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“A committed evangelical Christian, William Wilberforce was motivated by a deep conviction that the enslavement of another human being was a sin and an offence against God and mankind. As we know, deep moral convictions do not mean much in a parliament unless we can mobilize resources to push a bill to royal assent.”
These words were spoken in the House of Commons by a Liberal MP this spring.
It is an increasingly rare thing to hear positive words spoken about a person with deeply held Christian beliefs in Parliament or the media. More often, it seems the views of people with religiously informed beliefs are dismissed or denigrated. It is a challenging time to bring biblical principles to bear on policy issues.
At times, we pause and evaluate our efforts, to assess what success looks like.
Sometimes laws are passed that come down on the side we support. Sometimes a law or policy we believe to be important is passed. That’s a day of celebration for us. Even though we are steadfastly committed to the good of the country, we often find ourselves at odds with the majority on certain key issues, such as euthanasia and assisted suicide, pornography or prostitution.
Earlier this year, the EFC’s Centre for Faith and Public Life helped bring a survivor of exploitation, a police officer and other experts to Parliament Hill to talk about Quebec’s successes in addressing sexual exploitation. MPs and senators were able to hear directly from experts about the realities of sexual exploitation in Canada and why deliberate, coordinated action is so important. This event spurred genuine conversation and had an impact. Bridges were built and ideas exchanged – success.
Sometimes success looks like helping to moderate a trend. We recommend changes to mitigate the harms of policies we believe are negative. Sometimes, we hear a phrase quoted from our arguments in a court decision, or we see a footnote from our brief in a committee report. When that happens, we know our views have been heard and influenced the result, even if the outcome isn’t what we hoped.
When the parliamentary justice committee conducted its review of Canada’s prostitution laws, the EFC’s brief was quoted four times in the final report. While the committee did not unequivocally endorse the current prostitution laws, as we recommended, it heard our arguments that vulnerable people may enter prostitution because they lack meaningful choices. This, too, is something to celebrate.
But there is another kind of success. Sometimes a law or court decision runs counter to what we believe is God’s best, and there are serious negative consequences for Canadian society and individuals.
It’s difficult to accept. In those moments, it would be easy to conclude that our efforts – the research, networking, writing, meetings, conversations over coffee, answering questions and submitting briefs – have all been for nothing.
But it is then that we reflect on the nature of our calling. We are called to faithful witness. We are called to be courageous. We are called to speak truth in the public square with humility and respectful engagement.
When we have been faithful in those things, we are successful. And the Judge of who is faithful sees us.
Whether there is a tangible positive outcome, whether our influence has resulted in a “less bad” outcome, or whether we share our faithful witness, with your help, the EFC is working at the intersection of faith and public life.
Join us in a practical, simple act of faithful witness
A law allowing euthanasia for mental illness alone has already passed and will take effect in March 2024. This is an urgent time to act. Please contact your local MP and ask them to stop MAID for mental illness. Follow up with a phone call to the MP’s office to say you’re very concerned. Find your MP’s contact information at ourcommons.ca/members. The EFC strongly supports a new bill that would reverse that change in law. Ask your MP to support Bill C-314 this fall. For more information, see TheEFC.ca/TakeActionOnMAID. Ask your church leadership to participate in this initiative.
Also in this issue: EFC donors help Faith Today excel, A note from EFC President David Guretzki, New research project on digital and social media, Our Common Calling