A few months ago I was standing in a church lobby in Edmonton when a young woman approached and asked me if I had every heard of the Five Man Electrical Band. Without missing a beat, I sang the opening verse of their iconic 1970 hit ‘Signs’.
And the sign said “Long-haired freaky people need not apply”
So I tucked my hair up under my hat and I went in to ask him why
He said “You look like a fine upstanding young man, I think you’ll do”
So I took off my hat, I said “Imagine that. Huh! Me workin’ for you!”
Whoa-oh-oh… Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind
Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign?
What followed next can best be described by saying, we shared a moment. It turns out her father was one of the founding members of this Ottawa based rock band which produced multiple hits in the ’70’s but is still best known for this song.
Lead singer Les Emmerson wrote the song after taking a road trip on Route 66 in California, where he noticed gigantic billboards that he felt littered the roadway and obscured the beautiful scenery. He wondered aloud: Who is allowed to put up signs that interfere with nature? This led to another question: Who gets to make the rules that appear on so many signs?
The song was an attempt to give voice to the powerless masses that have rules placed upon them by arbitrary forces. Half a century later not much has changed, except the signs have a new target – Christians. Our Federal Government has erected a new sign that says Christians need not apply. Literally! Now before you dismiss this as another anti-Justin Trudeau rant about our dope dealing Prime Minister, hear me out. This is something quite different this time and even more insidious. There is an agenda at play in Canada to systematically strip Christians of their right to freedom of religion and conscience.
This past December the Federal government announced that it will double the funding for the successful Canada Summer Jobs program from $35M to $70M. This is where grants are made available to organizations to hire students for the summer. When we were a new struggling church we used to take advantage of the program to hire one or two students every summer. That will no longer be an option as Bible-believing freaky christians need not apply. You see the grants will only be made available to groups that first sign an “attestation” saying they agree with the government’s views on abortion and gender identity. “These include reproductive rights, and the right to be free from discrimination on the basis of sex, religion, race, national or ethnic origin, colour, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression.” In other words any business or organization that holds a pro-life position on abortion or a traditional view on marriage and sexuality is ineligible.
To conclude that this is just a mere inconvenience would be to miss the fact that this is systemic religious discrimination at its worst. We have been specifically singled out as ineligible because of our religious beliefs. As Bible believing Christians we cannot sign the aforementioned attestation since we simply cannot disregard the sanctity of life or of marriage. These things are part of our core beliefs and that will never change unless God does a rewrite of the scriptures, which I do not see happening any time soon since Jesus said, Heaven and earth will pass away but My Word will never pass away. This is also just the latest in a long list of overt attempts to curtail the Christian faith in Canada.
In 2014 when Justin Trudeau became leader of the Liberal party he declared that he would not sign the nomination papers of any prospective candidate that did not uphold his party’s pro-choice position on abortion. This effectively eliminated any practicing Catholics or Evangelicals from running for his party. Which was the intended goal. Our Prime Minister once remarked, “Evangelical Christians are the worst part of Canadian society”.
In 2016 after taking office the Trudeau government shut down the Office of Religious Freedom, launched by the previous government, to defend the rights of persecuted religious minorities overseas. Later that same year the Federal government pressured Prince Edward Island into offering abortion services in their hospitals for the first time by threatening to withhold heath care funding.
In 2017 the Liberal government announced $650 million in funding towards sexual and reproductive rights in developing countries. International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau defended the decision by saying that “contraception and even abortion is only a tool to end poverty.” Yikes!
There are of course many more examples but these should be enough to convince any skeptics that there is something nefarious going on in Canada and most of us are not even aware of it. It pains me to be the doomsayer. I would much rather write funny and ridiculous blogs about Trudeau, like how much he reminds me of Derek Zoolander.
But as Bible believing Christians there is no question that we are heading towards very troubled waters. Not only are our values now in the minority position, they are no longer regarded as valid to even hold. We are already routinely accused of hate speech when we talk about biblical morality. And with the pace in which things are changing we are a hairs-breath away from this discrimination we face, becoming criminalization. I realize I sound like one of those nutty alarmists… but at least this way when we are all sitting in concentration camps, I can say, “I told you so”.
What we are seeing today is nothing new. The first century church faced the same kind of opposition from the Roman Empire. Christians were thrown to the lions, sawn in half or torn limb from limb and yet the church continued to grow and make a difference in the world. Persecution has a funny way of bringing out the best in believers. One can no longer sit on the fence but must decide whether they are going to live out their faith or not. Under threat of persecution, lukewarmness, that is so common in many churches today, gives way to radical committed followers of Jesus that are no longer intimidated in the face of opposition. They live their faith out in bold proclamation without regard to the worldly powers (that will eventually have to bow their knee to the living God). “Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word” (Acts 4:29) When the disciples were confronted again on why they continued to proclaim the name of Jesus, “Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29)
Hey, I don’t want it to get to this point any more than the next guy, but I’ll be damned (literally) if I am going to stand by silently and just let it happen. And maybe, just maybe if we let our voices be heard, we wouldn’t end up this mess in the first place.