Monday, April 17, 2006

Politics, Faith Bad Mix?

I smiled when I saw the headline on today’s Kamloops Daily News because I knew exactly what I would be writing about today. Apparently Canadians are becoming increasingly uneasy about mixing politics and religion. A recent poll done for CanWest News Service last week showed that only 63% of Canadians said they’d vote for a party leader and potential prime minister who is an evangelical Christian, even if they liked the party and it’s views. That shows a drop from 80% 10 years ago.

Janice Tibbets (CanWest Reporter) notes that “Canadians appear to be slightly more accepting of a potential prime minister who is Muslim or Atheist.” She goes on to say that the poll also indicates support has slipped for traditional Christian values to play a role in Canadian politics from 45% to 40%.

Finally, here’s one more interesting statistic for you. Only 39% of Canadians agree with the idea that Christians should get into politics to protect their values. That’s down 7% from a decade ago.

Admittedly, I’m not privy to the actual questions that were asked, nor the rest of the results, but it’s pretty obvious to me that there’s a fairly significant trend that has taken shape in our country that appears in a very definite “anti-evangelical” bias. That’s not a real surprise to me (or probably you...) but the “why” behind it is certainly worth exploring.

I think our greatest challenge here lies in the reality that our message has so often been about what we are “against” and very rarely about what we are for. Sadly, our public image has become like the t-shirt message I’ve seen a few times. “I don’t know what it is, but I’m agin’ it.”

It’s true that Jesus said that people would hate us because of Him, but I don’t think that this is entirely what he meant. Jesus is “for” far more than He is “against”. How can you hate Someone who is for forgiveness, mercy, justice, hope, love, peace, grace, equal rights, freedom, kindness, patience, meekness, the poor, the widow, and the orphan? The list could go on and on, but I think you get the point! It seems to me that our great nation would only get better if it had leaders at every level who embraced the same principles, values and virtues that Jesus did.

Changing the national perception isn’t as difficult as you might think. It’s really only a matter of becoming a pro-active movement rather than a protest movement. What would happen if we put our away our signs, billboard and bumper-stickers, stopped banging our fists on tables and just began to engage people in discussion and service? I can tell you what would happen. People would begin to listen to what we had to say because we had earned the right to be heard. People would applaud our heart to serve and recognize that we have something worthwhile to contribute rather than simply relegating us to the sidelines as a voice from yesterday that is no longer welcome or relevant.

Lose the sign - be proactive - get involved...


Danica said...

I think there is a great desire within the Canadian people to protect the part of our identity that embraces people of all faiths, and especially that we can be a refuge for those who are fleeing persecution.
Although Jesus would never have condoned the church abusing it's power over people, the fact is that it has happened in the past. Canadian citizens who don't have a personal relationship with God fear the power and influence of the church, which is unfortunate, but true.

Tim said...

Good point Danica. I'd say that most Canadians fear the power of the church because they believe what the media has told them about the evangelical church. What they don't know, hear or see is the amazing contribution we have made to the social fabric of our nation through community relief, medical care, education, etc..

If you are an evangelical, the media paints you as homophobic, intolerant, bigoted and racist. Granted some evangelicals may fit into that category, but those traits aren't limited to the few who act like that within the evangelical church alone.

Danica said...

Sad but true.