To what extent can we use the strength of our faith in Jesus Christ to proclaim with our siblings across faith traditions that it remains important that ALL people are treated with respect and dignity.
By Rev. Chris Brouillard-Coyle
There is a Provincial Election on the horizon. This will become increasingly apparent as signs, media coverage, promotional materials, and even visits to our homes invade our day to day lives.
As disruptive as all this activity can feel at times, there is incredible privilege and responsibility in our participation in the electoral process. We can influence decision-makers for several years simply through our willingness to engage in conversation and mark an ‘x’ beside a name.
There is incredible privilege and responsibility in our participation in the electoral process. To what extent is this participation influenced by our faith?
When we hear about the commitments and promises made during debates, through media coverage, on commercials, and at our door, do we consider the extent to which these statements align with our responsibilities as those who follow The Way of Jesus Christ? Can we see possibilities that respect the dignity of every human being? Are there proposals which respond to human need with loving service? Are there options which transform unjust structures of society, challenge violence of every kind, and seek peace and reconciliation? What commitments exist to safeguard the integrity of God’s creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth?
The suggestion here is not to somehow impose our Christian faith onto the lives of Ontarians. Rather, it is the invitation to consider how our faith influences our individual engagement in the electoral process. For example, in past elections, Social and Ecological Justice Huron has encouraged churches to post signs to “Vote for a Poverty Free Ontario”. Some took offence to this suggestion, believing it to be an effort to influence voting patterns towards a particular party. No party is named by these signs nor was any party named in the supporting materials distributed through the committee. What does it say about our thought process when we can recognize platforms that address poverty, and yet take offence at the suggestion that these should be supported? How does this reaction align with our faith?
The truth is many religious traditions throughout the world have as a basic tenant the ideal to do unto others as you would have them do to you. Thus, to some extent, every person of faith could ask themselves if there are there are individuals in this province with whom we would NOT want to change places?
Would we, for example, be content with the proposed minimum wage? Do we believe that we could live comfortably on the $15/hour minimum that came into play this year? Would we be content to have our disabled child cared for by someone who isn’t trained to administer medications and provide toileting care? Would we trade places with those who are doing their best to help seniors in understaffed and underpaid nursing homes? Are we willing to shoulder the consequences of environmental degradation being passed along to future generations? What would we do if we needed housing right now and didn’t have sufficient financial resources?
How we engage in this process says something about what we are willing to support in this province. Where we place our ‘x’ on voting day tells the government what we are willing to tolerate. We can send a message of complicity, allowing the government to continue to ignore some social problems and leave some people vulnerable, or we can send the message that we want the government to pursue policies that affirm the wellbeing of ALL people and creation with a particular focus on those most marginalized. Which of these approaches fits best with our understanding of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ?
How will we utilize this opportunity this time? What will we do to hold policy makers accountable for showing love for all our neighbours? To what extent can we use the strength of our faith in Jesus Christ to proclaim with our siblings across faith traditions that it remains important that ALL people are treated with respect and dignity.
As you prepare to engage in your civic duty, consider offering this prayer: Lord, keep this nation under your care. Bless the leaders of our land, that we may be a people at peace among ourselves and a blessing to other nations of the earth. Help us elect trustworthy leaders, contribute to wise decisions for the general welfare, and thus serve you faithfully in our generation to the honour of your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (BAS p. 678)
Rev. Chris Brouillard-Coyle is a tri-chair of SEJH and a tri-chair of Justice League of Huron.
(Illustration: Dan Dennis/Unsplash)