What role should government play in regards to religion?
Answer: Canada’s motto,
“A Mari usque ad Mare,” Latin for “From sea to sea,” is taken from
Psalm 72:8, “He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the
river unto the ends of the earth”. The founders of our country were
God-conscious individuals, whether they were Canada’s political leaders
or the vast multitudes that settled this favoured land. The preamble to
the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1982) refers to “God,” and
Queen Elizabeth II, our official monarch, still carries the ancient
title of “Defender of the Faith.”
While we can safely assume that Canada’s founders, and the subsequent
generations leading into the post Second World War years, were
religiously disposed, we are today facing a different situation. While
the numbers are disputed, an Ipsos Reid poll released on Sept. 12,
2011, reported that only 57 per cent of Canadians say they believe in
God. This number may be contrasted with the 2001 census that reported
that 77 per cent of Canadians claimed adherence to Christianity
(adherence does not necessarily mean practice). While the secular
effect is the current trend, interest in religion and spirituality
nonetheless persists, and it is likely to increase as the world order
continues to disintegrate rapidly. Stay tuned for a spiritual revival.
Canada has no state religion. Over the past, say, 50 years, waves of
immigration from non-Christian countries have altered the face of our
religious landscape. Pluralism (respect for religious differences and
freedom of religion) has become part of the political and religious
culture of Canada and a virtual norm.
In light of this situation, t The Canadian government must continue to
preserve its theistic tradition against a gnawing, materialistic
secularism, and defend freedom of conscience and worship — in any land
— including the right to change one’s religion. For these values should
not be viewed as Canadian values only, but universal ones.
The government should, while honouring and maintaining its
Judeo-Christians origins, ensure that a religiously pluralistic society
has a large place in Canadian society.
This respect for religious diversity, with its underlying common belief
in God, and moral and spiritual values, will serve as antidote to
religious bigotry and fanaticism, which are a blight on any society. -