's Bill C-250 has now passed Parliament is no reason to sink the ship. We should not pay heed to the comment by Dr. Charles McVety, president of the Canada Family Action Coalition, that Bill C-250 was passed just in time to silence opposition to same-sex marriage during the election campaign.
If that was the intent, it will surely fail. Same-sex marriage will be on the election agenda and voters with concerns should raise it with politicians on the doorstep or at public meetings. They should feel free to quote the Bible or use other religions' sacred books, as well as using secular reasoning to argue against same-sex marriage.
If it should turn out that engaging in a reasoned debate on a major public issue becomes cause for a criminal investigation, we are in deep trouble as a democracy. Not only religious freedom is in danger, but the whole democratic project.
People of faith need to take heart. We may lose the battle over same-sex marriage, but the issue will not go away. Just as the effects of 35 years of legal abortion are now being felt throughout society, it will not be all that long before the effects of government-approved homosexuality will take its toll.
One may say that the pro-life movement has had very few victories over the past 35 years. But the biggest victory is that it is still very much alive, despite disdain and persecution from society's ruling elites. The truth is not easily crushed.
Ultimately, it cannot be crushed at all. For the truth is not a political movement dependent on funding and organizing talents; it is ever present in the human heart.
Seventy years of massacres, persecution and propaganda severely distorted the societies of Eastern Europe and especially the Soviet Union. But they did not kill the truth. And finally the truth did rise up to tear down communism and plant the seeds for a better, freer society. It will happen here too.
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