Albertans’ anti-Christian bigotry is shocking

A view of the Alberta Legislature building from the roof of the Annex building in Edmonton on August 23, 2012.   (Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal)

CALGARY – The most shocking thing about Alberta Premier Jim Prentice’s new cabinet isn’t that he has chosen two unelected cabinet ministers, though that’s generating a lot of buzz to be sure.

What’s really alarming, however, is the open, anti-Christian bigotry attacking one of those unelected ministers — Gordon Dirks — who is Alberta’s new minister of education.

Dirks, 67, is perhaps best known in Calgary for being a trustee with the Calgary Board of Education from 1999 to 2010, and being the CBE’s chair four times during those years. He is widely considered the best and most competent board chair in memory and came in at a time of great turbulence, which he helped smooth over with his diplomacy, competency and calmness.

Twitter commentators sure didn’t like the news that this man with a bachelor of education degree from the University of Saskatchewan, as well as a master’s degree in education from the University of Regina, has been given Alberta’s Education portfolio.

He was seemingly deemed unfit because of his “very Christian POV (point of view.)”

Another wrote: “This is not good. Bible College admin in the past.” And another: “I find this VERY concerning.” One tweet wondered if this was Prentice’s way of “trying to appeal to the wing nuts the (Wildrose Party) got rid of?”

Sticking with the theme regarding the “lake of fire” comments that derailed the Wildrose Party’s 2012 election, another tweet said: “Dirks’ appointment to the office of Minister of Education is nothing less than a Lake of Fire level scandal.”

Another person questioned whether a Christian education minister could support “the goals of our secular public school system.”

Where to begin to counter such anti-Christian prejudice and ignorance? First, who do all these people think founded and built the public school system in Alberta and the rest of Canada? The current public system started off being the Protestant Christian school system, conceived, paid for and run by churches. As Canada grew more diverse, the Christian aspects in the school diminished as well, where now it’s practically a firing offence if a teacher wishes her class a Merry Christmas or utters the word “Easter,” rather than the words “Spring Break.”

Also, pull out a globe and consider the following. Virtually every free and democratic country on the planet was founded with the Judeo-Christian ethic. That’s not some huge cosmic accident — there’s a link.

As for Dirks, gee, I wonder if his background can give us a hint if he’s a supporter of public education? That he ran for public trustee and won four times, serving on Calgary’s public school board from 1999 to 2010 is probably a pretty good clue. He was chosen four times by his board colleagues to be the chair of the board until he no longer wanted the position. Most of us would never put in the kinds of hours and commitment for the kind of measly pay elected Calgary Board of Education board members made during most of those years. Dirks was also a public school teacher and a public school principal. I would say that pretty much is bona fide proof he cares more than most about public education.

Yes, he has also held executive administrative roles with both the Canadian Bible College and Rocky Mountain College, private Christian universities, but that just bolsters his credentials and doesn’t negate in any way his long involvement with public education, except in the minds of the most closed-minded people.

Dirks also has considerable political experience. He was a minister of Social Services and minister of Urban Affairs with the government of Saskatchewan, and in 1990, became an assistant deputy minister for corporate services with the Alberta ministry of Family and Social Services. He was an executive pastor for Beulah Alliance Church in Edmonton and was, until this swearing in, a pastor at Centre Street Church in Calgary.

What’s astonishing about these bigoted comments against Dirks specifically, and Christianity in general, is that no similar comments would ever be written about people of other faiths.

No one wondered, for instance, if Manmeet Bhullar, a devout Sikh, can carry out the role of Infrastructure minister because of his faith. No similar slur was written about former Edmonton mayor Stephen Mandel, who was appointed Alberta’s (unelected) Health minister, who also happens to be Jewish. But it’s open season on Christians.

Sure Christians are still the majority (almost 70 per cent of the population, according to the 2011 census) and therefore an easier target.

You don’t need to be brave, of course, to attack Christians. They tend to “turn the other cheek” and “pray for those who persecute” them, as they are called upon by Jesus to do.

Insulted and attacked Christians don’t tend to protest, take people to the human rights commission or issue a deadly fatwa. It doesn’t take any courage at all. Just a lot of ignorance and bigotry. For shame.

Read the original article here.