I meant to write a nice post for Canada Day and I was going to include the preamble from the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms because I was sure it had some nice language, even if I couldn’t remember what that language was.
So, I googled it. It turns out that the first line of the Charter is this:
Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law.
Which is, in a country as secular and multi-cultural and live and let live as mine, is pretty darn surprising.
I am a practicing Christian* and I am offended by this, mostly because I recognize that many of my fellow Canadians are great and loyal citizens who do not recognize the supremacy of the same God that I do, or the supremacy of only one God, or the supremacy of any God at all.
This really, really bothers me, even though I know that I would have read the charter many times before when I was still in university, and it didn’t bother me then. Maybe it’s because I’m older and I have a better idea that there’s lots of ways to be an honest, upright and decent human and not every last one of them involve salvation, it sure bothers me now.
The more I thought about it, the more I thought that I should probably send someone a letter pointing out that we as a nation should think about changing the wording, what with something like 30-40% of Canadians not believing in any sort of God. This is, after all, the sort of document that is supposed to represent all Canadians and alienating a huge chunk right in the first line doesn’t seem the way to go about it.
I will do and say all of this as a Christian, because I don’t think we need a country under God. I think we need a country that gives the same value to citizens and represents the needs and make up of all of her sons and daughters. I am pretty sure that we can recognize the rule of law without the supremacy of God. My best friend the atheist seems to manage paying her taxes, doing the speed limit, engaging in political life, doing her bit to make the country a better place and being a decent human without reference to the 10 commandments.
I realized, this is Canada – exactly. I will be angered by something. I will write my local politician, and maybe my prime minister. We will have a civilized discussion where I express my concerns and they listen. I will remember their responses when I go to vote in the next election.
The most incredible thing about my country is the discussion: I get to say that I don’t like the fact that our charter has explicitly Christian language. And I don’t worry that someone will kill me, arrest me, throw things at my house or cause me to lose my job.
I don’t worry that I’ll be laughed out of town, lose my citizenship or even cause all that much angst.
And if you asked me thing thing that I most love about this country? It is this – a place where we can have a civilized discussion, without fear, about what is best for all of us.
Happy Canada Day.
I’m proud to live here.
*Practicing Christian – I pray. I go to church once in a while. I read the bible more often than that.