Is There Room for Faith in Politics?

December 10, 2019 Updated: January 7, 2020
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Commentary

The Conservative Party has been engaged in the requisite collective soul-searching that all parties go through after an election loss.

Some say that given the SNC-Lavalin scandal and the revelations of images of Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau wearing blackface as well as other issues, the election was the Conservatives’ to win, and Andrew Scheer lost it. Others point out that the Tories in fact increased their share of the popular vote and seat count, and the caucus is united in their support of Scheer.

But that is only a peripheral part of the story. There are deeper questions that need to be asked if Canada is to remain a country that truly embodies freedom of choice.

During the election campaign, the Conservatives were assailed by a left-leaning media opposed to social-conservative views and anyone who embodies them. In the aftermath, there has been a movement within the party to abandon some of its long-held positions on social issues.

If you listen to the most vocal proclamations coming from the metropolitan hubs of Ontario and British Columbia, it would be easy to assume that progressive social values are nationally accepted and desired. But that would be a mistake. There are many who see value in tradition and are not interested in changing their views on social issues. It is far from obvious that conservative-minded Canadians are abandoning their political leanings—they just need a party willing to represent them.

The push within the Conservative Party to distance itself from the social-conservative values that defined it should not be left unchallenged. In moving further to the left as a means to stay relevant, they will inevitably alienate their base of core supporters.

They can either move further to the left and ignore its base of supporters or resist the leftward pull. The decision is a difficult one when votes count, but the party would be wise to base its judgment on principle.

At the core of democracy is an acceptance and a tolerance of differing opinions—these are a requisite for a free and open society that requires more than a choice between left or far-left leadership. The collectivist delusion that there is only one correct position on social issues will not lead to societal cohesion but collapse. Communism’s ugly reign in the 20th century made that brutally clear.

Religion and Politics

The media and the Liberals relentlessly focused on Scheer’s personal ideas around faith, making them a key election issue. As a Christian who takes the tenets of his religion seriously, Scheer was portrayed as being out of vogue in today’s secular society.

One could make the case that Scheer’s reluctance to clearly state his personal views on marriage and abortion cost him the election, and they may well cost him his position as leader as well. His inability or unwillingness to clearly articulate his views and forthrightly present them is said by critics to have been detrimental to his campaign.

Perhaps Scheer was reluctant to explicitly voice his personal views, knowing they would serve as fodder for the opposition. But avoiding the questions led to distrust, despite reassurances that his personal views would not inform his policies. The constant attacks from media, with reporters asking pointed questions about his faith, didn’t help either. It’s fair to point out that other leaders didn’t get attacked about their deeply held personal views to anywhere near the same extent. An Angus Reid poll showed that while 66 percent of respondents were aware of media coverage of Scheer’s faith, only 31 percent were aware of coverage of Trudeau’s faith.

So is there still a place for religious believers in public life? It’s a relevant question in the age of moral relativism.

Solid leadership is based on traditional, universal, moral principles. These principles are found in the tenets of most major religions and are not exclusive to one race, nation, or dogma. They have been distilled through the ages and it is only in recent history that their validity has been questioned.

The miraculous balance we maintain as a civilization of 7.5 billion people owes to the moral prescriptions found in the major religions. It is foolish to dismiss them as antiquated when they enabled the whole of civilization to progress to the point it has today. But so out of favour are these ideals that they are seen as a liability rather than a strength. This trend poses a major threat to the roots of the West’s ethical societal framework and the Judeo-Christian values that gave birth to our democratic marvels.

The idea that one has to dance around his or her religious convictions in order to appease those who hold different views is folly. It takes a great degree of courage and conviction to adhere to one’s conscience, and it should be recognized as a critical foundation of real leadership.

There is a certain moral barometer found in traditional religions. For all their differences, they share many similarities in prescribing how to live a morally upright life. It is increasingly rare and exponentially difficult to live by conviction when swimming against the current leftist tide. People willing to do that are increasingly rare, especially in public life, but it is essential if the hard-won wisdom of our forebears is to be preserved.

As a society, we should embrace those who maintain the courage of their convictions, so long as those convictions are not forced upon others.

Ryan Moffatt is a journalist based in Vancouver.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.