I often have scheduling conflicts. This summer was no different. I had to choose between attending the British Columbia Area meetings in Parksville (with the gathering of BC Area churches from all around the region and Dr. Beth Posterski talks) or attending the Baptist World Alliance meetings in Mexico City which were to focus on Religious Freedom and Justice around the world.
I am going to Parksville. I for one am learning the great value of our kinship as Baptists in the West. The issues raised in Mexico City will have our prayers, attention, and action in short order, but freedom and justice coming from scripture and country begin at home.
I was struck by Father Raymond J de Souza’s “one great wish” for Canada on Canada Day in Saturday July 1st 2006 National Post.
Canada needs more religious liberty. Not the purely legal guarantee in the Charter of Rights, but practical, on-the-ground religious liberty. That would mean human rights tribunals throwing out theological disagreements masquerading as human rights violations. It would mean that religiously-based arguments were addressed, rather than ruled out-of-bounds in public policy debate. And it would mean tha the vast machinery of the Canadian state would not insist that religion retreat wherever government advanced in health care, education and social services. Religious Canadians are not a threat to the public order, but a powerful contributor to the common good. That contribution should be welcomed, not feared. It’s good public policy. And it’s their right.
That being said, affiliated Baptist denominations from around the world are meeting to intercede, pray, discuss and plan future advocacy and intervention. There will be dialogue with Mexican government officials and representatives of the Roman Catholic Church regarding the severe persecution of Christians (especially Protestants) in parts of Mexico. Further conversations will take place around the Christian church and country in oppressive regimes around the world. Baptist World Alliance representation at the United Nations, Human Trafficking and the challenge of justice posed in the Micah Project.
There are many places in this culture where religious discrimination takes place. While that discrimination is unjust and wrong it pales compared to whet happens to many Christians around the world (Sudan is only a beginning).
I have included the agenda and introductory material from the meetings and I will update you on the conclusions and process embarked upon from these meetings. I am a member of this commission representing the Baptist Union with the sanction of CBM and our other Canadian partners.
Happy Canada Day!
As an immigrant and a Christian I am deeply thankful to live in this great land.
May we continue to learn in the Union the essential and necessary balance between social justice / reform and sharing of the Good news of relationship with Jesus.