THE DEMISE OF DEMOCRACY

There are many Christian leaders today that would not see democracy as being important for the gospel. I mean after all, the world in which Christianity was born was anything but democratic. Jesus came in to a culture that was under the military occupation of Rome. As a Jew in Israel, He and his disciples had little to no democratic rights.  Caesar ruled the region in a violent, bloody and ruthless manner. Roman crucifixion itself was used as a deterrent; that insubordination in any form would not be tolerated and was punishable by death. Jesus’ trial was a sham and there was was really no ‘earthly’ way He was going to avoid conviction as the powers that be had conspired against Him and were going to make sure that an example would be made of Him. God, brilliantly, just weaved the inevitable into his grand plan. The apostles that carried on His work after Him lived under constant threat of imprisonment or death, and yet, the gospel flourished in the midst of overt persecution. There are dozens of historical examples of how sometimes persecution is actually good for the gospel. China during the Cultural Revolution under Mao Zedong is a good example. The missionaries were expelled, the pastors were imprisoned, the bibles were burned and in those same years the church silently grew from some 50,000 believers to some 50 million.  Today it remains the country where Christianity is growing faster than any nation on earth.

There is nothing inherently biblical about democracy. The bible doesn’t teach it, endorse it or really even mention it. When God was in charge, He used a theocracy (Moses). When the people cried out for a monarchy he gave them one but warned that a king would likely abuse them… which they did. One thing is clear, regardless of the political model, God has little patience for tyranny.

Then Jehoahaz prayed for the LORD’s help, and the LORD heard his prayer. The LORD could see how terribly the king of Aram was oppressing Israel. So the LORD raised up a deliverer to rescue the Israelites from the tyranny of the Arameans. Then Israel lived in safety again as they had in former days. 2 Kings 13:4-5 (NLT)

Our challenge today is that we certainly do not live in any kind of theocracy where God is directing the affairs of man and we won’t until Christ returns to set up His Millennial reign. In the meantime democracy still seems to be our best bet for peace, good government and the harmony of life.  History has proven time and again that once we lose what little democracy we have, we steer headlong into tyranny.  Most of us do not realize how fragile democracy is.  In 1941 at the start of the second world war there were only 11 functioning democracies left in the world.  (Today that number is 25 full democracies and 51 flawed democracies) Europe had fallen into the grip of tyrants like Hitler of Germany, Mussolini of Italy and Franco of Spain to name only a few.  The resulting violence and chaos saw the loss of most civil liberties, immense hardship, destroyed economies and infrastructure and the death of 60 million young men in the space of only 4 years.

The simple definition of democracy is letting the people rule themselves.  By far my favourite quote on the subject is from one of history’s great champions of freedom Thomas Jefferson.

I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them but to inform their discretion.

When the Iron Curtain and Berlin Wall fell in the late 80’s early 90’s it looked like democracy was set to take the world by storm and that a new dawn of peace was going to settle upon the globe. The season was very short lived. There are more tyrants in the world than ever. Russia’s fledgling democracy has already retracted into a one man dictatorship under ‘Czar’ Vladimir Putin.  The former KGB head has cracked down on dissidents, jailed political rivals and clearly has his sights set on restoring Russian to the ‘superpower’ it once was as the former USSR.

Earlier this year Crimea held a referendum to secede from the Ukraine and join Russia instead.  96% voted in favour. Commentators argued whether the vote was legitimate or coerced or what. Almost everybody missed the irony of this story. By voting to join Russia, the Crimeans voted away their democracy in what might end up being the last free vote of their generation.

Let’s bring this closer to home. We are losing democratic freedoms everyday in Canada and most of us don’t even notice. In May of this year Justin Trudeau announced that his party would not allow any pro-life candidates to run in the next federal election. Pro-choicers (as they call themselves) lauded the move as a great progressive step forward for the party. My question is, regardless of one’s view of abortion, how can limiting the religious or moral views of a candidate be progressive? Would that not be by definition regressive, or even oppressive?  Would not disallowing pro-life candidates be unconstitutional in that it would restrict one’s rights of freedom of thought, freedom of expression, freedom of religion and the democratic right to hold political office? Was it not Justin Trudeau’s father Pierre, when he was Prime Minister of Canada, that entrenched those very rights in his Charter of Rights and Freedoms? Ironic isn’t it?

After the announcement Cardinal Thomas Collins, Toronto’s Roman Catholic archbishop, wrote an open letter to Trudeau urging him to reverse his position.  He argued that, “Political authority is not limitless: it does not extend to matters of conscience and religious faith. It does not govern all aspects of life.” He further challenged the Liberal leader,  “Political leaders in our day should not exclude such people of integrity, no matter how challenging they find their views,” he wrote. “I urge you to reconsider your position”

Trudeau responded by saying, “I had an extraordinary example in a father who had deeply, deeply held personal views that were informed by the fact that he went to church every Sunday, read the Bible regularly to us, and raised us very, very religious, very Catholic,” said Trudeau. “But at the same time he had no problem legalizing divorce, decriminalizing homosexuality and moving in ways that recognized the basic rights of the people. He held his personal views very, very strongly. But he understood that as leaders, as political figures, as representatives of a larger community, our utmost responsibility is to stand up for peoples’ rights.”  What a minute, let me get this straight; he was very, very religious, read his bible every day and went to church every week but did not let any of that in any way influence his policy making? I was trying to think of a definition of hypocrisy but it’s  just not coming to me at the moment

There is no question that the Cardinal’s words have fallen on deaf ears, but I still have to give him full marks on a number of levels. What most Canadians do not know is that religious leaders are no longer allowed to publicly oppose the positions of political candidates.  Canada Revenue Agency has been slowly rewriting the rules for religious charities to essentially restrict them from participating in the democratic process. Cardinal Collins was taking a considerable risk by addressing Trudeau’s position directly. For the record, that is not something I would ever do. I wouldn’t even bring it up. I would never criticize the young, inexperienced and gaffe prone Trudeau. If he wants to suspend the fundamental democratic freedoms of his potential candidates, that is clearly none of my business and I need to just keep my big mouth shut. If he wants to smoke pot and encourage other Canadians to do so by legalizing it then that his prerogative. I am not allowed to have an opinion. The demise of democracy is upon us, but my biggest fear is that most of us won’t notice, and those of us who do care are not allowed to speak.

 

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14 Responses to THE DEMISE OF DEMOCRACY

  1. Sheldon Hoffman says:

    Excellent article all except the rant about cannabis, cannabis is a nutritious plant with many amazing benefits to the human body and mind, one of those benefits is a cure for cancer. The least beneficial thing you can do is smoke cannabis.. I am not advocating that we have children smoking it, i am advocating for the right to be able to grow and consume the cannabis plant as i see fit that includes juicing the leafs and buds of the plant,eating the plant, cooking with the plant and extracting the oils out of the plant and eating it.. The benefits of the cannabis plant out weight (by a country mile) the negatives of cannabis…That cannot be said about alcohol and its legal…..

  2. Jeff says:

    “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.” Winston Churchill

  3. Mark Hughes says:

    “It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.”
    Winston Churchill

  4. Steve says:

    I believe Pastor Mark that you are a guy who wants to be filled with God’s Spirit to full measure.
    If we allow Christ to pour out His will in our hearts today, we will see His power work in Church of the Rock and all the other Churches in Winnipeg in a way that will bring politicians and rulers to their knees.
    We can make Winnipeg a place of God’s safety and outpouring of His Spirit if we harken to His voice today.
    God put you in your position Pastor Mark because He trusts you. He wants to do bigger things through you. God bless!

  5. You are off the mark, Mark says:

    1. It was actually Stephen Harper’s Conservatives who gave 15 million to CRA to go after charities and it was also Stephen Harper Conservatives who silenced scientists and religious leaders from speaking out. These two statements were placed in the middle of Cardinal Collins ‘Trudeau bashing’ remarks which may lead readers to believe Justin Trudeau did this. It was Harper who did this.
    2. Cardinal Collins and the Catholic Church have zero credibility when criticizing Trudeau. The Catholic Church still continues to protect pedophiles within its ranks and I refuse to listen to anyone who would condone such sick and evil acts against children. Until they clean up their own act he should just keep his opinion to himself.
    3. Stephen Harper has had several yrs and a majority Gov to change the abortion law, yet he hasn’t! You’re blaming Justin Trudeau for this, very odd how you see this situation Pastor Mark. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has repeatedly said that he has no interest in addressing the issue. “As long as I am prime minister we are not opening the abortion debate,” Mr. Harper said in April 2011. “The government will not bring forward any such legislation, and any such legislation that is brought forward will be defeated as long as I am prime minister.”…. Is this is what you voted for Pastor Mark???
    4. When Conservative backbencher Stephen Woodworth submitted a private members bill to try to reopen the debate, the Conservatives and Stephen Harper voted it down but somehow this is Justin Trudeau’s fault. What a joke!
    5. What a misleading blog this is. As a Veteran I have seen good, bad and lack of democracy during my tours around the world and I have to say that the Harper Conservatives have harmed Canada in many ways. I haven’t even addressed the issues I have had as a Veteran!
    6. I do not understand how they are supposed to be the champions of the Christian community The Conservatives will say anything to get your vote then do the opposite. .. As for ‘Pot’, The Conservatives plan to soften its policies in the near future to secure votes, wait for it..

    • Jim says:

      At least Mr Harper is from the west, and in my opinion is a very honest person..he tried to change to senate, and eventually will to make those scoundrels elected and accountable, but the status quo is difficult to mess with..in the past add up all the lawyers from Quebec we have had running the country and look at the corruption and scandals which happened..Mr Harper and his government are a breath of fresh air in Canadian politics..God bless you!

  6. Jim says:

    Back around 1996 when the Liberals were pushing a bill in the House of Commons supporting homosexuality, and to make it a hate crime to say anything negative about it, they cleverly put it in the middle of an omnibus bill which included visible minorities etc..As I had written submissions on the evils of homosexuality and included medical facts on this perverted disease causing act..this struck a nerve from Mr Reg Alcock Winnipeg south MP..who sent me a letter saying they were committed to their course of action and GET THIS “anyone who was against this did not belong in Canadian society”…how’s that for a kick in the behind? Would never think of voting for that party or the NDP who have referred to this as the “post Christian era” So doesn’t leave much alternative does it? It proves we never did have a real democratic government but a “parliamentary dictatorship” in which the PM controls everything and everyone…God bless us all!

  7. Jordan Baribeau says:

    It all depends on how you define “democratic”. Is First-Past-The-Post democratic? Is representative government democratic? Is the Party system as is democratic? Is a given Parliamentary system democratic? I think I’ve made my point. Most people in Parliamentary systems are willing to put up with a party system which is not directly managed or controlled directly by voters. Sure there are HUGE concerns and debates within party politics to be had, hence this article but it’s a very difficult argument to state that it’s somehow attached to the demise of a given democracy. In fact, a democrat would respond “start your own party then”.

    Oh and the reference to protecting one’s right of speech or religion is based on the constitution and the ‘living tree’ theory of Canada’s constitutional framework. In fact, the constitution and more still the Charter is not very democratic.

  8. Terry Coish says:

    I enjoyed reading your blog, it is so true we are loosing our rights and freedoms, most people don’t see it.

    Keep on writing!

    Terry

  9. Andy Bernard says:

    Let me be as brief as I can: There is ample support for the democratic form of government ( by the people for the people and of the people) in the Christian Bible. the exercise of Freedom is foundational to being human. To be human is to be free to be responsible including a corporate responsibility to govern ourselves in a civilized manner. We get what we choose; for better or worse. Consider that if we are not free to choose then how can we be held responsible. If we except that life is but a series of choices imposed upon us from past or present (Hopeless) then where is the will and desire to change? We then become worse than animals and it truly is a battle in “the survival of the fittest”. A descent into HELL on earth.

    However: If we except that man was made to exercise a free will then we must except that the realization of the full potential of humankind as risky as it may be is in a free and open society. Fundamental to the GOOD NEWS of the gospel is that Christ came to set us FREE. Free to be all we were made to be. Freedom to be responsible for decisions made and actions taken. BUT: FREE from what? and FREE to become?

  10. joe blow says:

    in a sense,one’s own free will is abolished when the soul has become a free for all desolation site.And to put the blame on the heads of an institution,is an act of treason in itself and the gnawings of the very darkest in essence.To complain about what is our own jobs to portray unto our leaders,is in a very sad state of affairs indeed of which we have not a basis of knowledge of.And at the very core of Catholicism is an invalid sacriligious unholy spew unto itself.They are trying the best and only have what portrayal in which they have to work with,and that’s where the muppetry-Ends.Hate crimes are indeed wrong and in this world,when one is not following the path of light then they can find themselves in opressive desperate situations out of their own knowledge of control and nothing manmade will change that hopeless situation but seperating from it,to use religion in an anti semitist falsehood rant of delusionary purpose by saying to this person that it is wrong for them to not stick it out in a marriage is pure delusion unto itself.They can hold out for as long as they can,but to brainwash a very persons own morales leads them to in very essence doubt themselves,even in the bible it mentions such cases where it becomes devoid on-Both ends.You can’t ever hope to control people in their paths,and to step in front of that.to tout one’s own existence is a very sheltered veiwpoint,and an invasion of human right’s,so knock off the ranting and raving-because that is not what god is about and there are bigger important issues on the plate ok-google it..that are far from being organized.Stop the tyrannic attitudes that steer regular people away from actual -Logic.There are things out there that actually matter that actually need real time help.Not only is the ecosystem taxed right now,but also the moral structure and tolerance of -Fools.

    • joe blow says:

      there is one rib that god made for one person,and unless they can here god,then their not gonna hear the real truth,in time.
      And to block free speach is an invasion unto the truth,so what does the holy spirit say?

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