I try to keep up with elections in the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, so I know that there is a Canadian election today. I want to encourage all my Canadian readers to vote, and to help me answer your concerns about Stephen Harper, I have an absolutely marvelous post from Catholic writer Denyse O’Leary.
Why are traditional religious communities dying?
[…][I]n a secular society, religious traditions are usually mediated through private institutions. Each decline in the importance of such institutions shuts off a passage to the life beyond that they mediate.
A child can grow up in a religious home today and discover that there are really only two players that matter: himself and big government. The only mediator and advocate is his entitlement card.
As he loses all interest in traditional spiritual life, he discovers the true faith of the progressive society:
Government controls more and more important stuff, and free association controls less and less. Government grants “freedom” to indulge oneself, of course, but that is almost a sacrament, and one that tends to weaken the citizen.
The transformation does not happen all at once, but by degrees. Recently, I was informed by a woman who considers herself a Catholic that abortion and euthanasia are mere “boutique issues,” compared to the awful things Stephen Harper is doing.
Just take in her basic idea for a moment:
The fundamental duty of government is to protect and advance human lives, but progressives know that their real business is currying favour with the growing numbers of fashionable identity groups. Increasingly, such groups will finance their advances on the public dollar. Some of the largesse may come from stripping traditional religious people and institutions of their property (possibly also in fines for non-compliance with some secularist belief). Most people we run into in the plaza will just be “nice” about the whole thing, no matter what is happening.
How do Christians respond?
Much as I sympathize, bracing for storms to come, I think Christians are mainly victims of ourselves.
Consider the excuses I hear (I am talking about legitimate Christian ones, not fundamentally anti-Christian ones, like the “boutique issue” claim above):
* “But Harper did nothing about abortion!”
Oh, for heaven’s sakes! As someone who dealt at close quarters with the abortion lobby for decades, I know they will gladly shut down free speech and freedom of conscience altogether to gain their ends. The euthanasia people will likely do the same. Until their fangs are drawn, nothing can really be done. Harper knows that drawing their fangs will be a serious struggle. And if you are not in it for the fight of your life, don’t interfere by demanding useless demonstrations of loyalty. Other parties will advance and cement their interests more than Harper’s will.
* “A spell of persecution would do us good”
Why is it always Western Christians who think this, not the Middle Eastern Christian and Yazidi girls sold into sex slavery, partly a result of the policy choices of progressive government? Reality check: Persecution causes the worst of human nature to flourish in our own communities as well as the best. Most communities cannot handle the strain. Do any of the Seven Churches of Asia exist today? Even one? Why is that?
[…]What should we do? It will take decades to send progressivism to its deserved reward. I will start by voting for the only party that is not actually hostile to our traditional values (like the right to live, and to speak freely).
[…]We need to grow up and stop funding, and voting for our enemies, and making excuses for anti-Christian bigots. (All the while making pathetic scolding noises.) If we need to change our bank accounts, our votes, our alumni donor policies, we do it individually because that is the responsible thing for an individual Christian adult to do.
And you don’t have to take her word for it, you can just look over to Europe and see how things are going in left-turning countries that embrace social justice. It’s a Christianity-killer.
Here’s a fairly recent paper (PDF) that explains it:
What accounts for cross-national variation in religiosity as measured by church attendance and non-religious rates? Examining answers from both secularization theory and the religious economy perspective, we assert that cross-national variation in religious participation is a function of government welfare spending and provide a theory that links macro-sociological outcomes with individual rationality. Churches historically have provided social welfare. As governments gradually assume many of these welfare functions, individuals with elastic preferences for spiritual goods will reduce their level of participation since the desired welfare goods can be obtained from secular sources. Cross-national data on welfare spending and religious participation show a strong negative relationship between these two variables after controlling for other aspects of modernization.
Kudos to Denyse for understanding what is happening in her country. At least one Canadian Christian understands the relationship between the Christian church’s influence and the size of government.
By the way, here is a voter guide to the positions of the 3 parties that will be of interest to voters:
It was posted by my Canadian friend Coralie. She follows these things quite closely.
Notice that both the leftist parties want to get rid of income splitting and tax-free savings accounts. Income-splitting for seniors allows one spouse to retire, and the income of the working spouse is split with the non-working spouse, so they pay less taxes. Families with young children also are eligible for income splitting, which is a boon to stay-at-home moms. And the tax-free savings account is like a ROTH IRA, except better – you can pull out all the tax-free gains at any time, for any reason, and the gains are NEVER taxed. We have nothing like that in the USA. It has changed the character of Canadians to value saving over spending, making them more responsible and independent from government. TFSAs are how you change the character of a nation.
Why vote for Stephen Harper?
My Canadian friend McKenzie is conservative now, but she was not always, and I remember her asking me a while back to explain what conservatives stand for. Well, I found an article that re-caps what Stephen Harper has achieved in the last 9 years. The article lists 100 accomplishments, with links to each one.
Here are some that stuck out to me:
- Adoption Expense Tax Credit increased — from a one-time $13,100 to 15,000 in 2014
- Age of Consent Legislation — raised from 14 to 16 effective May 1, 2008
- Beyond the Border Agreement with the U.S. — passed in late 2011, on perimeter security co-operation
- Canada Apprentice Loan Program — up to $4000 for those registered in any Red Seals apprenticeship training announced in January 2015
- Canada/EU Trade Agreement — although ratification still required, an `End of Negotiations`Agreement signed on September 26, 2014
- Canadian Wheat Board Monopoly Ends — Bill C18 removed the CWB’s monopoly regarding decisions made by many Western farmers to market their wheat
- Columbia Free Trade Agreement — went into force on August 15th, 2011
- Consumer Product Safety Act — came into effect June 20, 2011 to ensure manufacturers do not market dangerous products
- Corporate Tax Rate — reduced from 18% to 16.5% effective January 2012, with another 1.5% reduction in 2012 to 15%
- Corrupt Regimes Act (C-61) – allows Canada to act upon the request of a foreign state to freeze the assets that their former leaders and members of their entourage, including family members, senior officials and associates, may have placed in Canadian financial institutions
- Employment Insurance Premiums Reduced — in the fall of 2014 by 15% for to encourage small businesses to hire
- Exploited Persons Act — legislation that received Royal Assent to protect against drug, organized or prostitution type of crime
- Express Entry Immigration into Canada Program — when skilled immigrants to Canada will get quick entry so that they can contribute to economy
- Fairness at the Pumps Act (C-14) – protects Canadian consumers from inaccurate measurements when purchasing gasoline effective August 2014
- Family Caregiver Tax Credit — Bill C-13 established a new $2000 tax credit on December 15, 2011 to help families dealing with challenging medical expenses
- Family Income Splitting — families with children under 18 will be allowed to split income beginning in 2014 up to $50,000 with credit capped at $2000.00
- Federal Infrastructure Plan — longest long-term plan in Canadian history supporting projects that enhance economic growth, job creation and productivity
- Free Trade Agreement — signed on July 2, 2009 — between Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland
- Gun Registry Scrapped — as the legislation passed Third Reading
- GST /HST– Goods & Services Tax Cut — From 7% to 6% and then to 5%
- Honduras Free Trade Agreement — completed and signed on November 5th, 2013 and will enter into force on June 19, 2014
- Income Splitting for Canadian Seniors — a change to the Income Tax Act for pensioners starting in 2006
- Jordan Free Trade Agreement — went into force on October 1st, 2012
- Kid’s sport tax credit — up to $500 per child
- Mission Against ISIL extended March 30, 2015 — to aid the people of Iraq and Syria
- Ombudsman for Victims of Crime — Established
- Panama Free Trade Agreement — went into force on April 1st, 2013
- Peru – Canada Free Trade Agreement — adopted by Parliament June 18, 2009
- Protecting Victims from Sexual Offenders — signed on December 15, 2010 to protect children against sexual predators
- Safe Streets & Communities Act — passed March June 13, 2012 to protect children and communities against terrorism
- South Korea Free Trade Agreement Signed on September 22, 2014 — 1st Asia Pacific Agreement with final legislative steps for full implementation on November 26, 2014
- Tax cuts made 160 Times — since the Conservatives took office in 2006
- Tax Free Savings Account with an initial annual limit of $5500.00 — which was raised to $10,000 in April 2015 budget
- Taxpayers Bill of Rights
- Taxpayers Ombudsman
- Temporary Foreign Workers Program — reforms made so that Canadians are hired first
- Universal Child Care Benefit — in 2006 $1,200.00 per year for every child under age six
- Universal Child Care Benefit Enhancement — effective January 1st, 2015, beginning July 1st, 2015, parents will receive $160.00 per child per month up to age six and $60.00 for each child aged 6 to 17
- Victims Bill of Rights — Bill C-32 passed on June 18th, 2014
It’s important to know what you are voting for, not just what you are voting against.