Scheer misses mark on Christchurch shooting

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Scheer misses mark on Christchurch shooting

Reverend Bill Blaikie weighs in:


Analysis of Scheer's first statement tended to focus on what he had not said rather than on what he had actually said. The quote of what he did say the first time was:

"Freedom has come under attack in New Zealand as peaceful worshippers were targeted in a despicable act of evil. All people must be able to practice their faith freely and without fear."

A variety of motives or beliefs have been attributed to Scheer for his glaring omission of any reference to the Muslim victims. I want to suggest that however true or not these may be, there is an important insight into Scheer's worldview contained in what he did say.

In emphasizing the word "freedom" and the need for "all people to be able to practice their faith freely and without fear," Scheer revealed that his default position on this -- and, I would argue, on other issues as well -- is the perspective of those Canadian Christians who feel that they are under siege by the dominant culture and that freedom of religion, as they understand it, is under attack. The conscious or unconscious attempt by Scheer to cram the Christchurch attack into one of the favourite narratives of his religious and political universe should not go unnoticed, and tells us just how important this perspective is to how he interprets the world around him.

When I was a theology student in Toronto 45 years ago, I recall a remark made at a lecture I attended by the late Gregory Baum, a prominent Roman-Catholic theologian. He told us then that the dividing line between Christians no longer ran between the denominations. Instead, it ran between those Christians who saw the demise of Christendom and welcomed it, or at least accepted it, as an opportunity for new forms of faithfulness to emerge, and those who saw the demise of Christendom and were determined to resist that demise, or indeed, restore Christendom to its former glories. This would have been just a few years before the full-scale emergence of the religious right in America, which certainly conformed, either genuinely or in some cases for purely tactical political reasons, to Baum's analysis.


In any event, it is clear that the Conservatives under Scheer have yet to reconcile their lament for the demise of Christendom with the reality of a secular, pluralistic, multicultural and diverse Canada. In the struggle for resolution to their problem, Canadians of other faith traditions are sometimes allies on some questions of religious freedom, and sometimes problematic insofar as they contribute to the threatening diversity. The real danger, already realized, is that to their shame, the Conservatives have yielded to the temptation to attract and even court unsavoury elements within Canadian society who hear dog whistles, intended or otherwise, in what they have to say.