Against stereo-type – One size does not fit all.


Before she was disgraced for plagiarism, the Gobal and Mail columnist Margaret Wente accused the United Church of Canada of being too much of activists, and said that was the reason for declining membership. She must have forgotten that many churches have always been activist throughout history. It’s called prophetic ministry. Religion is not only for personal gratification. It is also very much about society. I resent any stereo-type.

When I lived in Switzerland during the seventies, my 10 year old daughter was often asked by her schoolmates, “Why are you not good in Math?” ( She wasn’t.) It was assumed that all Korean and Japanese children were good in Math. She hated such a stereo-type. People are different. There are Japanese persons who can not handle chop sticks either.

All those who call themselves Christians do not reject evolution and are not for Pro-Life anti-abortion. Then how come the adjective “Christian” is often applied only to the Evangelicals. Muslim brothers and sisters suffer in the West from a stereo-type characterization of “extremists” or even worse “terrorists.” Most of them are not. When I live in Jerusalem in 2003, I met many Israelis who were against the Jewish settlements in Palestinian territories. All Israelis are not supporters of right-wing Likud Party. Members of the LDS Church suffers from the label “cult.” They are Christians too. Look at the name, “the Church of Jesus Christ.” The First Nations suffer the stereo-type most often. Stereo-typing people is not fair and is wrong. Democracy can be destroyed by such bigoted and racist attitude toward people.

The recent United Church policy statement, regarding the Northern Gateway Pipeline and the Jewish settlements in Palestinian territories, was branded as a political action not worthy of the Christian Church by people like Margaret Wente. They forget there is a strong belief in the Social Gospel since 19th Century with people like Bishop William Temple. Stanley Knowles (United Church), Tommy Douglas (Baptist) were both clergymen who believed that the Gospel must be a good news in societal matters. In fact, those clergy were about the only ones who defended the rights of Japanese-Canadians during the WW II. A large part of my life as a clergy person was a fight against racism in South Africa.

All religions have personal and societal applications. In ancient times, Hebrew people called them Priestly and Prophetic functions. One size does not fit all.

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