[I]f Christianity is not good enough or comprehensive enough to be relevant in the realm of law and public policy, then Christianity is nothing more than a quaint intellectual novelty …Timothy Bloedow (p. 65)
On the other side of our country’s northern border lies Canada, where homosexual “marriage” has been nationally legalized, “human rights tribunals” enforce a draconian hate speech regime, courts make outrageous anti-family rulings, and Christians lose a little more of their liberty every day.
“[T]he dignity and equality of gay people should almost always outweigh considerations of religious freedom,” says one of Canada’s lesbian activists (p. 35); and in Canada, according to author Timothy Bloedow, it almost always does.
“Secular Humanists are fighting for total victory,” Bloedow writes, “and they have a clear picture of the goal they are pursuing. This has not been the case for most Christians” (p. 185).
This is a book not only about what Canadian Christians are fighting against, but also what they should be fighting for.
Our Sister Country
Why should we in the United States care what happens north of the border?
Canada is not just another foreign country. We share with Canada a common language and a common heritage of Christian culture and English law. When we visit Canada, we don’t need shots, phrase books, or water filtration kits. Canada is very much our sister country.
We must understand what has happened in Canada to keep it from happening here. And it has already begun to happen here. Many of our college campuses have speech codes and “free speech zones” that can hardly be squared with any rational conception of the First Amendment. The state of California has enacted speech-restriction laws that resemble those in Canada, and Congress has been toying for years with a federal hate crimes bill that could criminalize opposition to the homosexual agenda. Our schools, our universities, and our mainstream media are totally and aggressively secular and anti-Christian. If we say, “It can’t happen here,” we are ignoring the fact that many powerful and influential people are working very hard to make it happen here.
Consider this quote from Canada’s Chief Justice, Beverley McLachlin: “There exist fundamental norms of justice so basic they form part of the legal structure of governance and must be upheld by the courts, whether or not they find expression in constitutional texts [emphasis added]” (p. 53).
This is the top judge in Canada saying that not even the country’s written constitution, let alone laws based on it, can restrain judges from ruling however they please: an exercise in pure autocracy. Few American judges would be so brazen in their language. But before we laugh off an imperial judiciary as a uniquely Canadian foible, remember that our American judges have played equally fast and loose with our own Constitution—whether it’s the U.S. Supreme Court citing imaginary “umbras and penumbras” of an imaginary “constitutional right to privacy” in order to legalize abortion in Roe v. Wade, or the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts citing Canadian law as its basis for legalizing homosexual “marriage.”
It can indeed happen here.
The March of Tyranny
“The real battle in Canada,” says Bloedow, is “to confine the state in the limited sphere given to it by God” (p. xv). But the meltdown into tyranny is “already well underway in Canada” (p. xvi).
Examples abound; in fact, the reader is in danger of being snowed under by examples. Capital Xtra!, Ottawa’s leading homosexual newspaper, has demanded that Christians be legally barred from careers in politics (p. 20). A barber in Kamloops, British Columbia, had his shop vandalized and received death threats for voicing his opposition to organized sodomy (p. 29), while the Vancouver Pride Society, a homosexual group, tried (unsuccessfully) to copyright the word pride (p. 37).
The Canadian Customs and Revenue Agency (Canada’s version of the IRS) announced it would “investigate” Christian clergymen who made political comments during the 2004 elections, threatening to revoke several churches’ tax-exempt status (pp. 81– 82). A justice of the peace in Saskatchewan was haled before a human rights tribunal for refusing to perform a “gay marriage” (p. 115), while an Ontario man was put on one year’s probation for spanking his son (p. 141).
Many marriage commissioners have been fired for not performing homosexual “marriages” (p. 148), and many pro-life pharmacists have been “crushed” for not selling abortion pills (p. 148).
In British Columbia, two homosexuals have been given, by the governor, the authority to vet all public school curricula; but that wasn’t enough for them. Complained one, “There was no point in us getting queer-positive information into the curriculum if it meant parents would be pulling their children out all the time” (p. 153).
It’s impossible to keep track of such incidents in Canada. New ones are reported in bunches every day.
Indispensable to the progress of tyranny in Canada are the grossly misnamed human rights tribunals. These, says Bloedow, “have been among the most dangerous weapons wielded against pro-family Canadians … They have been appropriately caricatured in recent years as ‘homosexual rights commissions’” (p. 30); and a number of examples follow.
Sitting on these tribunals and handing down rulings are neither judges nor lawyers, but anyone appointed by a provincial human rights commission—usually gay activists, Marxist college professors, or feminists. They are not bound by rules of evidence, or even by their own precedent. All the plaintiff’s legal expenses are paid by the government, but the defendant must shoulder his own. The tribunals have not—yet—been given the authority to hand down prison sentences. But a $10,000 fine, plus lawyers’ fees, is usually enough to silence any ordinary citizen who dissents from Canada’s homosexual program.
Why Put Up with It?
Why do Canadians tolerate these goings-on?
Most Canadians, says Bloedow, are neither secular humanists nor Christians, “and would conform their lives with little objection to whatever legal framework was put in place by their government to deal with abortion, environmental regulations, homosexuality, gambling, privacy regulations, pedophilia, securities regulations, drug use, or marriage, as long as they were confident that they were living in a generally free and equitable society in which they could pursue their own dreams and ideals free from unwanted interference by people who would do them harm. Activists may be able to stir up short-term emotion, but most people just move on with their lives” (p. 170).
Does it, then, come down to apathy?
More than that, says Bloedow: Canadian Christians have not tried hard enough to give their countrymen a vision of something better. Meanwhile, as long as they’re not affected personally, most Canadians are content to let public policy alone.
Christians must ask Canadians a key question, Bloedow says: “Would you rather be subject to the Judeo-Christian/biblical law-order or the impositions of Secular Humanism—or Islam, or Buddhism, or Hinduism, or any one of a number of other religions?” (p. 170).
“The bottom line,” he explains, “is that Christianity is superior to other faiths and worldviews. Its contributions to culture, political theory and public morality gave us civilization and societies that are the envy of genuinely oppressed people everywhere” (p. 78).
But why should Christians, any more than activists, be able to do more than stir up a fleeting emotional tic in an otherwise inert and self-centered nation?
The Big Picture
In Canada, and throughout the Western world, it comes down to a clash of diametrically opposed worldviews, Christian vs. secular humanist. And Christians have been losing most of the skirmishes, Bloedow says, because they neither think in terms of “the big picture,” nor act, or present their arguments in such terms.
“So, if Christians are serious about regaining control over the definition of marriage, then they are going to have to take back a lot more than marriage. We are in a culture war, not a single-issue war … fighting for marriage alone, while leaving the intellectual pillars of Secularism in place, is a losing battle—as is indicated by the defeat social conservatives have faced thus far in this conflict” (p. 134).
What is the secularist worldview? Bloedow takes pains to define it: “This all-pervasive idea of civil government as god” (p. x); an “ideology which … places all business activity under the authority of an interventionist civil government” (p. 5); which features “the almost complete transference of control over sexual morality to the state” (p. 101) at the expense of the family, the church, and the conscience of the individual.
For the secularist, every “problem,” great or small, calls for action by the government (p. 108). Under the pretense of promoting “liberty” and “equality,” the secular state swallows up jurisdictions traditionally and Biblically reserved to church, family, neighborhoods, or individuals. “The entire homosexual agenda is predicated on forcing a tyrannical state to take up residence in people’s bedrooms,” writes Bloedow (p. 113). Redefining basic human institutions like marriage and family, all in the name of expanding personal liberty, inevitably sucks the state deeper and deeper into its citizens’ lives: “a vast expansion of the rule of law into the sphere of intimate relations” (p. 121).
We don’t need to go to Canada to find the state metastasizing in all directions. City governments here in the U.S.A. routinely outlaw trans fat, provide school breakfasts and sex education, ban smoking in bars and restaurants, levy extra taxes on motorists (who presumably are not driving in those jammed city streets because they have strange notions of fun), while proclaiming “sanctuary” for illegal aliens and handing out free needles to drug addicts, and so on. Do government officials even suspect there might be limits to their authority?
The secularist worldview, refusing to acknowledge the true God, sets up the state as a false god. The secularist can appeal to nothing higher than the state. Denying God, and thus unable to articulate or even conceive of any absolute morality, it has nothing to offer but “licentiousness, lewdness, and libertinism” (p. 164)—in return for which the state claims the right to take everything we have.
The Christian View
By contrast, the Biblical doctrine of the state features “accountability, decentralized government, localism, individual liberty, and self-government” (p. xiii). The civil government is only one of several God-ordained spheres of authority, along with the church, the family, and the individual’s own self-government. Each sphere is under God, the ultimate authority, and accountable to Him.
Bloedow discusses “the need to roll back Secular Humanism and its agenda of tyranny by fighting to rein in the state to its legitimate sphere of authority, with the church and the family reclaiming the territory they have lost over the past few decades” (p. 103). The Christian agenda is to shrink the state, not grow it—and to rely on God, not brute force or popular opinion—for its standards of public and personal morality.
Christianity offers a coherent law-order, consistent, predictable, unchanging, and applied equally to everyone. “We have nothing to apologize for as Christians for advancing God’s law,” Bloedow writes, “including His teaching about the jurisdictional boundaries for the legitimate function of the state, the church, and the family” (p. 143).
There is, and always will be, an inescapable choice presented to the people: will they be ruled by God’s laws, or man’s whims?
“When we start to live an active faith and vision, Christians will see conversions … and the re-Christianization of Canada,” says Bloedow (p. 182). Secularism gets support because “they appeal to the broad-based recognition by people of their personal failure to live up to their own ideals” (p. 182); but Christians ought to live in such a way that their example inspires others. Rather than be imposed from the top down by some boogeyman of a “theocracy,” the re-Christianization of Canada is to come about voluntarily, from the bottom up (p. 181). For this, personal conversion and commitment to Christ is absolutely necessary.
Christians and Politics
For the most part, Bloedow’s arguments and exhortations are the same as those Chalcedon has been advancing for 40 years. But we do take issue with him on one point.
Canadian Christians, he says, need “bold and courageous leadership” of the kind provided to America by President George W. Bush (p. 165). Having suffered through the slack-jawed, slothful leadership of Jean Chretien and Paul Martin, Canadians perhaps can be excused for seeing in Mr. Bush a kind of modern-day King David. But we see very little evidence of Mr. Bush’s presidency having been influenced by Biblical principles.
Much of Bloedow’s argument is devoted to demonstrating that Christians have a duty to get involved in government and public policy. “It would appear that … many Christians have bought into the notion of their enemies that Christianity alone when applied to the civil governance of the nation is an expression of intolerance and fertile ground for destructive abuses,” he says (p. 65). And, “if Christianity is not the driving force behind the laws and public policy in Canada, another religion or worldview will be” (p. 61). “Christians who abandon this sphere [government] to others are denying a fundamental aspect of their faith in God” (p. 75).
As publishers of a magazine entitled Faith for All of Life, we would certainly agree that Christians ought to play a part in politics and government. But as American citizens who have been repeatedly disappointed by politicians who run as Christians and govern as secularists, we are skeptical about the curative value of political power. First-century Christians were willing to live peacefully under an overtly pagan Roman government, even though it actively persecuted them. But they understood that the source of their power was spiritual, not political, and with spiritual weapons, they conquered. We must not forget this.
We can’t know whether a “Christian” candidate, if elected, will actually govern as a Christian. As citizens, all we can do is “vote our values” every time, pressure our elected officials to govern according to Christian principles, and oust those who disappoint us. Our political work must always be from the grassroots on up, not from the White House on down. All the latter gets us is bigger and bigger government.
Canada would benefit by having more leaders who at least try to adhere to Biblical morality and are not energetically committed to socialism, sodomy, and relativism. But unless the Canadian people, inspired by the example of strong Christians, purposefully dedicate themselves to Christianity, even the best leaders will labor in vain.
How can we help our Canadian Christian brethren?
We can use our new media—the Internet, talk radio—to encourage and support them, to set up a kind of cybernetic “Radio Free Canada.” Whatever censorship the Canadian government might impose in the future, we can help Canadian Christians get their message out.
We can also support Canada’s Christian and pro-family organizations, by joining them and paying dues, by making contributions, etc. As we speak, Canadian Christian warriors are circulating email newsletters, holding conferences, seeking out Christian candidates to run for Parliament. We can help fund and organize these activities.
But most importantly, a strong Christian America will exert an enormous influence on her neighbor to the north. The advancement of Canada’s secularist tyranny encourages those who pursue the same ends in America; but influence is a two-way street. Canada’s Christians will be energized and heartened by the success of America’s Christian movement. The seeds we plant, when they bear fruit, will cross-pollinate with those next door in Canada.
And yes, we recommend this book.