ARPA’s Engage Parliament With Faith-Based Perspective

Update: Click here for the MP3 audio recording of Ray Penning’s talk to MP’s. You can play it online or right click the link to save it to your MP3 player.

( – May 11, 2010: The faith-based concerns of ARPA Canada were effectively communicated, Tuesday, May 4 and Wednesday, May 5, as representatives of Canada’s Reformed churches gathered in Ottawa to encourage and exhort Members of Parliament and Senators to heed the claims of Scripture and religious convictions of Canada’s electorate in public life.

Twenty-three delegates representing Reformed churches and electoral ridings across British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario joined ARPA Canada National Director Mark Penninga and ARPA Canada Chair John Voorhorst along with faith-based policy analyst and keynote speaker Ray Pennings on Parliament Hill to advocate on behalf of the unborn, the family and the religious civic core of the nation.

ARPA Canada delegates met with elected representative at their Parliamentary offices throughout the day, Tuesday, gaining access to the legislative halls of the Justice and Confederation Buildings as well as the East, West and Centre Blocks of Parliament, not only presenting concerns, but also offering support and encouragement to various policymakers and holders of public office.

The day’s activities included a special luncheon hosted at the Parliamentary dining room, a tour of the Centre Block of Parliament, the Library of Parliament as well as the Memorial Chamber in the Peace Tower.  Delegates also had the opportunity to visit to the gallery of the House of Commons during Tuesday’s sitting session of Question Period.

A highlight of the day of salt and light advocacy was an evening Parliament Hill address, hosted by ARPA Canada in the West Block of Parliament and co-sponsored by Conservative Member of Parliament Maurice Vellacott and Liberal Member of Parliament the Honourable John McKay.

In his keynote address, ‘Public Religion in a Privatized Society: The Role of Christianity in Secular Society’, Ray Pennings, Senior Fellow and Director of Research at Cardus, addressed nineteen Conservative, Liberal and New Democratic Members of Parliament, contending private beliefs inevitably lead to public consequences.  Pennings argued the pan-Canadian consensus and political embrace of secularism over the last forty years has failed, stressing elected representatives ignore the Judeo-Christian foundation of Confederation and religious convictions of contemporary voters to their own peril.  The faith-based policy analyst noted:

“After a century of existence in which the public dimensions of religion were broadly understood, Canada along with most of the Western world has lived as if the secularization thesis were true.  Most believed that modernization of necessity meant the decline of religion and the past forty years have seen the development of a polity in which religion is understood as primarily a private matter.”

Pennings urged the country’s political leaders to recognize the important contributions of Canada’s religious communities to the public good of the nation, especially highlighting the ongoing efforts of the Christian church.

“Any honest dialogue will recognize something of the positive contribution that an organic vibrant Christian church can make to our shared life together.”

A full-length text of Pennings’ Tuesday evening address was distributed, along with a copy of last year’s 2009 address, ‘God and Government: A Biblical Perspective on the Role of the State’ by Dr. Cornelis Van Dam, Professor of Old Testament, Vice-Principal and Dean of Students at the Theological College of the Canadian Reformed Churches in Hamilton, Ontario, to Members of Parliament and their assistants following the event.

Hosted by members of the Jubilee Canadian Reformed Church of Ottawa and held at the Ottawa Reformed Presbyterian Church, delegates and board members of ARPA Canada met the following day, Wednesday, May 5, for a National Conference, reviewing the organization’s ongoing advocacy on Parliament Hill and local efforts at the federal, provincial and municipal levels.

Local ARPA groups shared organizational challenges and successes in their efforts to press federal and provincial legislators and municipal representatives on important faith-based issues.  A mutually edifying exercise, local groups were encouraged to collaborate and work together, to promote the formation of new groups across the country and to maintain current levels of involvement throughout the year.

ARPA Canada remains committed to its core mission to educate, equip and encourage Reformed Christians to political action and to shine the light of God’s Word to Canada’s federal, provincial and municipal governments.

. For questions relating to donations, please contact John Voorhorst at 403-328-9114 or [email protected]. For questions about ARPA Canada and this event, please contact Mark Penninga toll-free at 1-866-691-ARPA or [email protected].