Monday, 15 December 2014

Canadian Diversity, Canadian Atheism

In October of this year, two acts of terrorism were committed on Canadian soil, one in Montreal, one in Ottawa. In each case, a Canadian serviceman was murdered by an individual identifying himself as a Muslim. In response to these attacks, some in Canada have suggested that "our" Canadian model of diversity, with its key-notes of pluralism, multi-culturalism, tolerance, and inclusivity, has been insufficiently taught to new immigrants, to our children, and in our communities. It is thought that the men who committed those murders had not been properly instructed in the importance of "Canadian values" and had not properly understood what the core of Canadian identity really is, namely, a deep commitment to diversity, multi-culturalism, pluralism, tolerance, etc.

Some in Canada (for example, Mr. Farid Rohani of the Laurier Institution) have therefore called for a renewed emphasis on "Canadian diversity" and for a new effort by those in authority to teach it in our schools and communities. It has been suggested that religious schools should be denied funding unless they teach pluralistic "values". Usually included in the notion of diversity or pluralism will be the following : freedom of choice (read abortion), gay rights, the importance of celebrating different cultures and ethnicities, gender equality, freedom of religion, and a separation of church and state or religion and state. Again, this is assumed by many to form the core of our Canadian identity.

Recently, however, a survey was conducted by the Canadian Race Relations Foundation. When Canadian respondents were asked to list 10 values in order of importance, multi-culturalism, defined as "respect for cultural and religious differences", was not high on the list. But 64 percent of respondents did agree with the statement that "Canadian multi-culturalism allows people to pursue certain cultural practices that are incompatible with Canadian laws and norms". This suggests that many Canadians are concerned that pluralism or multi-culturalism is itself a problem, not that it has been insufficiently taught to new immigrants, etc. This also calls into question the assumption that it is pluralism, tolerance, and inclusivity that make up the "core of our identity" as Canadians. I suspect that a desire for peace, order, and good government are more indicative of what is in that core.

More importantly, many fail to realize what actually lies behind the constellation of ideas that make up what is called "Canadian diversity". Again, these ideas will include : freedom of choice, freedom of religion (understood in a particular sense), respect for different cultures, gay rights, equality of the sexes, a separation of church and state (again understood in a particular sense). The last in this list is of particular importance here. What needs to be recognized is that to teach these things is to seek to impose a very definite world-view on Canadians. And what also needs to be recognized is that they are indicative of a world-view that is essentially atheistic. They do not represent some safe, neutral, common ground existing in the midst of a battle between competing cosmologies, such as, for example, the Christian or the Muslim or the Marxist interpretation of reality. They simply represent one more world-view competing for dominance. They represent an atheistic view of reality. And I say so because of what is generally understood by "separation of church and state" : that with regard to the formation of Canadian values, with regard to ethics and morals in Canada, with regard to legislation and governance in Canada, God may NOT be considered relevant. This is practical atheism : God and religion are not allowed to have any influence in the development of our supposedly shared world-view.

The problem for many people, perhaps, is that the question "which God, which religion?" seems to be unanswerable. Because it is assumed that all religions are equal, and that Canadians should be free to be Christians or Hindus or Buddhists or Satanists, it is thought impossible to allow ANY religion to have any influence in guiding the formation of our values, ethics, or laws. What is then assumed is that the government must take up a neutral position. It is further assumed that this is actually what has happened. But nothing could be further from the truth. Neutrality is a myth. The pluralism that exists in Canada (still a relatively recent development) is not religiously neutral. It constitutes a real world-view, a set of propositions or assumptions or beliefs about the way the world really is, about reality. It involves an interpretation of reality and that interpretation is atheistic.

Incidentally, as a Christian, I do not believe that the cause of Christianity can be advanced by the use of the iron or civil sword, that is, by coercion. A forced conversion is no conversion at all. I therefore believe in "freedom of religion" in that qualified sense but I do not believe that all religions are equal or that the civil powers are free from the obligation to uphold and protect true religion.

To return to my main point, one has a world-view, one has an idea about the way the world really is, when one assumes that a child can be aborted at any time during a pregnancy. This is a materialistic, naturalistic world-view which assumes that human beings have no soul or spirit, that there is no life after death. The child is thought of merely as physical or material ... as unwanted, inconvenient tissue. One has a world-view when one believes that religion is a personal, private matter, which can never have relevance for the public square. Such a position assumes that all religions are essentially man-made and do not reveal divine truth, which truth, if thought real, would certainly HAVE to be relevant and authoritative in both private life AND the public square. Even if one assumed that God had revealed a little of His truth in each of the religions, it would then be reasonable to try to gather up all that scattered truth and apply it to the formation of our laws and customs. But the assumption is that religion is simply irrelevant in public discourse, and that, therefore, no such divine truth has ever been revealed. In the same way, one has a world-view when one assumes that it is good for two men to marry and have sex with one another. This is a world-view that denies a Creator God with special ends and purposes for His creation, and specifically with His own special purposes for man and woman. It denies a Creator God by denying any purpose for the biological differences between male and female and so it implies an atheistic, evolutionary understanding of man and the universe.

As a Christian, I assume that there should be a distinction made between church and state. They are different spheres, with different purposes. But by that I do not mean that God is to be separated from the state. Both church AND state are under God's authority and both are answerable to Him. God's law, as revealed in the Bible, is no less relevant in Ottawa than it is in my home. It is no less relevant in the public square than it is in my private life. Ottawa is obligated to obey God. The God of the Bible is the God of the Universe and so He is the God of Ottawa, too, and Washington, London, Moscow, Beijing, Riyadh, etc. In fact, I assume that the powers that be in Canada, our elected leaders, our civil magistrates or rulers, are appointed by God. That means that they are responsible to Him and ought to enact laws that are in harmony with His divine laws. I also assume that every human being is likewise responsible to God, the God of the Bible, and will be judged by Him according to His law, and so condemned, or saved by Him according to His electing love and grace.

I realize that some may now want to point out that not everyone in Canada shares my Christian world-view. I am fully aware of that. But here in Canada, and everywhere in the world, different world-views are at variance with each other, in competition with each other, in conflict with each other. What needs to be realized is that our so-called "Canadian diversity", our so-called pluralism, is just another of those competing world-views. It is not neutral ground, it is not a haven of peace in the midst of a battle. It is one of the armies in the battle, a world-view, and an essentially atheistic one, which is most definitely at variance with the other world views ... and especially with the Christian.

So, it is unrealistic to expect Christians simply to abandon their world-view and acquiesce in another, alien, God-denying one. It has been suggested recently that all religious schools in Canada should be made to teach gay rights, freedom of choice, etc. And it has been suggested that public funding should be withheld from them unless they do. So be it. I doubt that Christians are going to abandon the truths of their religion just because the government refuses to fund their private schools. If they did, they would not be Christian. But why would we accept that the Christian world-view cannot be allowed to influence Canadian values, or Canadian laws, but that an atheistic world-view can and must be imposed upon Christian schools and Christian children, by the civil authorities? Apparently, I am not allowed to impose my world-view on anyone, but some clearly have every intention of imposing theirs on me, and on my children and grandchildren.

Lastly, I should mention that I also assume the following : that, in time, Canada will again become a Christian nation, more truly Christian than it has ever been in the past. I assume that God's dominion will truly be "from sea to sea" as is implied in Canada's motto, taken from Psalm 72:8. I assume that His laws will be respected and obeyed, being written not in stone but in the hearts of the majority of men. At that time the preamble of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms will become true, where it says that "Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law". Someone involved in the creation of that charter had the sense to realize, as recently as 1982, that those two things stand or fall together. I also assume that, in time, the battle between the various world-views will end, not only in Canada, but all over the world, and that the Christian world-view will be triumphant, even before the restitution of all things. In the meantime, it is of the greatest import that, as Canadians, we be very aware of what is actually being said when we are talking about "Canadian diversity", and what it is that some are actually wanting to do, namely, impose an atheistic world-view on a whole nation and on people who are not atheists.

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