Op-Ed by contributor Sebastian Barkovic
So a Rabbi, a Priest, and an Imam claim religious persecution. No, wait, that’s Nanaimo-Alberni MP, James Lunney.
Lunney has been in the news lately, not for shaking hands or kissing babies, but for reasons related to his religion. As a student of politics, and a student of religion, this interests me quite a bit. What troubles me is that I don’t feel like Lunney shares the same academic convictions I do. His choices as of late regarding politics and religion just don’t add up.
Before we go any further, let me give you some background information. A month ago he decided to denounce evolution by tweeting “jst stop calling #evolution fact! Bynd realm of current science 2 observe or reprod origins” (sic). Syntax not withstanding, that’s fair enough—it is called the theory of evolution, after all.
— James Lunney, MP (@jameslunneymp) February 28, 2015
Back to present times, and you will find that Mr. Lunney has given a notice of resignation from the Conservative Caucus in defense of his beliefs, and is sitting as an independent in Parliament. He said he resigned because there are, “deliberate attempts to suppress a Christian world-view from professional and economic opportunity in law, medicine, and academia.” Call me crazy, but I don’t think Lunney has any ground to stand on. Here’s why.
First, Lunney must have mistakenly used the words “world-view.” If this wasn’t a typo (which I really hope it was) then it’s a bigger mistake for two reasons.
1) Christians represent roughly 2.2 billion people on earth. Muslims represent 1.8 billion, and Hindus represent 1.1 billion. Christians are hardly a clear majority, especially since there are many other spiritual groups to consider. So if 31 percent is the new 100 percent (or even 51 percent), then math must have plagued young Lunney decades ago.
2) There are many schools of thought when it comes to evolution believed by Christians. One that comes to mind is “Theistic Evolution,” which is an ideology that many Christians follow. They believe in evolution as guided by the hand of God. It would seem that Lunney is claiming to be the authority on Christian belief, and that other Christians are wrong if they believe in any form of evolution.
Lunney also said in his resignation letter that, “freedom of religion is foundational to democracy; if we don’t get that right, it always leads to persecution.” Apparently Mr. Lunney doesn’t understand the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Section 2 of The Charter guarantees “freedom of religion,” both for him, and Canadians who are not him. The only reasonable conclusion is that “freedom,” in Lunney’s eyes, means freedom for his perception of Christianity, and the freedom to tell other people their religions are wrong. Mr. Lunney is entitled to his beliefs, but those rights end when they encroach on the rights of other people. Sound reasonable?
As a politician, and a four-term MP, Lunney should know that we live in a rapidly growing secular society. He should also know that evolution is not new to 2015, and neither are other religions. If he thinks he is the first one to bear the cross of religious persecution, then he should peruse the history books and read about the Jews and Catholics, for example. In case you are reading this, Mr. Lunney, let me give you a brief history lesson: The Jews were given quotas limiting their attendance from ivy league schools because, as those schools put it, they didn’t want to infect their student body with the Jewish religion. The Catholics were violently protested against in 1806 by the Protestants who claimed that there were satanic rituals taking place in their church. This is what we now refer to as Christmas Mass. So, religious prosecution—still want to lead with that, Mr. Lunney?
He should note that there will be backlash no matter what he says. He’s in politics. Stephen Harper could make a knock-knock joke, and people would grab their pitchforks. Lunney should know by now that media backlash isn’t “religious persecution,” it’s people telling Mr. Lunney how they feel, just like he decided to tell them. Funny how democracy works, Lunney; one raises a point, another can raise one too. I’m sorry if that’s an inconvenience, but there are a few choices for you.
1) Get with the program that the rest of us recognize Canada as a “free country.”
2) Leave politics, and stick to conversations at church socials.
I suppose you will be going with the latter.
If I haven’t already made it clear that I am quite aggravated, then let me make a point of saying so. What irritates me more than his uninformed resignation letter on the grounds of religion is his resignation letter in general. Mr. Lunney is a civil servant; that means he represents Nanaimo-Alberni constituents in Parliament. His resignation was selfish, and doesn’t represent that of his constituents, like he was elected to do. If you are voted into Parliament, you stay there because people took their time to vote for you; they couldn’t care less about your claims of religious prosecution. Resignations from caucus should force a by-election, but seeing as we are six months from election day it would make little difference. Lunney has chosen to remain in his seat as an Independent, so we’ll see where the cards fall in November.
Anecdotally, my sister and I played Monopoly when we were younger. She was seven, I was 12. I don’t have enough fingers to count the amount of times she got angry, flipped the board, and rage-quit claiming the game was rigged. Let me say that again: my sister was seven. Lunney is a middle-aged man that quit politics on the same grounds that my sister flipped the Monopoly board on: selfishness, and bigotry.
Lunney has flipped the board of Politics, and sits alone where he respectfully should be.