Religious faith is the civic oxygen of our social ecology



June 2, 2010

In yesterday’s Globe & Mail, Ray Pennings, Senior Fellow and Director of Research at Cardus, writes a response to Marci McDonald’s latest book ‘The Armageddon Factor: The Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada’,  echoing earlier remarks that he delivered at an ARPA Canada Parliament Hill event, arguing faith, rather than posing a threat to the country’s political process, is in fact the oxygen of civic life.

The policy analyst addresses McDonald’s anti-theist fear-mongering and appeal to the American concept of the separation of church and state, noting the former Maclean’s bureau chief ignores Canada’s founding values and denies the important contributions of the country’s religious communities to the public good of the nation:

“Confederation involved the creation of a national polity within which two separate societies, French Catholic and English Protestant, could unite. In the constitutional protection for religious education, in the social gospel movement of the early 20th century, or in the relationship of the Duplessis government to the Catholic Church, we find the broad trajectory of forces that bound otherwise disparate Canadians together. Yet our shift to the ‘secular pluralism’ of the past forty years has been possible primarily because of the social contributions of those who practice religious faith. There is, demonstrably, a civic oxygen on which Canadian social ecology relies, and it is generated by the nation’s churches, synagogues and mosques.”

Pennings concludes, rejecting Mcdonald’s thesis, arguing her claims are not only injurious, but flatly false and unsupported: “Historical, sociological, legal and philosophical evidence all prove that that the secularizing experiment of the past 40 years has been a failure. We cannot go on attempting to shape a public square in which God is neither met nor encountered.”

Aside from his public policy work, Pennings also serves as Teaching Elder of the Calgary Free Reformed Church in Calgary, Alberta.

Note: Readers can find the Globe article here.

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