No faith in the left

National Post (National Edition) - - Front Page - MATT GUR­NEY

Con­ser­va­tive leader An­drew Scheer has of­fered a very le­gal­is­tic re­sponse when ac­cused of hav­ing a hid­den agenda on abortion and gay rights — he sim­ply in­sists that he will not open those is­sues, be­cause they are set­tled in Cana­dian law.

I be­lieve him. I don’t see any value in the Con­ser­va­tives re­open­ing these is­sues, and I see lots of po­ten­tial dan­gers if they do. I don’t have to trust the Con­ser­va­tive leader to agree with me on moral is­sues, I just need to have faith that he’ll act in his own elec­toral self-in­ter­est.

Be­sides, hav­ing seen Green party leader El­iz­a­beth May at­tempt to talk about her re­li­gious gious fa faith this week, I’m not sure Scheer will be in an any hurry to do the same, es­pe­cially with an elect elec­tion cam­paign now un­der way.

May was giv­ing an in­ter­view to the CBC’s Vass Vassy Kape­los. Kape­los asked the Green lead leader who her per­sonal hero was. May an an­swered, with­out hes­i­ta­tion, “Je­sus Ch Christ.” And then she apol­o­gized, and s said she had an­swered with­out both­er­ing e to self-edit.

Kape­los ob­vi­ously had fol­low-up ques­tions, in­clud­ing why May felt that she had to apol­o­gize for her re­li­gious faith.

May bizarrely an­swered that it was be­cause the Green party was a tol­er­ant and di­verse place — “in­clu­sive and all-em­brac­ing” — were her ex­act words. Shouldn’t that make it eas­ier for the leader to dis­cuss her own sin­cerely held moral po­si­tions?

This en­tire cam­paign thus far has been in­fused with the back­ground is­sue of re­li­gious tol­er­ance in Cana­dian so­ci­ety. In­deed, I note with in­ter­est that it was just a few days ago that May was mak­ing the point that her party was wel­com­ing of re­li­gious di­ver­sity and would not tol­er­ate dis­crim­i­na­tion, this af­ter some NDP de­fec­tors to the Greens were re­ported to have con­cerns with the electabil­ity of Jag­meet Singh, a Sikh, be­cause of his re­li­gion.

I won­der if May was re­veal­ing some­thing deeper when she went out of her way to stress that Singh’s re­li­gious be­liefs should not be a mat­ter of con­cern for any mem­ber of her party, while also feel­ing an obli­ga­tion to apol­o­gize for her Chris­tian faith.

I am not a re­li­gious per­son. I was not raised in a re­li­gious house­hold. I’m also not an athe­ist. Though I be­long to no church and do not reg­u­larly at­tend ser­vices, from time to time, and prob­a­bly not as of­ten as I should, I do like to of­fer a prayer of thanks for the many bless­ings I have known in my life, and to ask for the pro­tec­tion and con­tin­ued well be­ing of those that I love. I don’t know if this would meet any­one’s def­i­ni­tion of re­li­giously ob­ser­vant. But it’s some­thing I do and have taken com­fort from — and also hu­mil­ity.

In this, I am a pretty typ­i­cal Cana­dian. Pew Re­search crunched the num­bers on re­li­gious faith in Canada just a few months ago. Canada is, ob­vi­ously, less ob­ser­vant than it once was. But more than half of Cana­di­ans still say that re­li­gious faith is still at least some­what im­por­tant in their lives, and more than half the coun­try iden­ti­fies as Chris­tian (in some ca­pac­ity). It’s true that the re­li­giously un­af­fil­i­ated are a grow­ing bloc — but still a clear mi­nor­ity. Sim­ply hav­ing a re­li­gious faith, par­tic­u­larly the ma­jor­ity one, ought not to be it­self some­thing May felt a need to self-edit.

It’s fine that Singh is Sikh. It’s fine that May and Scheer (and Justin Trudeau!) are Chris­tian. It ought to be pos­si­ble to de­bate the press­ing so­cial is­sues of the day, or even, for that mat­ter, the notso press­ing so­cial is­sues of the day, with­out need­ing to re­sort to ei­ther sus­pi­cion of some­one else’s re­li­gious faith or apol­o­gize for one’s own.

I un­der­stand that some vot­ers would prob­a­bly place a higher em­pha­sis on a can­di­date’s re­li­gious faith, or lack thereof, than I would. But I have to imag­ine that there are a great many Cana­di­ans who feel ex­actly as I do. The re­li­gious views of all of the party lead­ers in the up­com­ing elec­tion is of ab­so­lutely zero in­ter­est to me. I could not care less.

But I ad­mit that I am cer­tainly in­ter­ested in what the dis­cus­sions about re­li­gion re­veal about the lead­ers. As I noted weeks ago, Scheer needs to come up with a bet­ter an­swer to abortion and gay mar­riage than sim­ply stat­ing he won’t re­open them.

Sim­i­larly, while May’s Chris­tian faith would never make me more or less likely to vote for her, the fact that she felt moved to apol­o­gize for dis­cussing her faith ab­so­lutely sends up red flags.

If she does not see the ab­sur­dity in in­sist­ing that the Green party is too open and tol­er­ant a place for her to ex­press, in pretty mild and un­ob­jec­tion­able terms, that she has faith in the Chris­tian Saviour, I’m not re­ally sure that says any­thing good about ei­ther her, the party she leads or the no­tions of tol­er­ance and in­clu­siv­ity as em­braced by Canada’s po­lit­i­cal left.

Na­tional Post

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Mat­tGur­ney

CHRISTO­PHER KATSAROV / THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Fed­eral Con­ser­va­tive leader An­drew Scheer needs a bet­ter an­swer to abortion and gay mar­riage than stat­ing he won’t re­open them, Matt Gur­ney writes..

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