As a Christian, city council is ‘my politics’ as well

The Editor, Re: “Please keep your religion out of my politics,” the Now column, Dec. 11.

I was saddened to read Adrian MacNair’s opinion column. As a Christian and an active participant in the community and political process, and a voter in the recent election, I would like to think of council, and all realms of politics in this great city, as “my politics” as well.

I was saddened to hear of his feelings of discomfort as an atheist during the public prayer offered to a God that he does not believe in.

I will be the first to acknowledge that Christians and members of many other faith groups have failed at times to be sensitive to those having other views. I am truly sorry for that, as we are called to love our neighbours and we have not always done that very well. We as Christians have a lot to learn when it comes to participating in this pluralistic culture that we live in together with people who believe in other Gods or who believe in no God.

It is certainly not the same as it once was. Many of the beliefs and practices that flow from our Christian faith and that were once seen as normative (prayer in council chambers, for example) are no longer givens, and it is truly difficult for many of us to adjust to this change.

But as we adjust we will continue always to believe in a supreme being and it will always be our mandate and in our nature to pray to God for those who lead us.

I do not think it unreasonable that there be a short and heartfelt public prayer lifting up our elected representatives to God. The writer expressed his feelings of awkwardness during that public prayer. I can attest to many similar feelings of awkwardness in situations where my Christian faith is derided and ridiculed or, if he has his way, removed entirely from the public sphere.

We are challenged today as Christians to “embrace diversity,” and I think that is a fair challenge. But truly embracing diversity must, by definition, be awkward for everyone, because it requires all of us, not just people of faith, to embrace and be respectful of those who believe or behave in a way that we do not agree with.

I can’t help but think that we as Christians would be better able to embrace diversity if we, too – even with our awkward and offensive beliefs and practices – were not marginalized but were also welcomed, with an embrace, to actively participate in the public sphere.

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