Entries tagged with “national post”.

A couple of my articles have recently been reprinted in other publications. My National Post article “Disagree with Christians? That’s fine, but do not silence them” recently appeared as a guest editorial in the pages of Mennonite Brethren Herald as “A response to intolerance against Christians” (see it online here). My First Things post “Twitter users force big media to cover abortion doctor’s trial” recently appeared in the commentary section of The Winnipeg Free Press as “Media forced by pro-lifers to cover story” (see it online here).


holy-postSo, it’s a day after people noticed my National Post article “Disagree with Christians? Fine. But do not silence them.” I have to say, I’m surprised it got quite the attention it did. In just one day, 130 comments had been posted on the article, and a couple dozen tweets for and against had flown through Twitter. Meanwhile on Facebook, there were 322 shares and likes of the article, with a fair amount of accompanying conversation. One thing’s for sure: it got people talking. But how fruitful exactly was the resulting conversation?

You’ll recall that my major concern in the article was a growing intolerance in Canada towards religious people (especially Christians). It was pretty clear early on in the day that my concerns were shared by others: “Thank goodness someone finally noticed,” wrote one person on Facebook. “We live in a world where you can be of any faith or no faith, except for Christian.” Another on Twitter wrote that it “seems like [people] nowadays only defend freedom of speech and religion for a select few, while silencing others.” Many Christians seem to feel a growing antipathy towards them.

While some people agreed with my article, many others did not. A number of their comments were insulting, questioning my sanity for believing in “Christian mythology.” But that of course did not mean their comments were bad. Distasteful, perhaps, but not unacceptable. I was arguing in my article on the importance of open discussion, of allowing Christians to speak freely in the public arena. And being given that privilege myself, I also have to respect the freedom of those who disagree with me to speak freely as well. One commenter agreed with another that I was a bit mad. “But we don’t silence him,” that person cautioned, “We just criticize and ridicule him.” Fair enough. The right to insult is also included in the right to freedom of speech. To be sure, I don’t think this is a very helpful sort of rhetoric; it tends to shut down dialogue, not keep it going. But censoring each other in the public realm isn’t the answer either. That’s something I and the commenter both agree on: censorship should be eschewed.

Of course, some commenters confirmed my article’s point by saying openly that they thought religion should be banned—that is to say, censored—from the public forum. “It is reasonable to expect sex as being an activity for consenting adults in the privacy of their bedrooms,” writes one commenter, “and that’s the best for religion too.” Some would indeed like to see Christians (and other religious groups) silenced—to keep their religion at home and not let it show up in the public square. It’s an opinion that I fear is growing, and it is at this type of intolerance my article was aimed: knee jerk, shut ’em up, anti-Christian rhetoric.

As for the actual subject of religious persecution, some commenters don’t seem to think it’s an injustice at all: “People killed for their religion are no more martyrs than soccer fans killed in a riot,” writes one commenter. I find it shocking that the targeted extermination of people solely based on their religion can be so callously disregarded, shrugged off as it were the natural consequence of doing something you knew was dangerous. You played the game, the commenter seems to say, and sometimes people die in that game. Them’s the breaks. Don’t like it? Get out of the game.

But there were also oddball comments on the other side too. One commenter suggested that negative online reaction to the Office for Religious Freedom was done mostly by people who “take a personal delight in the death of Christians.” When asked by another if they specifically meant that the CBC as an organization takes a personal delight in the death of Christians, the first commenter said yes.

Needless to say, that’s a radical departure from what I suggested in my article—and a despicable accusation to boot. I argue that there’s a growing intolerance in Canada to people of faith, and that we see a glimpse of that in the overly negative online reaction to the Office for Religious Freedom. But I’m careful to point out that this is intolerance; it’s not persecution, at least not in the sense that many religious and non-religious people face persecution in other parts of the world. Still, we should resist attempts to silence religious people in Canada, to affirm our right to be part of the public forum. Whatever our faith or non-faith, we live in this country together; we all have the right to discuss openly and freely our opinions on how our shared society should operate. We should feel free to be part of the dialogue.

I was grateful to see at least a little bit of that happening in some of the comments on my article. One religious and one non-religious commenter suggested that, while the online debate was polarized, it might be easier to get along in real life. “If we met, I am sure we would get along fine because we [would] see each other as people first,” writes one.

I hope that type of level-headedness prevails.


holy-postLast week the Canadian Government announced the creation of a new Office for Religious Freedom, an entity devoted to highlighting the rights of those suffering religious persecution internationally. The online reaction to the office has, to put it mildly, been mostly negative. In so doing it highlights a growing Canadian intolerance for the religious and the belief that religion is something best confined inside believers’ homes—that one should not dare to bring it out in the open.

That concern lies behind my recent article for the National Post’s “Holy Post” blog. It’s entitled “Disagree with Christians? That’s fine. But do not silence them.”

Faith, it seems, is now to be understood as a concession made to backwards, backwoods yokels. If you must be religious, then for heaven’s sake do it in the privacy of your own home, where no one else has to see or hear you; religion has no place in the public sphere. Having government step forward to publicly defend religious freedom abroad, therefore, has critics gnashing their teeth.

Even those who have been cautiously optimistic about the office have betrayed a surprising indifference to the plight of persecuted religious minorities. Some pundits have warned against the office spending “too much” attention on Christian issues. To be sure, other groups facing religious persecution — Buddhists, Muslims, Bahai, Sufis, and, yes, atheists — must be just as vigorously defended. But what exactly is so verboten about speaking honestly about the severity of Christian persecution in the world and seeking to redress these wrongs?

I go on to discuss the current level of persecution facing Christians worldwide, before declaring my own faith and explaining that these beliefs “make me who I am” and “inform my decisions and actions in the world.” “Disagree with me?” I pose the question. “That’s fine. But do not silence me. Do not tell me my voice is not allowed in the public forum.” Especially when its raised in support of those who have no voice of their own—those suffering for their faith elsewhere in the world.

Read it all over at the National Post.

Note: There’s an error in the text as it currently stands over at The National Post. It says that Open Doors counts one hundred thousand Christians as suffering persecution. It should read one hundred million.


In Canada we haven’t had much (if any) media coverage of the crisis occuring in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America since its August 2009 vote to approve homosexual relationships and open the clergy to non-celibate homosexuals. But an article of mine published today on the National Post’s religion blog “Holy Post” is intended to fill that gap a bit. It’s admittedly a cursory glance at a very complex issue, but I think I do a fair job of explaining the situation. So go ahead and check out my article (which the Post named and not I) “Lutherans follow Anglicans down rocky road of dissent”. For a reminder just how widespread the fallout over the 2009 vote is, visit my frequently updated (but by no means exhaustive) chronicle of congregational action in the ELCA.

Update – August 30, 2010

Another article of mine, this time a much shorter one on the birth of the North American Lutheran Church, has now been published in LCC InfoDigest (forthcoming also in The Canadian Lutheran): “New Lutheran church body established.” This one focuses a bit more on the Canadian connection.