Monday, May 1, 2017


Did a bit of a double take this week when I got my voters card. On first reading it appeared that our church would be open for advance voting during Sunday morning service.  On closer examination, I discovered the advance poll at SPPC was for Friday and Saturday only.  Sunday voters had to go to the Saanich Fairgrounds.
Still, the idea of voting for who would form the next provincial government while attending a worship service is intriguing.  In our modern world, church and state are completely separated and any suggestion that they should overlap is vigorously opposed.  It wasn't always so.  In the first century various Roman emperors made a determined effort to stamp out the Christian church.  Constantine, in the 4th century ended the persecution of Christians and invoked a kind of religious tolerance during his reign, but Christianity was the state religion.
       During the Middle Ages, church and state were fused in Europe as the Holy Roman Empire. After the Reformation, religious strife raged across Europe in the Thirty Years War, as princes and small states tried to use the power of religion to achieve their temporal aims of conquest.  When Henry VIII broke with the Roman Catholic Church in 1534 in order to obtain a divorce, he established the Church of England as a state religion, with himself as it's "Supreme Governor" -- a title still carried by the English monarchy today-- and setting off an era of violent religious persecution in England.  Religious strife, supported by the state, continued to plague Europe for centuries.  Huguenots, Puritans, Anabaptists and Doukhobors , fled their homelands to begin new colonies in North America where they hoped to be free to practice their faith without fear of the government.   Thus, in Canada and the United States, there is no state religion.  The state is deemed to have no place in the practice of faith and the church is unrecognized in the halls of government.
        The history of religious intolerance justifies the separation of government and religion, but like many philosophies, it is impossible to implement in its entirety.  Governments are made up of human beings, some with deeply held religious beliefs and some who vehemently deny God.  To suggest that their faith, or lack of it, will not influence their decisions is to disregard human nature.  Many great thinkers throughout history have tried to break down the various aspects of being human between mind, body and spirit, only to find the exercise futile.  The mind lives in the body and is therefore influenced by the experience of the body.  The soul, that part of us that appreciates beauty, for example, lives in both the mind and the body.  We need the body to hear music, we need the mind to appreciate it's technical wizardry, and we need the spirit to respond to its beauty.  We cannot compartmentalize our moral (religious) beliefs and pretend they do not influence our judgement on secular matters.  Even if such a thing were possible, would we wish a totally amoral government? One whose decisions are based strictly on practicality with no ethical foundation? Might as well use a computer program to weigh up the pros and cons on any issue and spit out a decision based on the numbers.
      Maybe voting during a church service is not so far-fetched after all.  The Bible is clear on our duty to participate in civic matters. 1Timothy 2:1-4 exhorts the believer to pray for the leaders of society.  1 Peter 2: 13-15 instructs us to submit to human authorities.  God even instructs the Jews in exile in Babylonia to "seek the peace and prosperity of the city." Jeremiah 29:4-9.
I hope you all exercise your vote, whether in the early polls or on voting day, May 9, 2017.

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