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Christians and the New World Order

 Talk by Hon. David Kilgour, MP Edmonton Southeast & Secretary of State (Asia-Pacific) 
The Military Christian Fellowship of Canada Breakfast
Army Officer’s Mess Somerset Street West
Ottawa, Ontario, April 4, 2003

Sisters and brothers in Christ.  Thank you General Lashkevich.

I am honoured to be here to encourage you all in your faith journeys.  You encourage Deborah Grey and myself in our own walks.  I would be happy to hear from any of you by e-mail (

Like other faiths, Christianity is experiencing some favourable tectonic shifts around our shrinking planet.   The power of religions generally to move people in many- if not all-parts of the Earth is increasing briskly these days, partly no doubt because of the new uncertainties created post September 11th. A host of other philosophies and political ideologies - all the “isms”, if you like - are now unable to motivate large numbers of men and women for long.

Beginning in the Southern hemisphere, Christianity is moving towards a belief system that is said to be conservative in contrast to the liberalism of the faiths of many Christians in the North, both in a theological and ethical sense. This movement is rapidly spreading in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Phillip Jenkins, author of The Next Christendom, asserts that by 2025 about half of the world’s Christians will live in Africa and Latin America, and another 17 percent in Asia.

Christians in the Public Square

A poll conducted last year by Ipsos - Reid and the Globe and Mail concluded that two - thirds of Canadians hold that religious faith is a “very important” feature in their lives.  It is hardly surprising that many elected persons across Canada align themselves with our various faith communities. If asked how their own faith affects their daily work, however, some of them might reply truthfully: "not much".

The nominal believer phenomenon is both a challenge and an opportunity.  A challenge because there are not many spheres in human life where Jesus Christ does not say “mine”; an opportunity because there is a great need for committed believers from our faith in every walk of life.

Christians everywhere struggle with a fundamental question: “How does one live in this world, but maintain one’s convictions that God loves all of us?” At times, the temptation is to seclude ourselves. The UN’s Educational, Scientific, and Cultural organization (UNESCO) recently noted, “elective affinities and processes of association on ethnic or religious grounds are proliferating.  The weight of uncertainty is leading increasingly to a falling back on small groups.” 

Instead of isolation, I think we Christians should live the values of hope, compassion, forgiveness, honesty and love with real confidence.  Should we not also seek to build strong relationships with members of other faith communities and a deeper level of respect for persons of different languages and cultures. No-one needs to sacrifice beliefs in this process; instead, we can all see it as an opportunity to enrich our faiths. People with whom we rub shoulders ought to see in us God’s message of kindness and unconditional love for humankind.

Cet enrichissement de la foi est également nécessaire dans la sphère publique.  Des politiciens adeptes de différentes religions peuvent aider en agissant comme un frein aux différentes forces telles que l’intolérance, l’incompréhension et la violence, qui menacent quotidiennement à envahir nos civilisations.

My own inclination is to avoid mixing church and state. For example, I think Christians should avoid saying: "My faith’s view of issue X must be Y" on issues where it’s difficult to say with real confidence what Jesus himself would say today.  On some issues - "ethnic cleansing", child pornography, slavery and environment degradation come readily to mind – Christians, like believers of other faiths, can be more assertive.  John Montgomery, the Christian apologist, puts it this way: “ We must not run from government as an evil, but must realize that we have a holy responsibility to prevent evil and promote the good.”

Faith Group Contributions to Canada

The promotion of harmony and good will is a common thread in all religions and there is no clash of civilizations among true believers.  Our churches, synagogues, mosques, pagodas and gurdwaras have contributed much to the development of Canada.  Many registered charities, hospitals and universities across the land were created by faith communities and are operated by them. C.S. Lewis once said: “I have discovered that the people who believe most strongly in the next life do the most good in the present one.” 

This is evident among the 70,000 registered charities across Canada, of which more than 40% are faith-based. Regular participants in religious services evidently account for about half of all hours volunteered yearly across the country. Those who attend regularly provide 42% of the donations received through direct giving to non-religious charities. In short, women, men and young people who maintain a spiritual sense of themselves contribute much to communities across Canada and beyond it

Roman Catholics

Catholics have cared for many of our citizens, educated our children, and improved the lives of many for centuries. Today, the denomination represents about half of our population.

Catholics continue to influence our educational systems in significant ways. There are currently 19 Catholic universities and colleges across Canada. Many of our public universities were founded as Catholic institutions, including St. Francis Xavier, St. Mary's, and Laval University. Catholics are active in policy development on school boards across Canada. In my own province of Alberta, Catholic school systems operate alongside public ones.

Plusieurs centres de santé à travers le Canada sont catholiques.  L’hôpital Saint Michel à Toronto, par exemple, a été fondé en 1892 par les Sœurs de Saint-Joseph.  L’hôpital des sœurs grises d’Edmonton Sud-est est un centre parmi plusieurs qui a été construit récemment.


Protestants constitute Canada's second largest Christian grouping, accounting for about 36% of our population.  Their denominations contribute much, for example in the field of higher education. Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, for one, was founded by what is now the Presbyterian Church. The University of Toronto was founded by John Strachan, the first Anglican bishop of the city. Egerton Ryerson, a Methodist who began preaching in the 1820's, was later appointed superintendent of education for what is now Ontario. His work led to its School Act (1871), which created universal education and became a model for much of English-speaking Canada.

Protestants are active in numerous service organizations. The Young Men's And Young Women's Christian Associations ( YMCA and YWCA), for example, began as institutions for Christians, but grew into ones open to persons of all ages and faiths. Today, many provide recreational facilities, housing for the homeless, children's summer camps, and employment programs. An estimated 1.5 million Canadians participate in and benefit from YMCA programs and services annually, with about 30,000 volunteers donating a million hours of their time yearly in support.  


Judaism is also a major contributor to the Canadian mosaic; its members have worked to educate and to help Canadians of all cultural backgrounds and to combat the scourge of racism in Canada.  B’Nai Brith has been an active charity and human rights body in Canada since 1875. The Canadian Jewish Congress has long worked to help enlarge Canada's legal and social frameworks to make us a more inclusive society. Examples include advocating better and more education and social policies. Mt. Sinai hospital in Toronto and Montreal’s Jewish General Hospital accept patients and employees from all religious backgrounds.


Although relatively young among faith communities, Muslims have already contributed much to nation building. In Edmonton, North America's first mosque was built in 1938. Islam is one of our fastest growing religions, with a community that already numbers approximately about 700,000 members. The public services of members in Ottawa alone include hospital visits to patients wishing visits of any or no faith and summer camps for children. Each mosque members are expected to donate 2 ½ % of their net salary to the poor and orphans.


Sikhs have contributed much as well. Now almost 400,000 in numbers, there are more than 100 gurdwaras across Canada. Many thousands of Sikh volunteers work in food banks, organise blood drives, and contribute to the well being of local communities.  Time prevents mentioning many other faith groups and their contributions. 

Personal Impact

As Christians we must continue to be active participants in the public square. Our lives must be a constant reminder of God’s message of kindness and unconditional love for humankind. We must also dispel any remaining myths of intolerance. The American pollster, George Gallup, demonstrated years ago that practising Christians were more accepting of other creeds and philosophies than non-believers. The Canadian researcher Reg Bibby concludes that teenagers who attend church services regularly "are considered more likely than teens who never attend services to place a higher value on such traits as honesty, forgiveness, concern for others, politeness and generosity". These are traits that are needed in schools, workplaces and across the private and public realms.

As Christians, there is plenty for us to do in Canada—both with our own personal faith and in constructive relationship with other faith groups and each individual we encounter. In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “that is why my devotion to Truth has draw me into the field of politics, and I can say without the slightest hesitation, and yet in all humility, that those who say that religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religions means.”

Indeed, let me end this talk with a short tribute to Deborah Grey, whose Christian faith has been her anchor throughout her time as a highly - respected MP since 1989.  Never have I heard her deny her faith for any political advantage.  We may not agree on particular issues, but she is always an inspiration as a fellow believer.  She encourages everyone she meets with their faith as you will shortly hear.  She would quite literally give you the leather jacket off her motorcycle.  It is an honour to serve with her in the House of Commons- and we’ll miss you greatly, Deb, when you leave.

Thank you all and God bless.

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