Pardon me, but my Sunny Side Up perspective flipped a bit last week, when a well-known national leader suggested that I — and millions of others who share my evangelical Christian faith — could be anti-Canadian because what we believe doesn’t mesh with the new moral fabric of Canada. His remarks propagate a popular ignorance-based myth: Christianity impedes progress and the advancement of societal liberal ideals.
At issue was a page listing homosexuality as a sin on the website of Crossroads Relief and Development, an evangelical Christian organization. Crossroads has often received matching-grant funding from CIDA to build wells and provide clean water in Uganda, a country known for its persecution of homosexuals.
When others joined the chorus of objections, the government halted the funding in question and placed the organization under review.
Others — many others — share my new “anti-Canadian” status. Gordon L. Heath, professor at McMaster Divinity College in Hamilton, in an earlier article, lists others who identify as evangelical Christians: “Evangelicalism in Canada is now a self-identified movement that includes a wide variety of disparate Protestant denominations as well as some Roman Catholics.”
Evangelical Christians believe that the teachings of Jesus, when practiced, foster peace and respect for one’s neighbors. That the societal curses we struggle to eliminate (poverty, injustice, AIDS, war...) have solutions within those teachings.
They also believe that ignoring God’s moral absolutes results in downward societal and personal spirals. History agrees, overwhelmingly, revealing that as a society shifts from a strong stance of collective moral absolutes, where responsibilities are emphasized over rights, into a rights-based one, a reversal of progress becomes inevitable.
Evangelicals who actively practice their faith (admittedly not all do) understand that Jesus Christ calls them to love and serve those around them. Countless evangelical organizations work tirelessly to relieve poverty and injustice. In 2010, global aid provided by Canadian evangelicals totalled 535 million dollars — of which CIDA provided less than a tenth. And many evangelical Christians actively protect the basic human rights and dignity of even those who don’t share their beliefs.
Evangelicals have much in common with many other faith groups — including the view that homosexuality is a sin. Muslims, Hindus and Jews share that view. But had these groups been singled out, unholy war may have broken out. Sadly, while politically incorrect to criticize other faiths, the season is always open for shooting down Christians — particularly evangelicals.
Canada needs faithful evangelical Christians. (Clearly, faithfulness does not mark us all at all times.) Without them, many volunteer organizations would find themselves scrambling to rebuild their ranks. Our Armed and protective forces would be weakened. Humanitarian aid, within and outside our borders, would lessen dramatically… and far worse.
Heath again: “The task for Canadian Evangelicals today is the same as that of their forebears: attempt to be communicators of good news and at the same time defend against claims to the contrary.” For a dozen years, right here, I’ve done that. You decide if I’m anti-Canadian.
The funding to Crossroads has been reinstated.