Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
June 7, 2010
Atheists getting a free ride - MP
No one questions whether they have undue influence
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS
OTTAWA - Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl says a double standard is at work for Christians and politics.
"You never hear complaints about the role of atheists in the public square," the evangelical Christian said.
Whenever you hear complaints about the undue influence of faith, it is always Christians in the hot seat, he told a gathering sponsored by the Canadian Council of Churches and the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada.
Yet Strahl said whether God created the universe or life occurred through a unique collision of random material forces or God doesn't exist are "equally matters of faith."
But that does not stop the predictable "overheated discussion" that seems to happen every year around the time of the National Prayer Breakfast.
This year, the release of Marci McDonald's The Armageddon Factor: The Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada prompted an additional flurry of concern about a so-called Christian right manipulating the levers of power.
Strahl, who has been in public life for 17 years, said he has never hidden his evangelical faith. Because he represents the Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon riding - what's known as the "buckle" of the B.C. Bible Belt - being open about his beliefs has never been a problem.
At the same time, he stressed it would be wrong to use his position to force his faith position on others. Equally, it is impossible for him to divorce his faith from his role.
Strahl said he tries to be guided by Micah 6.8: "What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?"
He spoke of Jesus' ministry as an example, noting Christians should be the first to reach out and help others and the last ones to legislate from a faith perspective.
"Jesus broke a lot of hearts when he made it clear he was not here to establish his kingdom here on earth," he said. Jesus showed us how to love sacrificially, he did not try to legislate, browbeat or force people into his kingdom.
The kingdom of Christ is an otherworldly kingdom, he said. A Christian "is not a utopian like Marx, Lenin or Mao," who might justify killing some people because the end justifies the means.
Some constituents find it hard to understand that he must represent all people in his riding, not only those who share his faith. "This is not a theocracy," he said. "And Christians don't want one."
The fact that Christian MPs serve everyone is "not a matter of water in the wine, it is simply a job description," he said.
Avoiding the temptation to legislate matters of faith can be done because Jesus didn't do it, he said. "It does pay to remember that good policy will resonate with all faiths."
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