Saturday, March 19, 2016

FLASHBACK: From Christian Virtues To Judicial Values

It is time to remember.

I said in a recent posting that euthanasia in Canada has been roaring down the tracks for a long time, despite what some Catholic Bishops would have us believe.

In November 1998 Ian Hunter delivered an extraordinary and prophetic address dealing with the subject of God and Caesar in the Canadian context.

I only wish that Catholic Bishops in Canada had held to the distinctly Christian view that Protestant Ian Hunter espouses in regard to the political landscape. After all, his views are more Catholic than not. There is no suggestion that Bishops get directly involved in politics, only that they take seriously and teach faithfully the entire Deposit of Faith, e.g. Humanae Vitae, Confession, Mortal Sin, Discipline of Public Sinners, Scandal, Sacrilege, Common Good, including their responsibilities under Canon Law. Fidelity to the entire Deposit of Faith is required to properly form consciences of Catholics and help them to live holy lives (in private and in the public realm) so they "get their souls into heaven," an expression you will rarely hear these days from the lips of Priests or Bishops.

It is precisely because most, if not all, Catholic Bishops in Canada are neglectful of many articles of the Deposit of Faith that we have experienced the rise of a pseudo-catholic culture in our nation and the leavening effects of evil, one of which is euthanasia. Such evils will continue unabated without the countervailing effect of authentic Catholic thought and witness.


Supreme Court Usurps Parliament
by Ian Hunter

Catholic Insight March 1999


Intro: Canada's Charter of Rights has forever altered the system of government in Canada: it has led to judicial activism and an emasculated Parliament, and has set Canada on the road to totalitarianism. An overly bleak picture, you say? No, a realistic assessment, according to Dr. Ian Hunter, professor emeritus of law from the University of Western Ontario, and author of The Three Faces of Law: A Christian Perspective (reviewed in CI, Oct. '96). In a superb address delivered November for the 1998 George Goth Memorial Lecture in London, Prof. Hunter examines the effect of the Charter on Canada's democracy (a subject touched upon in a stinging critique of Supreme Court Justice Antonio Lamer by Edward McBride, CI, Sept. '98). The George Goth Memorial Lectures, begun in 1991, are named in honour of a well-known London intellectual and pastor at London's Metropolitan United Church for nearly 40 years. Dr. Hunter's address, dedicated to "the glory of God", to George Goth, and to a recently deceased personal friend John Hoover, is printed below.

You have conferred an honour upon me by your invitation to deliver the 1998 George Goth Memorial lecture; I want you to know that I am very grateful. My topic is: From Christian Virtues to Judicial Values.

Now, the topic I have chosen is a sobering one with far-reaching consequences, because underlying everything I shall say tonight is a fundamental question: "Is Canada any longer a democracy?" By "democracy" I mean no more and no less than the Oxford English Dictionary definition: "A State practising government by the people, direct or representative". If Canada cannot accurately be so described, and since 1982 I shall contend that it is doubtful that it can be, what are the duties and responsibilities of Christians in Canada? That is the final question I shall reach.

But first one must ask: How can such a question even arise? Prior to April 17, 1982, such a question could not legitimately be raised. From Confederation until 1982 Canada had a system of representative government, with a sovereign parliament freely and democratically elected. That is not to say that Canada was always governed well; sometimes she was governed well, sometimes ill, but always she was governed by the elected representatives of the people. Issues of public policy were determined by legislators who, at least quadrennially, were required to account for their policies to the electorate who had voted them into office.

Our parliamentary system, our Constitution, which the B.N.A. Act unashamedly described as "similar in principle to that of the United Kingdom", and our common law, all derived from the "mother of parliaments" at Westminster. In that parliamentary system were three branches of government--legislative, executive and judicial--and each branch had separate and defined duties and responsibilities. One branch was not to usurp the prerogatives of another branch.

Charter of Rights

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms, a by-product of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau's 1982 patriation package, fundamentally changed 115 years of Canadian constitutional history. Essentially, the Charter meant a shift from a system of parliamentary supremacy to one of constitutional supremacy. Since April 17, 1982, it is the Charter of Rights, not parliament, which is sovereign, "the supreme law of the land", to use the language of section 52 of the Constitution Act. The Canadian electorate still goes to the polls quadrennially, but it is now judges, not legislators, who decide such important issues of public policy as abortion, euthanasia, and even the legitimacy of Quebec secession.

To put my point bluntly: in 1982 Canada ceased to be governed by parliamentary supremacy and instead became a country of constitutional supremacy. Well, constitutional supremacy sounds fine; what's wrong with that? What's wrong is that constitutions are not self-interpreting. They require to be interpreted. The interpretation function falls to an unelected judiciary, finally to the nine judges of the Supreme Court of Canada. These judges have now had a decade and a half to interpret the Charter. What has happened?

What has happened is that the judiciary has moved from being the least powerful branch of government to, arguably, the most powerful. Decision-making by the courts is the antithesis of democracy. The court is unelected, nine appointed men and women, all drawn from the same profession, milieu, and background, accountable to no one, and enjoying security of tenure until age seventy-five.

Human Rights Commission

The ideology which spawned the Charter of Rights also gave us provincial and federal human rights commissions. These Commissions, and their puppet tribunals, pose a graver threat to the rule of law than Chief Justice Lord Hewart imagined when, back in the 1930s, he wrote his famous treatise, The New Despotism.

Under the aegis of such tribunals, Canada has become a country where citizens are jailed for their beliefs (cf. Canada Human Rights Commission v. John Ross Taylor, where Professor Phillippe Rushton was threatened with dismissal and subjected to the modern equivalent of the Spanish Inquisition because his research ran counter to politically correct orthodoxy; and where the duly elected Mayor of London was ordered to issue a civic proclamation which ran counter to her own religious beliefs).

The latest decision of the Canadian Human Rights Commission in July 1998 may prove to be a watershed; it has been estimated that to implement the pay equity ruling will cost taxpayers approximately 5 billion dollars--$1,500 on average per family. Will Canada bankrupt itself to satiate a worn-out ideological imperative? We must wait and see. My guess is that it will.

When we turn to the pronouncements of our highest court, the Supreme Court of Canada, we discover that since the Charter their judgements have, in many cases, ceased to be law, and have become instead a random collection of the judges' personal and ideological predilections. The feminist wing of the court, when led by Madame Justice Bertha Wilson, developed an explicit ideology: judges who did not defer to it were simply told to butt out.

In her judgement in Regina v. Morgentaler, Judge Wilson wondered if men were capable of understanding abortion, or even qualified to express any opinion on the issue.

In Regina v. Lavallee, she changed the law on self-defence to allow a woman to kill an abusive spouse because otherwise jurors might ask the awkward question, which she called "a myth", namely if the battered woman is dissatisfied at home why doesn't she leave home?

And while on the topic of myths, Madam Justice L'HeureuxDube in Regina v. Seaboyer and Gayme denounced what she called "the stereotypical myth" that men who rape women are not normal men. The corollary, which we are asked to accept as judicial truth, is one of the favourite lies of feminism, namely that all men are actual or potential rapists.

Now judicial hubris is not a uniquely Canadian phenomenon. Robert H. Bork, former Appeal Court Justice and Supreme Court nominee in the United States, raised similar issues in his book Slouching Toward Gomorrah. After discussing several similar U.S. cases, Justice Bork wrote: "Our country is being radically altered, step by step, by Justices who are not following any law." And Mr. Justice Scalia, a sitting member of the U.S. Supreme Court, recently wrote: "What secret knowledge, one must wonder, is breathed into lawyers when they become justices of this Court. Day by day, case by case, [the Court] is busy designing a constitution for a country I do not recognise."

I have called this lecture: From Christian Virtues to Judicial Values. Now let me define my terms.


For two thousand years philosophers have measured societies and individuals by the yardstick of virtue. Plato and Aristotle talked of four cardinal, or foundational, virtues: justice (or rectitude), wisdom, courage (or fortitude) and moderation (or self-control). But what are the Christian virtues? Well, I count ten separate places in the New Testament where we are given a list of Christian virtues. Best known, perhaps, is Galatians 5: 22 where St. Paul enumerates: "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, fidelity, gentleness, self-control". To this list could be added "truth and innocence" (2 Corinthians 6:6); "humility and charity" (Ephesians 4:2); "compassion" (Colossians 3:12); "purity, justice, piety" (1 Timothy 4:12); "integrity" (2 Timothy 2:22); and "fortitude under persecution" (2 Timothy 3:11).

Let me, then, repeat these Christian virtues in a comprehensive list-- by my count nineteen Christian virtues specifically cited in the New Testament: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, fidelity, gentleness, self-control, truth, innocence, humility, charity, compassion, purity, justice, piety, integrity, and fortitude under persecution.

Now when I examine the decisions of Canadian Courts, particularly Charter decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada, here is what strikes me: I would not expect the list of what the Court calls "judicial values" to be identical to the list of "Christian virtues" which I have just enumerated; but I would anticipate substantial overlap. If I gave any two people in this audience a slip of paper and a pencil and told each to go off and write down a list of virtues, I would not expect the two lists produced to be identical. But I would expect substantial overlap; perhaps 5 or 7 of the virtues to be the same. Now here is the interesting thing: except for "justice", a word used by the courts in a sense very different from the biblical usage, where it really means "righteousness", there is no overlap between Christian virtues and what the Canadian Courts have identified as Charter values. This is the more remarkable when we remember that Canadian common law was shaped by Judeo-Christian precepts.

What then are the "judicial values" which Canadian Courts have articulated? Again I have made a summary list, mostly drawn from Supreme Court decisions: "human flourishing; individual self-fulfilment, privacy, respect for human dignity, diversity, multiculturalism; self-expression, freedom, autonomy, enhancing participation in society, tolerance". But trumping all else, according to our Courts, is "Equality".

Ronald Dworkin has called our stage of liberal democracy "law's empire", and judges are its emperors. If this be so, these emperors know nothing of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It is to the great god Equality that all Canadians must bend the knee. Unlike the Christian virtues which point to an objective reality, one attribute of God, the judicial values envisage man as the ultimate measure of all things; the common element of the judicial values is narcissism. Put simply, the Christian virtues exemplify a spiritual view of life; the judicial values exemplify a secular view of life.

The transition from the language of virtues to the language of "values" has infected even the churches. Although it makes my flesh crawl to hear it, one often hears ministers talk of Christian "values". But "values" is a weasel word, a corrupting word for a corrupt society. Values exist only if there is someone to value them; they are self-dependent, self-referential. Virtues exist because they are attributes of God; they are not dependent upon our existence. We did not create them. Virtues are inherently meritorious whether the speaker acknowledges them or not, whether fifty percent plus one vote for them or not. Virtues are what we are, what we do; your virtue is your character. It does not depend upon what you say you value, but what you are and do.

The challenge is greater if we speak of virtues rather than values. Virtues are not boy-scout pledges or spiritual bromides. They are simple, they are uncompromising, they demand the highest of us. When Allan Rock talks about Canadian "values," he means being nice to minorities, embracing multiculturalism, not telling jokes which women may find offensive. When the Bible talks about virtues, it talks about the soul of a man, what he is when all pretence and all humbug is stripped away.

I am currently reviewing for Christian Week a new book by David Aikman, former senior foreign correspondent for Time magazine. The book is called Great Souls: Six Who Changed the Twentieth Century. Aikman explains that when he set out to discover which men and women had had the most profound impact in the last half of the twentieth century, he was astonished to conclude that the overriding quality which marked each of his subjects as exceptional was a particular virtue. He identified each of his subjects with that one overriding virtue which had been for him or her a lifelong preoccupation. Here are Aikman's subjects and the virtue he identifies with each:

Billy Graham--Salvation; Nelson Mandela--Forgiveness; Alexander Solzhenitsyn--Truth: Mother Teresa--Compassion; Pope John Paul II--Human dignity; Elie Wiesel-Remembrance.

Aikman writes that each of his subjects has exemplified that virtue so faithfully that "its importance [for the entire human race] is likely to resonate not just into the next millennium, but for as long as the human race continues to survive and keep records of its history."

Let me turn now to one or two illustrative Charter cases. The Charter of Rights to date has had its most profound impact in criminal law.

Perverse rulings: case one

A man named Wesley Evans confessed to two particularly sadistic murders of women in Vancouver; he had cut their throats. He told the police that he was frustrated by women, that he had enjoyed doing it, and would like to do it again.

Now Wesley Evans has a low I.Q., about 60.

The Vancouver police, when they arrested Wesley Evans, had advised him of his right to counsel prior to questioning him. But the Supreme Court was concerned that because of his limited I.Q. he may not have understood.

The Court found this a violation of Evans' Charter Rights (section 10(b)); now what to do? Section 24(2) says to exclude the evidence if its admission would bring the administration of justice into disrepute.

In the B.C. Court of Appeal, Madam Justice Southin wrote: "If there be anything more likely by every rational community standard to bring the administration of justice into disrepute than letting this accused, a self-confessed killer, go free to kill again on the basis of an infringement of the Charter Right to counsel, I do not know what it is."

But the Supreme Court of Canada did not agree. By a unanimous (5-0) vote, they acquitted Wesley Evans and returned him to the streets of Vancouver.

Case two

A man named John Randall Borden brutally raped a sixty-nine-year-old woman in a senior citizens' home in Nova Scotia. I can say that without fear of contradiction, beyond not just the "reasonable doubt" required for criminal conviction, but beyond any scientific doubt, because of DNA testing of semen samples which proved (to a probability factor of many millions to one) that Borden was the rapist. Borden, however, was not arrested for this brutal rape, but for another sexual assault, this time on an exotic dancer in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. When the police asked Borden for hair samples for DNA testing, they were investigating the assault on the exotic dancer, and Borden consented. Later, when police began to suspect Borden in the rape of the elderly woman, and they compared the DNA results; sure enough, Borden was the rapist.

The Nova Scotia Court of Appeal held that the DNA evidence, gathered for the purpose of one investigation, could not be looked at by the police for the purposes of another investigation. The dissenting Judge, J.A. Freeman, wrote:

"The [justice] system is [here] made to appear to be incapable of convicting a person shown to be guilty of a serious violent crime by highly reliable evidence."

The Crown appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada. In October, 1994 the Supreme Court unanimously (7 - 0) held that the D.N.A. evidence was inadmissible. Borden's consent was not "valid" because he did not realize the police might use the evidence in another investigation. Borden was acquitted.

What's wrong with the Charter?

Why has judicial interpretation of the Charter proved so perverse? Let me suggest three answers to this question.

1. First, a Charter of Rights wrongly conceives the problem. Since John Stuart Mill's essay On Liberty we have come to conceive of liberty in individualistic terms, a view the Canadian Charter embodies. The individual needs protection against the tyranny of the majority, and so we enact a Charter of Rights to achieve that.

But the claim to individual liberty very often masks harm to the collectivity; we are not just atomised individuals, we are also members of a community, citizens of a society. The individual's claim to liberty, albeit expressed in the high-minded rhetoric of rights, often conceals selfish, sometimes perverse, interests. The lone, brave individual standing his ground against the menacing, omnipotent State was John Stuart Mill's archetype and it is powerful mythology; the sadistic criminal going free, and making citizens ever more fearful in their own homes, is the common reality.

2. A second reason why the Charter is pernicious is that it forestalls true political debate. The appropriate level of restraint on individual liberties is, or should be, a fundamental political question. But in Canada such debate does not occur: it is reduced to one person claiming, "I have a right to-- abortion on demand, assisted suicide, same sex benefits..." (you fill in the blanks), to which the only response is either acquiescence, or "No, you don't". Ultimately all such issues are now resolved by Courts. Such a puerile approach to deep philosophic questions is consistent with what I often think to be the governing dynamic of life in Canada--the principle of infantile regression--but it does immeasurable harm to the possibility of mature political discourse. It also inflates judicial hubris.

3. Finally, I suggest to you that the Charter fundamentally misconceives the problem. I do not believe that our liberties are threatened by devils in Ottawa, or by pigs in police uniforms, not very often by tyrannous majorities. The problem is within ourselves, whether each of us can discern and live by an appropriate balance between freedom and restraint, between liberty and licence, between indulgence and self-discipline.

You remember Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the noblest man of our century. The lesson Solzhenitsyn learned in the freezing darkness of the labour camps of the Gulag Archipelago was that the line between good and evil ran not between nations, not between States, not even between ideologies, but right down the centre of each and every human heart. So, too, does the line between rights and responsibilities. The Charter is just the most recent Utopian attempt, in a long, futile and mostly sordid history of such attempts, to legislate what cannot be legislated. Hugh Kingsmill expressed my point admirably in the introduction to his neglected masterpiece, The Poisoned Crown:
What is divine in man is elusive and impalpable, and he is easily tempted to embody it in a collective form - a church, a country, a social system, a leader, [a Charter], so that he may realize it with less effort and serve it with more profit. Yet ... the attempt to externalize the Kingdom of Heaven in a temporal form must end in disaster. It cannot be created by charters or constitutions, nor established by arms. Those who set out for it alone will reach it together and those who seek it in company will perish by themselves.
Impact on Christians

I expect that many of you will agree with me that the Supreme Court decisions I have mentioned are pernicious, and that each had a deleterious effect on Canadian society. But none was especially pernicious, or had any differential impact, on Christians. Alas, the same cannot be said of the Supreme Court's decisions in Morgentaler (1988), Borowski (1989), Daigle (1989), Rodriguez (1994) and Vriend (1998). These decisions all treat directly of issues -- abortion, euthanasia, homosexuality - upon which Christians, by their profession of faith, cannot be neutral.

Christians owe allegiance to Caesar, but we have it on the authority of our Lord himself, that we owe dual allegiance: to Caesar, yes, but more important, to God. Christians have dual citizenship; we belong to the city of man but also to St. Augustine's City of God. So John begins the first chapter of the book of Revelation by describing himself as "in the island that is called Patmos and in the kingdom of Jesus Christ" (Revelation 1:9). When it comes to issues like abortion and euthanasia, Christians cannot escape their dual citizenship: we are of the country that is called Canada, but of the kingdom that is called Christ.

In the Rodriguez case in 1994 the Supreme Court of Canada came within one vote of creating an unregulated right to physician-assisted suicide. The secular wasteland in which the Supreme Court of Canada struggles to articulate "judicial values" is perfectly captured by these words of our Chief Justice, Antonio Lamer:
Can the right to choose at issue here, that is the right to choose suicide, be described as an advantage of which the appellant is being deprived? In my opinion, the Court should answer this question without reference to the philosophical and theological considerations fuelling the debate on the morality of suicide or euthanasia. It should consider the question before it from a legal perspective ... while keeping in mind that the Charter has established the essentially secular nature of Canadian society.
Ladies and Gentlemen, it is difficult not to shudder when one contemplates what a trivial conception of human life our judges have. No God, no soul, no good and evil, no right or wrong, just consumers making choices, including the choice to take one's own life. "No man is an island entire of himself", wrote the poet John Donne, "Any man's death diminishes me because I am involved in mankind". Our judges are not involved in mankind, they are involved in vapid rights rhetoric.

New conflicts

There are several specific areas where Christian virtues come into increasing conflict with current judicial values. Let me enumerate some of them.

Judicial equation of homosexuality and heterosexuality.
Speaking in a United Church I need not point out the sensitivities on both sides of this issue, nor its potential for divisiveness.

If the Vriend decision has not already done so, it is safe to predict that Canadian law will soon equate homosexuality and heterosexuality. Christians will then have to come to terms with the issue. What do the scriptures say? What does Canadian law say? If these are in conflict, what will be the response of a church, a religious school, or a day-care centre, for example, to the homosexual who challenges a decision not to employ him?

Parental religious instruction of children.
There are recent cases where, following a divorce, the Courts have prohibited one parent from exposing the child to his or her religious beliefs -- or even taking the child to church with him -- ostensibly because it might "confuse" the child.

The Courts' view of religion appears increasingly to be this: you may hold whatever beliefs you wish, so long as you do not proclaim them.

Indeed given the depth of the court's commitment to the proposition that Canada is now a secular society, and that religion is a personal, often idiosyncratic, aberration; and given that many opinion-makers today would go further and say that religious belief is itself a sign of neurosis or underlying personality disorder, the day may be close at hand when parents will be precluded, ostensibly for the best interests of the child, from exposing their children to any religious belief.

Our time left is short, so let me just itemise other areas of conflict:

Religious observance and instruction in public schools

The rights of denominational schools

Christian home-schooling, which is under simultaneous attack from provincial governments and from the courts;
Whatever vestige of Sunday observance legislation survives in a society where Wal-Mart is now God
Tax exemptions for church property
Charitable status for Christian organisations. Already Revenue Canada has refused Human Life International charitable status because of that organisation's pro-life advocacy;

Legislation prohibiting picketing at or near abortion clinics. In Canada we already have a prisoner of conscience, a grandmother named Linda Gibbons, because of this invidious legislation brought in by former Attorney-General Marion Boyd;
Class action lawsuits against denominations; for example, a class action suit was brought within the last month which seeks 1.2 billion dollars in damages against the Anglican Church of Canada on behalf of alleged victims of sexual abuse at a residential school near Brantford. Such lawsuits are often a combination of revisionist history combined with recovered, or false, memory syndrome. Denominations which are eager to issue apologies in advance of proof may find themselves facing bankruptcy -- yet this caution does not seem to have inhibited the flood of anticipatory apologies from church headquarters.

It is important that we consider all of these issues free from the wrong notions that many Canadian Christians still hold about law and government; such as the myth that Canada is a Christian country; or the notion that churches enjoy some special immunity or protection in law; or that churches can set their own ecclesiastical rules free from state or judicial interference. Such dangerous myths have often embroiled churches in divisive, costly, and ultimately unsuccessful litigation.

What lessons can we learn?

Having considered the Charter's deleterious effect on Canadian law, and having enumerated some flashpoint issues which should be of special concern to Christians, what lessons should we learn?

Advisedly, I use the word "lessons", not conclusions. What I am now about to say is so far-reaching in its consequences, raises such profound moral and political issues, that I do not want to be misunderstood. I am asking genuine questions; I am not advocating positions. I raise four questions. It is right that Canadian Christians should ask these questions. It would be wrong for us to be cavalier or dogmatic about the right answers. Here are my four questions:
  1. My opening question: Is Canada, circa 1998, in any meaningful sense of the word, a democracy?
  2. Have we reached, or are we in danger of reaching, a point where conscientious Christians will no longer find themselves able to give tacit consent to the existing governance?
  3. If the Courts continue to insist upon a secular interpretation of Canadian law, one divorced from our Judeo-Christian heritage, what is an appropriate Christian response?
  4. If the state demands, either directly or indirectly (e.g. through taxation to finance abortions), what the law of God forbids, can the faithful Christian comply?
Well, I have posed my four questions. I do not have answers. But, in closing, I have some thoughts we might reflect on as we try to think about answers.

First, I wish to express my agreement with Charles Colson who recently wrote: "Given the demonstrated animus of the current judicial regime against believers--a showdown between Church and State may be inevitable. This is not something for which Christians should hope. But it is something for which Christians need to prepare."

I submit that any approach which offers some remediatory promise, short of individual acts of Christian civil disobedience, should be considered and tested. Having said that, I believe that Christian civil disobedience is countenanced in some cases; Pope John Paul II, writing in the encyclical Evangelium vitae, said:
Abortion and euthanasia are crimes which no human law can claim to legitimatise. There is no obligation in conscience to obey such laws; instead there is a grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection" (Section 133).
When that holy and righteous man, John Paul 11, speaks from St. Peter's chair in Rome, and mandates Christian disobedience to law in certain areas, it behooves all Christians -- of whatever denomination -- to listen attentively.

In Canada we have one advantage over the United States in that our Charter includes section 33, the so-called "notwithstanding" clause. This section says that the Parliament of Canada, or any provincial legislature, may override specified sections of the Charter, if that government is prepared to take the political heat involved in doing so. To date the only government which has consistently demonstrated the political courage to invoke section 33 has been the government of Quebec. The Klein government in Alberta promised to invoke s. 33 prior to the Vriend decision, but backed down almost the moment the Supreme Court decision was released. But in theory, if not in practise, section 33 provides a mechanism for re-asserting the popular will in the face of judicial oligarchy.

Another step, again one suggested by Charles Colson, is that the Christian church "separate herself and declare her independence, disavowing any moral legitimacy indirectly or unofficially provided for the state in the past. Through its teaching and preaching office the church would need to expose the nature of the state's rebellion against God--in effect, bringing the state under the transcendent judgement of God."

I am not sure just how this might be accomplished. Will the desiccated Protestant mainline churches be willing to risk the most feared accusation of our time--that of being "intolerant", or "conservative", or "judgmental"--in order to state clearly and without equivocation the precepts of orthodox, scriptural Christianity? And will individual churches, their ministers and their congregations, be willing to risk their tax-exempt status by taking a public stand against what is happening in Canada? I doubt it, but I live in hope that with God all things are possible.

At the end of his influential book After Virtue, Oxford philosopher Alasdair Maclntyre points out that there came a day in the history of the Roman Empire when it lost the allegiance of its ordinary citizens; Maclntyre writes:
Men and women of good will turned aside from the task of shoring up the Roman imperium and ceased to identify the continuation of civility and moral community with that imperium. 
At minimum, I am suggesting that we are at that point among conscientious Christians today. If that is correct then we need to take to heart what the apostle Paul told the church at Philippi: to be "in no way intimidated by your opponents". We need to take that counsel to heart.

Last on my list--but first in importance--we must pray. Pray that we will have the wisdom to discern what is happening to our country and the courage to know how to respond to it. Pray as if our lives, and our children's lives, depended on it. For the truth is, that they do.

Ladies and Gentlemen, that is where I had planned to end. But, just the other day, I was again leafing through one of the formative books in my life--C. S. Lewis's Mere Christianity--when I came across this short passage; this is the centenary of Lewis' birth, and next week is the 35th anniversary of his death, so I should like to conclude with these words of C. S. Lewis:
Enemy-occupied territory--that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage.

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