Secular society protects minorities

I am Christian therefore I fight for the minority rights

There is nothing more irksome than someone misrepresenting me.  I totally disagree with Russel Whittaker.  In his letter to the editor to the Lethbridge Herald on June 9 he blamed non-Christian immigrants who caused the Supreme Court of Canada to ban the recitation Lord’s Prayer in public schools and city halls in Canada. He demanded that such non-Christian immigrants should go back to where they came from.  His view of claiming a majority rights of Christians does not represent me at all.  I am a committed Christian too, but I vigorously defend the rights of minority to remain different and to be comfortable among us.  My Christian conviction dictates that a civilised democratic country respects the rights of the minority and the vulnerable: such a country needs to be secular.

My father was a Methodist Minister during the WW II in Japan.  He often did not come home after Sundays for a few days.  Until recently I did not know that he spent those times interrogated about  his sermons by “Tokko Keisatsu” – the Special Police Force like German Gestapo .   He was pressured to confess and declare the divinity of the emperor.  He refused. The divinity of the Commander-in-Chief, the emperor, was the basis of the absolute power the military wielded.  Some ministers of religion were beaten to death during interrogation.  Dad died soon after the end of the war at the age of fifty from the stress he suffered.  This is the reason why Japanese Christians today are fierce advocates of the secular state: no official observance of any religion in public.

Orthodox Churches in Egypt, Iraq, Palestine, and Syria are ancient churches probably founded by the original Apostles.  Today they are in minority surrounded by Muslims and  are sometimes  persecuted.  In extreme cases, they are brutally killed as we observed recently in Lybia, Iraq, and Syria by extremists.  This is why they advocate for secular states: no observance of any religion in public life.  In Israel and Palestine, the minority Arab Orthodox Christians have been leaving the region in droves because of being minority among Jewish and Muslims majority.  As the result, there are more Christian Palestinians living in Canada than in Jerusalem today.  Some of them are descendants of the original Christians claiming the origine of their tradition to the Pentecost.  I know one of them.

To me, the essence of the Gospel is inclusiveness, tolerance, and universal love.  Unfortunately some of us who called ourselves Christians do not live up to that standard, and mis-take dominance and exclusion as faithfulness.  Have we not learn anything from the barbarous and tragic history of “Indian Residential School?”*

*  (Footnote) On June 9, 2015, the report of the Truth and  Reconciliation Commission which heard the experiences of the thousands of former students of so-called Indian Residential Schools was published.  Canadian government’s policy was to kill all identities, cultural, societal, and religious traditions of the Canadian First nations by rounding up all the children from the indigenous communities and forced them to live in the residential schools, where use of their native language, any practice of their spiritual customs and culture were prohibited.  The implementation of this policy lasted nearly a century. That created destruction of their society resulted in the wide-spread dysfunctional communities with crimes, abuse of alcohol and drugs. The chair of the commission termed this policy as “Cultural Genocide.”

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