Letter to the Governor General on Controversial Remarks

06 November 2017

Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette
Governor General of Canada
Rideau Hall
1 Sussex Drive Ottawa, ON  K1A 0A1


On behalf of The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC), I would like to extend our congratulations on your recent appointment to the office of Governor General. We wish you well in your new role and trust that your role in representing the Queen both in Canada and abroad will bring you many opportunities to represent the rich heritage, diversity and freedom our nation enjoys.

The EFC is the national association of evangelical Christians in Canada. Established in 1964, the EFC facilitates collaboration across evangelical churches and institutions, researches church and faith trends, and brings biblical principles to bear in public life. Evangelicals are a significant segment of the Christian population in Canada. It is estimated that about 10 - 12% of Canadians, or 4 million people, are evangelical. 

We were disheartened by your remarks at the Canadian Science Policy gathering in Ottawa, disparaging those who believe the universe has its origin through divine design or intervention. These remarks were deeply hurtful to many Canadians belonging to many religious traditions, including evangelical Christians.

The belief that the universe was created by God is one of the first articles of common belief among Evangelicals and other Christian theological traditions in Canada, as expressed in the historic creeds of Christianity. Moreover, it is confessed among many evangelical Christians working in scientific fields and teaching in science faculties in universities and research institutes. Although Evangelicals do not all agree on the age of the universe or even if God may have used evolutionary processes, they, together with Christians worldwide, nevertheless commonly confess that God is the Creator of Heaven and Earth.

Furthermore, although we do not speak for other religious groups, we are in regular dialogue with many other religious traditions that uphold belief in a divine Creator. These include Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Indigenous peoples and others, all of whom have adherents working in scientific fields and engaging in scientific endeavours.

In a time when Canada is seeking to model a community that welcomes diverse beliefs, religions, cultures and languages, we were disappointed to hear remarks whose content and tone could be understood as exclusionary and belittling.

We invite you to deepen your understanding of Canadians with deeply held religious beliefs, including the experience and engagement of scientists with deeply held religious beliefs. We would welcome the opportunity to call together scientists and faculty members of diverse religious faiths to share with you their perspectives on how their belief in a Creator informs their work as researchers and scientists.

It is our hope that this letter is received in the spirit in which it is intended—as an invitation for deeper understanding.

Yours truly,

Bruce Clemenger
President, The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada