Rex Murphy: In Justin Trudeau’s world, Christians need not apply
The intersection of religion and politics can produce profound ethical dilemmas. For those who are religious, who see the performance of their faith here on earth as bearing on their destiny in the hereafter, politics can be a threatening pursuit. Religious imperatives are not intermittent, do not suffer exceptions, may not be quarantined from any aspect of a religiously engaged life.
And if a Christian is a politician, then his public conduct, his thinking and voting on matters of public concern, will naturally, inescapably, seek the polar star and guidance of his religious understanding. Religion is not an accessory to one’s occupation and career. It has a core relationship to all of life.
Politics has its imperatives, too. Even if its sanctions as far as we know do not (yet) reach into the afterlife, it has ways to urge obedience and enforce conformity. On the issue of abortion, the federal Liberals provide a case in point.
Elected Liberal MPs are under Justin Trudeau’s direct order that, in any legislation that touches on the abortion issue, they must — mindless of their faith, their previous professions on the subject, or their conscience — vote the “pro-choice” dogma. Pro-abortion is the party line. And it is the only line allowed.
This is very odd. I should clarify that I am not debating the pros and cons of abortion per se. Leave that for another time. But I am pointing to an irreconcilable dilemma facing any individual with genuine religious convictions who wishes, in this age, to stand for public office.
Lawrence MacAulay, a Catholic, and a Liberal MP from PEI, provides the most recent illustration of this dilemma.
Poor Mr. MacAulay for a while imagined that he could still vote how he actually thought and felt on the abortion issue. After all, he was elected before Justin Trudeau had demanded full submission from all MPs in this area. Now, MP MacAulay has learned that he must suffocate his real views, and vote quite the opposite of how (I presume) his faith and his own inclination would have him vote. An MP turning himself into a logical and moral pretzel to stay in line with his party is not an inspiring sight.
What kind of politics are they which require an MP to renounce his deepest moral commitments; indeed, to go beyond renunciation and declare himself positively in favour of ideas and actions that his faith condemns, his Church forbids, and his conscience cannot abide?
Religion, under these conditions, cannot survive political engagement. An understanding of politics based on an exclusion of thoughtful and engaged religious people — on the rejection of ideas and understandings offered by the great religious teachers and the massive legacy of thought our churches have to offer — is radically incomplete.
As things now are, a truly religious person must actually stay out of politics — must forgo an active role in democratic government — because in our brazen and new age, he or she will be faced with irreconcilable moral choices. If elected, he or she will be required to betray their faith and themselves, and on those very issues that matter most: issues of life, family, autonomy and the dignity of persons.
As leader, Mr.Trudeau houses some of this clash, this tension between faith and politics, in himself and in his own practice. He has not faced the problem so much as diverted it. He classifies abortion under the banner of what he calls “women’s rights” — an absolute status. But he does this mainly by vigorous assertion, and a garbled interpretation of constitutional law, than by any clear argumentation. He has never delineated why the progressive view of abortion cannot be challenged, while it is open season on religiously inspired belief.
It would be very fine to hear him genuinely elaborate his thinking on this sensitive area. The nation is all ears, if he ever cares to do so.
Read the original editorial here.