Values, Votes and Media

According to our media reports, it seems Canada is chronically in election campaign mode, especially in our current federal minority government situation. With the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) the race for party leadership intensifies that mood. 

Even the Washington Post ran an opinion piece June 29 by Canadian Youtuber J.J. McCullough entitled “Could a black, conservative, evangelical woman be Canada’s next prime minister?” Responding WaPo readers mostly focused on one word in the title, “evangelical.” Most were Americans. Most vented their disgust against US President Donald Trump and warned Canadian voters not to elect Dr. Leslyn Lewis leader of the CPC, lest she become Prime Minister at our next federal election.

These WaPo readers seemed to echo CBC’s Neil Macdonald’s disgust at US evangelicals’ support of Trump in his November 5, 2019 “Donald Trump, anointed of God — seriously?: Neil Macdonald.” Granted, Trump often offends many Americans and Canadians (including evangelicals). Both Trump and Lewis court evangelicals’ support. Both Trump and Lewis are pro-life, pro-free speech, pro-free enterprise, etc. These values disgust many voters and journalists. Crucial differences between Trump and Lewis include the latter’s very respectful tone in dealing with those who disagree with her, her manifest practice of integrity and her passions for party and national unity.

At least WaPo’s contributing columnist J.J. McCullough has read Lewis’ posted policy proposals. He has had a phone conversation with her. Might we expect the same from Macdonald soon?

Some have noted that every thinking person has a worldview, at least some beliefs concerning human origins, meaning, morality and destiny. Many Americans and Canadians include in their worldviews some religious beliefs; many don’t. For the sake of this discussion let’s call the former group the religious and the latter group the secularists. Of course, the religious embrace a wide variety of beliefs and values, e.g., some believe there is a supreme being, a creator of all things; some don’t. Some believe there is a supremely authoritative revelation of our creator’s will for humans; some don’t. Some Christians believe the Bible is the inspired word of God; some believe the Bible is a collection of ancient myths that may or may not be helpful to us in the 21st Century. The latter group might well be considered functional secularists, even if they do not explicitly embrace some form of atheism, agnosticism or skepticism.

Naturally, every thinking person believes their worldview is right, true, the best; and any who disagree are wrong. Such dissent sometimes leads to vitriol, hate, violence and the rejection of their opponents as stupid, uneducated or even evil. Civilized cultures have learned that responsible citizens must tolerate respectfully all who embrace worldviews other than their own. Justice systems seek to adjudicate disputes as fairly as possible, even if they continue to be as imperfect as are all human institutions. 

For example, since 1988 Canada has had no law concerning abortion. Secularists (even leftist religious people) tend to prefer this and are willing to anathematize anyone who suggests any change here, e.g., Lewis’ proposals to ban sex selective abortions and coerced abortions (both popular with Canadians). Some secularists argue that such proposals guarantee her failure in her pursuit of the CPC leadership, and if she wins that, the CPC defeat at the next federal election. However, these critics seem to fall mute when invited to provide a moral or legal rationale in favour of the sex selective abortions and coerced abortions that have been perfectly legal in Canada the past 26 years. Lewis even recounts the peer pressures she endured from her law school classmates when she got pregnant with her daughter some 20 years ago. 

Already some have appealed to the separation of church and state in their criticisms of Lewis. Some secularists seem to regard this doctrine as a mandate that no “person of faith” should allow any religious beliefs to impact any dimension of their law-making or the administration of justice. 

In a 2013 public meeting of humanists, atheists and agnostics I was struck by the zeal of the regulars to seek strategies to elect more atheists and agnostics to governments at all levels across Canada. They seemed to be totally unaware of how their worldviews also impacted all their political choices. They seemed to be utterly unaware of the growing secular pro-life movement. For how many of today’s Canadian journalists might the same be true?

They seemed to be quite unaware that the First Amendment to the US Constitution reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” In a 1802 letter Thomas Jefferson said this built a “wall of separation of church and state.” This wall is intended to keep the state out of the church, not religious people from being politicians.

How many of today’s Canadian media personnel might be equally unaware of “The Real Meaning of the Separation of Church and State” (Time, January 16, 2018)?

It seems that every argument to disqualify Dr. Leslyn Lewis from becoming leader of the CPC, lest she become our Prime Minister, based on the separation of church and state, betrays anti-democratic anti-religious bigotry as unacceptable in a pluralist democracy as racism. 

For every Canadian their values impact their votes. For every journalist their worldview impacts how they spin their stories, especially on political subjects. Let’s all be truly tolerant and democratic!

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