Dear Mr. MacGregor,
I am a church minister in the Presbyterian Church in Canada and a constituent in your riding. I’m neither a politician nor a political scientist, I am a concerned citizen with at least some notion of the responsibilities of the office of Governor General and Prime Minister. My understanding must be wrong if a person representing the Supreme Governor of the Church of England would deem it the place of her office to mock and deride the faith claims of that church and if the PM feels it is his role to support her. I am not an expert and that part of the evaluation I leave to them. My concern is less the mechanics and more the content and the place of religious groups in Canada.
To save you some Googling the Presbyterians are an old denomination (congregations in Canada begin in 1753) that counts many prominent Canadians as members, including former Prime-Ministers, many scientists, writers, and, in America, we are proud to call Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, a member (her sister is a minister). Presbyterians have been helping build this country alongside people of different faiths since it was a couple of colonies, the school I attended in Montreal pre-dates confederation and currently serves three faith groups simultaneously. I have always been proud of our heritage and tradition in Canada as being a place where people of many different beliefs and backgrounds can find acceptance and are permitted to go about their lives peaceably. I take heart that we are a country that opens our doors to people coming from places where such freedom of thought is lacking, to put it mildly.
We live in a culture that takes offense easily and I hope that this letter doesn’t fall into that category. I do not believe the government should represent church views nor be an instrument of the church any more than I believe I ought to be an instrument of my government. I must say, however, that I was shocked to be mocked by the Governor General and I was surprised that my Prime Minister would so firmly deem himself capable of defining truth as to belittle the faith group I am a part of, and I am part of the oldest and most prominent group. Having done some work with First Nations folks here, I was frustrated on their behalf as some of their beliefs were, yet again, being derided by the Canadian government. It seems to me we have been down that road and we have seen where it leads both here in Canada and in many other contexts. It is not a place I wish to go. I can’t help but wonder what some of our most recent Canadians are thinking and feeling.
I am certain that many MPs are hearing from constituents of various beliefs in response to the words spoken last week. I hope and pray (yes pray) that even some atheists would respond to what was said, because my Canada includes many beliefs and none of our most cherished beliefs deserve to be mocked by our politicians. We live in tense times and we must cherish our diversity and the spaces that allow for it, we must bring down walls and brinksmanship.
Regardless of your personal religious beliefs, I would ask you to please stand up and respond to these claims that belittle Canadian diversity. Stand up and say that you can believe what you believe and so can the people you represent. Please stand up to affirm that people of all sorts of beliefs have a place in our country and in your riding and are worthy of respect rather than lampooning. And please stand up to any act of bullying, belittling, or mockery you see, whether at your children’s school, or on parliament hill because there is no place for such behavior in my Canada.
Rev. Christopher Clarke.