We asked readers on Jan. 4, 2002, if they agreed with Archbishop Michael Peers’ New Year’s Day sermon, in which he warned that Canada seems to be moving toward a secular society, devoid of any mention of faith in the public arena. The warning touched a nerve, it would seem. The website received nearly 60 responses in three days — many of the letters are below. The original story was entitled ‘Canada trying to suppress religion in public arena, warns Primate’, and the sermon is now also online. More responses will be added as they are received.
Note: the earlier news story noted that the church’s executive council had decried the omission of religion from the Sept. 11 memorial service; in fact, the issue was raised at council but no action was taken.
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I feel it is clear that what the Primate has stated is true. What needs to be done is for mainline churches, such as ours, to show clearly how it is possible for Canadian society to arrive at (or regain) a position where the religious faith of all citizens is acknowledged and even respected, while continuing to honour the positive aspects of the stance we as a society have embraced and have come to know as the separation of church and state.
Fence-sitting? I suppose, but as a Canadian, I prefer to see it as a compromise intended for the benefit of all sides. I don’t believe it is necessary to negatively impact one side of this debate in order to support the other.
David F. Watts
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I believe that upholding the place of religion and culture in Canada is essential in these changing times. Archbishop Peers is so right in asking that we respect religious beliefs and practices, whilst we ourselves express faith through our Judeo-Christian inheritance. It is possible for a special public service to be framed with sensitivity towards other world faith traditions, and it is to be deplored that the memorial service on Parliament Hill on the same day as the national prayer service in Washington D.C. was not inclusive of leaders of faith in this vast nation of Canada.
Rev. Derek F. Nicholls (Retd.)
Diocese of Qu’Appelle
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Canada is a secular society. We have no authority to instruct society at large, only to behave Christian-like and influence Canadians one by one. We have no, or not frequent, right to demand Christian standards of the Parliament of Canada. Christians now have the restricted, circumscribed need to influence individuals, not society in the bulk. The Primate is wrong.
Hugh MacKay * * *
Yes, I agree with the Primate’s comments in his recent sermon at the Ottawa cathedral.
Diocese of Quebec * * *
Enough is enough, let us now completely revert to the faith that Canada was built upon and not what these narrow minded dictators now think as they try to control Canada. I am behind the Primate 100 per cent and ask him to continue to show up the irresponsibility that is perpetuating within our society.
St. John’s Church
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It is my opinion that we are so afraid of treading on toes and offending people, we have taken the opposite stance. Religion has a place in Canadian society. Gordon Hamlin
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The Primate’s contention that religion and culture are intimately mixed is, if anything, an understatement. Multiculturalism aside, the great majority of our citizens are, whether they will accept it or not, Christians. That includes agnostics and atheists. This is a Christian Culture — perhaps being rapidly diluted. We are not only creators of our culture, but its creation. For 2,000 years we people of the West have been exposed to the enormous influence of Christ’s teachings; our very fabric is Christian; our institutions are born of it; there is nothing in our physical, spiritual and psychological environment that is not imbued with the Spirit of Jesus Christ.
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For our nation to ban the public expression of faith from our national life is foolhardy, dangerous and flies in the face of common sense. For our military to ban the name of God from the lips of our chaplains would be utterly laughable, if it were not so depressing. It is time for us as a nation to do some pretty serious soul searching. At least I hope we will be able to admit we have a soul! Rev. Carlton K. Larsen
Pipestone Valley (Lutheran) Parish
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I think that the Primate has missed the point altogether. The memorial services he speaks so glowingly of that took place in Britain and the United States were oppressive, exclusive, and, to me, calls to a holy war with the singing of the Battle Hymn of the Republic. As an educated (MTS – Huron College) and practising Anglican, I was proud of Canada’s memorial service – and I was welcomed – as were 100,000 other people. No building could hold that number. How welcome were the Islamic mullahs and Jewish rabbis in the episopal/Anglican “temples” that pronounced the full weight of a “state” church? Instead, quietly and in silence, outdoors and together, Canadian of all faiths and creeds stood together against the hatred of fundamentalism.
The Primate is showing the exclusive nature of religion once again through his comments – shame on him.
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Agreed. Tolerance does not mean that the differences in faith are hidden or ignored; it means that faith differences and similarities are acknowledged, and that each person is free to evolve in their decisions on faith throughout their life.
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I was surprised and disturbed by the absolute secularism of the “memorial service,” though Canadian-resident friends told me they found the time of silence prayerful. True multiculturalism and true respect demand that each religion be accorded its own reality – i.e., there should not be homogenization in interfaith worship. And politicians should not be part of it. I was deeply moved by the American service at the national cathedral, with representatives of many faiths taking part – until the president got up and spoke as if he had heard nothing of what had gone before. Linda M. Maloney
Saint Cloud, Minn.
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Thank God Archbishop Michael Peers spoke out. What took him so long? Of course I agree with him that faith is an integral part of culture; ask any Jew, Native Canadian or Muslim.
When will we as Canadians wake up to the fact that we are indeed no longer a Christian nation, thanks in large part to Pierre Trudeau’s effort. If ever the Gospel needs to be proclaimed it is now, and in Canada. We avoid the Gospel and faith as part of our culture at our peril.
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I totally agree that religion has a place in our society. It is what our culture, our moral beliefs, our whole system of standards and law are based on, whether we claim to be religious or not. As a Christian and an Anglican I deplore the way in which our society is heading, as if God either does not exist or can be excluded when convenient. Mary Burridge
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I couldn’t agree more with the Primate’s comments and they are long overdue. In many spheres of public life, religion is under attack or subject to exclusion, largely through the mistaken view that any religious expression is offensive. A separation of church and state is not the same as a public sphere empty of religion. I support and encourage the Primate and other church leaders to start fighting this tendency with vigour or we may find ourselves at a point where any public expression of religious feeling is considered to be illegitimate. Church leaders have a clear obligation to defend the rights of public religious expression wherever they are challenged.
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The Primate raises some interesting points, but I think there’s a big difference between the suppression of religion and governments declining to associate themselves with religious groups for something like the post-Sept. 11 ceremony on Parliament Hill. While I totally agree there must be public space for people to practise and even celebrate their faiths within their own cultural contexts, governments often get in trouble when they try to associate themselves with religion. One faith/denomination or another almost always ends up feeling it has been given short shrift. Unless of course (and this is even worse), there is a close identification between the state and one particular religion, as with the Taliban until recently, or the Church of England up till the end of the colonial period (and even now, vestigially).
Faith groups end up in trouble when they cozy up too closely with government, or inadvertently allow themselves to be used for political purposes. The classic example might be seen in the way the four historic mission churches co-operated willingly with the government in running the residential schools.
I prefer the absence of religious representation at the Parliament Hill ceremony to the Washington service that looked like the religious representatives blessing George Bush and his subsequent attack on Afghanistan. Ditto for London.
Much better that we hold our own community services (interfaith or otherwise), and invite political figures to participate like any other citizen, but not cozy up to them simply because they are powerful (See James 2:1-7).
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Archbishop Peers’ message is long overdue. I watched with dismay the Sept.11 memorial service on Parliament Hill because it seemed throughout that something was lacking. In its effort to appear politically correct the government is indeed ignoring the deep cultural and faith-based ties that give meaning to so many in life and at the death of loved ones. Perhaps we are not comfortable with the self-assurance of Americans that “God is on our side.” However, in going to polar opposite extremes the government does not serve Canadians of many faiths. In fact, we find little comfort in memorial services which have no mention of God or faith whatsoever. Indeed, there is only a fine line separating elimination of any and all religious references and suppression of religion.
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I was so glad to read of the Primate’s response to our seeming lack of religion as it is presented in Canadian society. I too was horrified by the Sept. 11th service that was presented on Parliament Hill. In absolute contrast, I watched with enjoyment both services that emanated from the United States, especially the one in Washington Cathedral. Surely the result of trying to eliminate religion in the former USSR cannot be written larger across the world page. And what about Korea? And China? Faith is flourishing in both countries.
By eliminating all references to religion in public, the powers that be have indeed insulted a large segment of our Canadian population – those who count faith as a very important – yes, necessary – part of their lives.
Rev. Brenda M. McKnight
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For once, I agree with the Primate’s remarks, at least as they have been selectively quoted. The favour and intrinsic “goodness” of religion in Canada has waxed and waned depending upon many exigencies. However, in a country which claimed at least 87.5per cent as being of some religious affiliation (according to the 1991 Statistics Canada report), with at least 83.6 per cent of Canada’s population claiming to be some version of Christian, the recent public policies and acts of the federal government have been scandalous to say the least.
Religion has as much a place in the public forum as the public insists that it does. If we, the “public”, won’t claim our religious cultural values, then the silent majority will only get trounced by the ever more increasingly vocal non-religious minority.
Fr. Michael J.J. Collier
Anglican Catholic Church of Canada
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As long as Christianity concentrates on love, forgiveness, hope, faith, how can society lose! Our position should be that Canadian society was and is founded on Christian principles; we will allow you to search and worship your God (who may not be all that different than ours) however, let not the norms of your society impinge on ours.
Press on Primate Michael!
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Canada was founded on Judeo Christian beliefs and ethics and we must continue to follow these principles. We are leaning too far to accommodate our ‘multiculturalism’. Everyone should be accepted for who they are and their beliefs should be recognized as well. No faith should be put down anywhere and we as Christians should be allowed to celebrate that fact anywhere, at any time, without prejudice. We must, of course, respect the laws of the country. Beverley Whitehouse
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I agree wholeheartedly! Bishop Fraser Berry
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The Primate is correct when he draws from the Soviet experience, for there is a vital lesson to be learned there. Remove the public expressions of Christ from society, and the culture collapses inward on itself. Todd & Theresa Meaker
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I am delighted to hear the Primate express his concerns publicly. It is time that we Christians (and especially we Anglicans) quit being apologetic about our faith. We need to recognize that our faith is something priceless and of great value. So many in our world are searching for answers, meaning and purpose and for fear of offending we cease to share what we have found thus denying those who are seeking. Sharing our faith does not mean we are insensitive to others’ beliefs, it is simply as someone once said, “one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread” Elizabeth Wolfert
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It is folly to try to avoid that which may be controversial. I would rather see a curriculum in our schools that teaches about all major world religions rather than relegate religion to the home.
What benefit is freedom of religion if we are not to give voice to what we believe and forms our ultimate values?
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It is beyond me how one can hold a memorial service for the dead without including religion. Where is the hope for those suffering if all that can be offered for solace is some kind poetry or gentle prose? While these words may sooth the mind for a time, they do nothing for the soul and leave one just as despairing in the end. It astounds me that our government leaders admit to being Christian, but openly acknowledge purposefully excluding their religion from their business.
Has our faith become something that we can willingly turn off whenever it comes into conflict with the world? What have we become as a nation?
Cold Lake, Alta.
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I agree wholeheartedly with Primate Michael Peers’ view of the supression of religion in Canada. Edith Dayton
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Having seen the smears in the last federal election, the snubs after Sept. 11, the overall discrediting of faith by this supposedly tolerant government and its friends in media and lobby groups amounts to bigotry of the lowest order, and absolutely ignores the charter’s right to freedom of conscience. Every religion, the social engineers would say, is good and valid, so long as it is not the religion of “white Europeans” who are a tainted, opportunistic, irredeemable group, whose ways and customs must be abandoned at all costs.
And we, the people, let them.
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I agree with the Primate — 100,000 people gathered on Parliament Hill looking and searching and while they probably wouldn’t verbalize it, I believe they were looking for a connection with ‘God’ whatever their tradition, In time of trouble we turn to the faith of our ancestors, however tenuous our own relationship with religion, faith and God for comfort.
I emailed our political leaders, to show my disappointment, especially when the Americans and the British had very deliberate mentions of God, and worshiped in Cathedrals as well as in the open air. I had a response by all except the Prime Minister and the party he leads.
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I agree completely with Michael Peers’ statement. Much of what he is observing is also, alas, true about the United States. Faith is important – no matter what any government may think. Some of my friends who have no faith aren’t bothered by my having it. And, I’m willing to let them think that they don’t believe in anything. Theirs and my ‘beliefs’ are integral to all of us and to our country. Ann S. Lowell
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Christian values are part of our legal and political systems (I would hesitate to include our commerce at this point in time). The very fact that people of many cultures and religious beliefs can live together peacefully in Canada is a strong legacy of the continuing Judeo-Christian impact on our nation. I applaud the Primate and others for speaking up. Only through public attention and subsequent debate will Christian influence be given its proper due in the new Canadian order of things.
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I share the point, but where does “religion” end – with Christianity? Or are other world religions included and how would they all get on stage at a given event? Again, I share the point, but how does this apparently frivolous question get resolved. I look forward to your comments. David J. Osmond
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I was very disappointed with the Sept. 11 memorial service and agree with the Primate. Maria Kiernan Smith
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The service at Vancouver’s Christ Church Cathedral after Sept. 11 was in fact a wonderful testimony to all the faiths which were represented there, and we were fortunate to have Michael Ingham preach on behalf of the Christians a very passionate and appropriate sermon. I am glad that the Primate is speaking out as I thought the service in Ottawa missed an opportunity to show the world and each other how we do live together in faith in this country. Thank you Michael.
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The Primate is correct. This is seen in the holiday concerts at schools songs about reindeer and snowflakes but not any real Christmas carols. Mary Hall
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I agree wholeheartedly with Primate Michael Peers that “faith and culture are intimately linked” and I support his efforts to keep this issue before the church, the Canadian government and the people. Jean Koning
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Archbishop Peers is very right in his condemnation of the compulsory secular humanism that the government of this country is forcing upon an unwilling public. Despite what the American Civil Liberties Union and their ilk claim, you do not make religious freedom by banning religion.
N. C. Bland
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You bet I agree with the Primate. Let us never forget who made us all (and Ottawa). William Fowlow
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Does an “interfaith” service or occasion now mean “no faith”? To realize that the mention of Christian belief in time of sorrow and fear was not a part of a Canadian government event such as the memorial service for Sept. 11 victims is dispiriting and alarming, especially knowing that other countries who embrace Christianity among its faiths had services which included it. My husband and I still believe in flying the banners high on occasions when Christian banners are appropriate.
Mary and Bob Steele
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I am sorry to see the direction that our Canadian government is taking concerning the exclusion of religions in public affairs across this country of ours. I feel that the Lord has blessed us greatly since this country of ours was conceived. This was accomplished through our forefathers who considered their faith something to build on not to ignore as our current leaders seem to feel they can. Do they not realize what God has done for them? It is not anything that they have done on their own, but what God has given them the ability to do. If we continue along this path we will self destruct as so many other countries in this world have in the past.
When it comes to elections we must make sure that people with faith are elected to office in Ottawa. Let us all remove our apathy towards government and elections and do something about the problem.
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I wholeheartedly agree with our Primate. He’s quite right to remind us that culture and faith are intimately related. To perpetuate an ethos that faith has no place of expression at our great public moments as Canadians is simply not acceptable – and that’s what our government and many media pundits are doing. Today I listened to the president of the United States as he spoke during a large press conference in Portland, Ore. The hundreds of people present indicated by their enthusiastic cheers that they support the president’s assertion that he “believes in the power of prayer”.
Shame on Canada’s leaders.
Rev. Steve Bailey
Diocese of New Westminster
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I applaud this sermon. We need more like it. My fellow Anglicans, it’s time active, believing Christians got off their deferential, politically correct backsides and declared that this country was built upon traditions and values and culture spawned by Christianity!
It seems to me the ChrÈtien regime is especially unfriendly to the Christian religion – in pursuit of its politically-self serving vision of a pluralistic, multi-ethnic, secular and Godless society!
Witness its destructive treatment of the four mainline Christian religions it has zealously attacked in the residential schools fiasco (a windfall surely only for lawyers!) and its despicable edict to military chaplains not to mention the name of Jesus Christ in public ceremonies !
Parish of Saint Thomas the Apostle
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It was good to hear of the Primate’s sermon. Religion is central to all that I do and to the group of people with whom I most closely associate. I wonder why the organizers of the memorial service did as they did. Jim Coupland
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Something just occurred to me – our prime minister’s surname: it means “christian”. L. O’Connor
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An open, multicultural society is not one in which the lowest common denominator is sought, but one in which diversity is celebrated. That diversity, of course, will lead to conflict–not all values are congruent, some will be in conflict with each other. But those conflicts can only be worked out with some degree of civility if the basic views of reality on which they are based can be publicly shared, discussed and debated. Rev. Dr. Cam Harder
Lutheran Theological Seminary
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We, the people, may have to get more involved than marking an “x” every four or five years. The basic fabric of who we are as a nation, people or example to the world is the sum total of our belief and faith. We must never allow anyone to be seen as diminishing that belief or faith in any way. I encourage the Primate and others to continue to be more vocal and deliberate in our defence of that principle. I speak for myself only, not my parish or the church in any way. Rev. Charles Harris
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I agree entirely with the Primate about the danger of the complete secularization of our society. While it’s very important that all religious faiths be recognized and accepted, it is every bit as important that we, as a society, recognize the importance of faith in both private and public life. Like the Primate, I felt both sad and uncomprehending that the memorial ceremony on Parliament Hill after the Sept. 11 attacks included no prayers. I have been remiss in that I have not written my member of Parliament about this but I mean to do so now.
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Does the Archbishop mean, ‘religion ‘ when he says ‘faith ‘? If so, it is more appropriate to say ‘faith is part and parcel of culture’ ; or far better to say ‘ religion is part and parcel of culture ‘. Nirmal Mendis
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I agree with Archbishop Peers that religious involvement is avoided in Canada. One reason may be for fear of offending anyone. The downfall is that we become accustomed to hiding our religion and not expressing our views in a religious context. Without religion (specifically without Christ) we are doomed as a people. Why can we not include our beliefs in our everyday conversations for the benefit of all?
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I was privileged to hear Michael Peers talk about these issues on New Year’s Day. I think he has put his finger on an important issue — that is, because we are a part of a dominant culture, what is it that is distinct about our being Christian? And how do we incarnate it in the daily affairs and the long-term life of a community and a broader culture?
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I think Michael Peers soft pedalled the issue. It seems that any faith perspective is respected except for the Christian view. I wondered if this was an attack of paranoia but don’t think so as quite a few of my friends seem to have the same view as myself! R. Christine Tucker
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I agree with what the Primate said about leaving out reference to our Christian faith in the public arena. It is a golden opportunity to witness to our faith. It is only by our faith that we are able to face the problems of life. Let our light shine! Dorothy Chabot
Diocese of Algoma
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I agree wholeheartedly with the Primate. The majority of people in Canada have some form of faith in God and it is the responsibility of the government to find an appropriate way to express that when there is a need in national events. Bob Webster
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I agree with the Primate’s comments. Charles Ferris
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I wholeheartedly agree with the Primate!!! Jim Morell
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I think the Primate is right on with his comments on official secularism from our federal government. I do believe in a healthy pluralism — the freedom to share all our different expressions of faith with all our neighbours. There is a kind of “multi-faithfulness” that can celebrate the faith of other people, while unashamedly celebrating one’s own as well.
The timid attitude of the federal government was first seen in their attempt to censor Christian references out of a so-called inter-faith memorial service after an aircraft crash in the Maritimes.
Ironically, this secularism flies in the face of the constitution, which proclaims that Canada is founded on the rule of law and the supremacy of God.
Canon Fletcher Stewart
Henry Budd College for Ministry
The Pas, Man.
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The lack of religious involvement in the Parliament Hill Memorial Service for the victims of the events of Sept. 11 is indicative of what is happening in Canada generally, with shopping, sports and recreation becoming normative on Sunday for Canadian society. It’s a trend that I find very worrisome. Canon Tony Hitsman
Diocese of Quebec
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We are a community of veterans who have served Canada in World War II and the Korean War. Many of us identify our time of military service as a time of “service to God and country”. We hope that the Primate, together with other faith community leaders, will encourage our Canadian government to again recognize the importance of religion for Canada as a nation. Padre Clayton Arkesteyn-Vogler
Pastoral Services Department
George Derby Centre
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It’s about time our church leaders stood up and took the federal government to task concerning the denigration and depletion of our Christian faith in public worship. The church should again take its place in the political arena, and the sooner the better. It is unfortunate that we keep sending men and women to Ottawa under the auspices that they are going to protect our spiritual heritage, only to find out they have their own private agenda.
We desperately need more forward evangelical leadership in the church to address many issues that our politicians are imposing on us through parliament and the supreme court.
Hamilton B. Hutchinson
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Our Primate has appropriately sounded the alarm regarding the connection between culture and faith. I would suggest that such a connection is also required for the health of society itself. I believe that society must have its foundations on some basis other than that of technology or economic concepts. People require a “source” from which to direct and judge their actions. All societies will eventually fail unless founded on a spiritual basis which meets the innermost needs of its people. Alexander Solzhenitsyn wrote about this in a more eloquent manner: “…recognition of the primacy both in theory and practice of spiritual life over the outward forms of society, in the sense that the inner life of the individual … and not the self-sufficing elements of some political order, is the only solid basis for every social structure.”
Our society is losing its sense of the sacred and the experience of inwardness and transcendence. A continuation along this path can only lead to decay and dis-ease. The Primate’s words are a wake-up call for us all.
Rev. Ed Kostyk (Rtd.)
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The greatest example of why religion should not be promoted by any government is what we see in the United States. God’s name is mentioned on every occasion to justify the “war” ongoing in Afghanistan where 1) any civilian killed is treated like road kill; 2) an American soldier killed, whether by friendly fire or otherwise, is instantly headline news.
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As an Anglican in the United States and someone who has worked at Ground Zero, I am dismayed by the attitude of the Canadian govenment. The men and women affected by Sept. 11 are so grateful for prayers and the many Canadian Christians who have made the pilgrimage to New York. Maybe the members of Parliment need to go to New York and feel the need before condeming the use of Christian prayers. Christine Smith
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I am really concerned that in being politically correct, none of us are able to feel comfortable. The prime examples that have concerned me were the service after the Swissair crash, the post-Sept. 11 service on Parliament Hill, and the recent instructions to chaplains not to use the name of our Saviour. What next?
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We are a country that embraces all legal citizens and immigrants who want to live here. Their rich cultures and their valuable abilities and talents are gifts to our nation. Freedom to practice their faith is one of Canada’s gifts and privileges to them. Our country’s legal system is based on democracy and our Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees freedom of conscience and religion to all citizens of Canada. Our founding fathers, less than 150 years ago, recognized that Canada was built on the faith of those who came to this shore. It was very clear to them that our Christian God and religion was the founding faith for this country. That is where the bar was set. God’s word is very clear as to his position when we invite other gods to take his place or for nations to ignore Him.
May God reveal to the hearts, minds and spirits of the leaders of our government that they are walking a dangerous line when advising their representatives at official gatherings to ignore the faith of our country. As other countries embrace religions of their choice, the national choice, taken many years ago, was that this is a Christian country and our religion is the core of our being Canadians.
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Those who advise governments are on a course to suppress anything which might cause offence. An inclusive society in my view does not mean suppression, but recognition and appreciation of differences. Religion is a thread which binds the vast majority of Canadians. In times of stress and celebration, it is necessary to have a focal point and a means of expression of strong emotions. In future, I would suggest that the next time the government wants to put on a secular function – modelled on old Soviet Russian lines – the churches should, with other faiths as appropriate, refuse to take God out of their texts, and hold their own event if necessary. A bit of civil disobedience in defence of faith might not be a bad idea.
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I have always believed that the Anglican church in Canada has more freedom than it does anywhere else in the New World. As a lifelong Anglican, that is what makes Canada the Promised Land. If Canada moves towards less Anglicanism in society then it will be no better than the United States, a place where being Anglican and First Nations at the same time (and French-speaking on top of that) makes life a living hell. Pamela E.Kennedy
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Hooray! Finally someone is saying publicly what so many of have felt not just about the post-Sept. 11 service but also the issue of chaplains in the Armed Forces and the Swiss Air memorial service. To deny a spiritual aspect to our public life is to do a disservice to all faiths, not just Christianity. Surely inclusion of leaders of all faiths in memorial services such as was done at the Washington Cathedral and the service in London makes the meaning more sigificant for everyone. Thank you to the Primate for speaking out. Wynne Nicholson
St. Catharines, Ont.
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It’s about time that the church spoke out against this insidious secularization of Canadian society which seems to be government supported. Why the government pursues this remains a mystery, particularly when one considers that the majority of immigrants to Canada are more or less religious people (witness the proliferation of mosques and Sikh temples), so accomodating them by eliminating organized religion doesn’t seem sensible. One can only hope that more Anglican and other Christian clergy will continue to speak out loudly, and frequently, in the same vein.
Timothy M. Cox
Coral Spring, Fla.
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I think the place of religion in Canadian society is in a sorry state, but not just because the memorial service in Ottawa after Sept. 11th omitted any “prayerful interfaith response.” I think that is a symptom of a much deeper malaise in the government, in society and in the churches. I sense the church is struggling just to keep its head above water. It seems to have lost its inner vitality and with that its relevance to society. On the other hand, there is hope in the fact that a definite spiritual hunger exists among thoughtful Christian people across this country. These people are struggling with important questions within their church communities, including ‘Where is Christ in the midst of this tragedy, not just after the fact, but before and during its unfolding?’
To rule out Christ’s involvement is to deny his presence in the lives of all who died, all who loved them, all who watched in horror, and even in the actions of the terrorists. There must have been a deep religious conviction on the part of the terrorists that what they were doing was worth dying for. This kind of religious conviction in its destructiveness requires a a direct religious response.
The church has the potential to become the container within which these difficult, even dangerous, ideas, questions and feelings can be opened up and examined in the light of trust ≠ the trust in one’s faith and the faith of others who share in a religious tradition firmly based in Scripture and challenging theological discussion.
I am glad the Primate has spoken out in our nation’s capital, but I don’t think he went far enough in his thinking. And, certain questions remain: how can people of faith make an impact on our society? and how can the church regain, or create anew, its role in providing moral leadership. It seems now, it’s not even in the debate.
The Anglican Centre for Theological Dialogue
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I am surprised that we are surprised at the totally secular nature of the memorial service in Ottawa. We live in a society where the mention of God in prayer or refelction has been absent for many years in our school assemblies and programs. My children and their peers are used to having public gatherings in which there is no prayer or reading from religious books. Prayer is excluded from most public meetings so why be surprised that it is absent from a government organized memorial service? Maybe a few sermons about the effects of Canadian-style secularism 20 years ago could have helped. We seem, however, to learn only from experience. Our next learning experience will come when we see most of our churches closed and turned in condominiums. Future generations will look at them and ask their grandparents, “What were churches for?”
Don R. Skowronski
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I most certainly agree with the Primate on this issue. I commend the Primate for having the courage to speak out on this. Thomas Moulton
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