Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of September 26, 2005
Faith vs. charter – a false choice says evangelical
By DEBORAH GYAPONG
Canadian Catholic News
Catholics and evangelicals should not have to choose between their faith traditions and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the president of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) told Canada's Catholic bishops Sept. 20.
EFC President Bruce Clemenger told the approximately 80 bishops from across Canada that during recent debates about the redefinition of marriage, some suggested that those defending traditional marriage were "somehow un-Canadian for promoting that which was supposedly contrary to Canadian and specifically charter values."
"As Catholics or evangelicals, we should not be asked to bracket our faith when entering the public square," Clemenger said.
Clemenger pointed out that the charter is rooted in concepts of justice that flow from Canada's faith traditions, and not a "freestanding" document.
Without rooting the charter in tradition, philosophy and religion, the courts would be "relying on principles that are but shadows," he said, opening the way to "alterations in meaning."
Clemenger referred to Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain, who helped draft the UN Declaration of Human Rights and edited a small book to explain how peoples of different faiths and cultures could support the document.
"Maritain's point was that the declaration is only universal and only has legitimacy if each of us can affirm it from out of that which makes us distinctive," he said. "So, too, with the charter."
Clemenger warned that if Canada does not remain welcoming to the various faith traditions, "secular will come to mean secularist and there will be increasing pressure on Canadians, when they enter the public square, to deny or neutralize what shapes who they are."
"We must resist these pressures, subtle or overt, and be authentic and faithful to our traditions and churches, in business and education, in the arts, in our neighbourhoods and communities, and as citizens," he said.
"Otherwise there is no religious freedom. Neither will there be an authentic witness."
Clemenger noted that since the early 1990s, the EFC and Catholic organizations like the CCCB and the Catholic Organization for Life and the Family (COLF) have stood shoulder to shoulder on issues such as assisted suicide, the sanctity of human life, and the protection of the integrity of the family.
He hoped Catholics and evangelicals would continue to cooperate in the debate on assisted suicide and euthanasia.
Clemenger noted that the time has come to celebrate the public benefit of religion, especially the Christian faith.
"Not only is living out the Gospel of social benefit, but it is an expression of the pursuit of truth which is at the core of being human," he said.