Was Andrew Scheer the ‘stick’ needed to rouse from sleep Canada’s Christian voting giant?
The Toronto Star was forced to eat political crow over the weekend. On Friday they predicted federal Conservative candidate Maxime Bernier had the party leadership ‘almost in the bag’. Just one day later their follow-up article showed just how out of touch Toronto can be when it comes to the rest of Canada: “Andrew Scheer wins Conservative leadership in major upset.” What? Surely this is a misprint! How could the political shamans of the Toronto Star get it so horribly wrong? Answer: social conservatives.
This year Canada’s Conservatives went with a ranked balloting system. This means that, unlike first-past-the-post, your vote is not thrown away if your initial choice is a ‘no-name’ candidate. Instead, you are permitted to ‘rank’ your vote and select a second choice, a third, and so on for as many as you like. In each round the least popular candidate drops off and his or her supporters’ votes then shift to their next-best choice on their ballot.
In Round One Maxime Bernier, a popular secularist libertarian, nabbed 29% and Scheer 22%. Canada’s social conservatives initially threw support behind two candidates: Brad Trost from Saskatchewan and Pierre Lemieux from Ontario, who together took 16%. However, even though he started with a sizable seven percent head start, Bernier ultimately lost to Scheer simply because more voters had Scheer down as an alternative. An examination of the vote count reveals that most Trost/Lemieux supporters put Scheer down as their third option.
But Canada’s SoCons may want to restrain their cheers for the moment. Despite receiving about a third of his support from them, Scheer’s recent comments and his failure to defend the definition of traditional marriage two years ago exposes him as a fiscal conservative wearing SoCon clothing. Pundits and Scheer himself say his future support for the advancement of important issues like the protection of all human life will resemble that of Stephen Harper’s. In other words, almost no serious support at all.
So what are Christians to do? StatsCan’s latest census shows that an impressive 24 million Canadians continue to call themselves Christian. But how ‘Christian’ actually are they? A 2015 Angus Reid survey concluded that 23% of Canadian Christians claim to attend church regularly. In Alberta, with a population of four million, that means that over 600,000 Albertans still say they sit through sermons at least once a month. Sadly, only 2,200 of those Albertans — or one out of every 300 active Christians — actually took the few minutes needed to participate in the recent federal leadership race.
But what if that were to change? What if this recent political ‘upset’ were to inspire Canadian Christians to start flexing their political muscle? What if groups were to begin meeting across the nation on a regular basis to discuss the political issues of the day? (Meeting right after Sunday services would be ideal.) What if these same groups then took their engagement to the next level and became active in all of Canada’s political parties? If just one percent of inactive SoCons were to begin fulfilling their civic and Christian duty there would be 50,000 new Conservatives ready to further upset the establishment’s apple cart at the next federal leadership race. With just 2% of Christians engaged in federal affairs the Conservative party would have no choice but to begin addressing SoCon issues seriously.
Were this to take place the next conservative leadership race would be forced to contend with a massive social conservative contingent whose numbers had increased ten fold. Instead of 22,000 SoCons backing Lemieux and Trost imagine 220,000 active Christians out of total of 300,000 card-carrying Conservatives. Such an inspiring majority would firmly put fiscal conservatives in the passenger seat (of the party but not the country — that task would be next).
What if during these regular gatherings at church Christians discussed upcoming legislation at all levels of government and in doing so became more aware of the dire principles that are often at stake. These Christians would naturally begin sharing their new-found knowledge within their communities, and they could alert the rest of the church when urgent political action is required. It is likely that key political players would begin asking to present themselves at these gatherings to advocate their case. Highly articulate Christians may begin to step forward and even run for office. It is entirely possible that these new meetings taking place all across Canada would actually begin getting our society back on a solid foundation.
One important point: It should be a key tenet of this new organization that it never form its own official political party, but would rather work within the framework of all existing parties.
Current Christian political lethargy notwithstanding, none of this is new. Christians have been defending western civilization for two thousand years. Christian monks brought light to the darkness of the Dark Ages. Christian knights successfully halted the initial Muslim onslaughts that had enslaved Christian societies throughout Africa and Asia. For the first time since the Romans Christian masons began building amazing examples of architecture in the form of majestic cathedrals. For almost a thousand years Christians have been founding our universities, building our hospitals and tending to society’s poor and helpless. Christian political activists have abolished slavery, protected children with labor laws and were the first to champion the right of women to vote.
For two thousand years Christians have stepped forward in political matters and now should be no exception. Political action is badly needed on many fronts. Islamic terrorism is on the rise. Over a hundred thousand helpless Canadians still die horribly-painful deaths on abortion tables every year. We must now contend with ‘assisted suicides.’ We find that our public school system is often failing to teach our children basic things like reading, writing and arithmetic. Instead, their central aim seems to be indoctrinating our kids to embrace sexual immorality and ultimately replacing any real concept of right and wrong with “whatever feels good.” The definition of the family itself — the very cornerstone of our society — stands upon a precipice. Christian political involvement here in Canada could not be more needed as it is right now.
But inevitably, whenever Christians are encouraged to involve themselves in politics the detractors bring out the old “separation of church and state” argument. This canard is drawn from the United State’s First Amendment and is ironically designed to protect individuals from all religions to be able to speak freely on all matters, including politics. To shrink from controversial issues — when political involvement is needed most — essentially surrenders the rights of Christians to the interests of all others. This is the precise opposite of what our Lord wants. When Jesus witnessed the injustice of the money-changers at the temple I do not recall the scripture having him say “Oh well. You can’t fight city hall.” Not at all. He responded immediately and rightly so. So should we.
Surely the time has come for many more Canadian Christians to step forward and be counted. Champions of social conservative values like Gwen Landolt, John Carpay, and Jonathon Van Maren continue to fight the good fight, but they badly need help.
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. Edmund Burke
To that end I have unofficially begun CHRIAS.org (Christians Honoring the Resurrection In Affairs of State). We think of this as a fully Christian endeavor — neither Catholic nor Protestant but essentially, both. I have therefore drafted my father, Ted Byfield, to the cause. (This is only fair since he has been drafting me into such causes for as long as I can remember.) So right now we have three members: Ted, me, and my beautiful and ever-patient wife Grace. Where it goes from here is entirely up to God, and you.
How can you help? I can think of three ways:
First, share this article with as many of your friends as possible — by email, FaceBook, Twitter or whatever social media you prefer. When doing so, be sure to include your own comments and any suggestions you may have for this undertaking. Feel free to copy me on such correspondence if you think it may help. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org or you can friend me on FaceBook.
Secondly, and more importantly, consider approaching your church’s leadership with the idea of forming a club. By joining your efforts with ours we hope to work together and make these events as interesting and inspiring as possible. If you’re not sure how many will step forward or how to proceed, trust God. He has yet to fail us. Remember that even when just two or three gather in His name He is with us.
Thirdly, and most important of all, pray. Pray for the success of this undertaking. Pray that for every Canadian who has so faithfully championed our causes thus far ten more Christians will now step forward and stand with them. Pray that, with God’s mighty power supporting us, who can stand against us? Pray that Canadians will soon be triumphantly reclaiming our Christian democratic heritage!
Much is at stake. Are you with us?