Unlike our neighbor to the South, Canada has no official separation of Church and State. But that didn’t stop the eyebrows raised in a few quarters when on Canada Day in 2014 our Prime Minister mentioned God in a tweet. Twice.
“God bless us all, and God keep our true north strong and free,” he wrote.
“Please do not include God in Government,” one person tweeted back. Another tweeted, “The difference between God and Canada is that one of them exists and deserves to be celebrated.” And one person urged, “Please try to keep your favourite gods to yourself. We have enough crazies invoking imaginary f(r)iends already.”
I didn’t see our Prime Minister’s tweet until later. If I had (and if I made a practice of tweeting) I may have tweeted back. Something like, “God has blessed, and continues to bless Canada. Most of us aren’t paying attention.”
A growing tide of vigilant atheism sweeps North America. It doesn’t frighten me or surprise me, but it does sadden me. History books reveal what happens when nations, like Pinocchio of fairy tale fame, try to separate from God. God, like Geppetto, Pinocchio’s maker, cannot be forgotten, banished, left out, ignored or destroyed. We may try, but when we use the freedom our Creator gave us to walk away, nations, like the storybook puppet, eventually face the consequence: a downward cycle of depletion, strife and loss. Not always quickly, but always inevitably.
Something else happens, too. Historically, the more tightly governments restrict expressions and practices of faith, the greater the attraction to that faith, driving people to practice it more devoutly, even in secret. Ironically, attempts by governments to suppress faith in God have served as the catalyst for some of the world’s largest renewals of faith. The underground church in Communist China is perhaps the best example of that.
In the Dr. Zeuss book, “Horton Hears a Who,” an elephant, Horton, becomes convinced that an entire world of beings live on a barely visible speck. Mocked by everyone else in the forest, he risks his life to preserve the speck which, meanwhile, faces its own crisis – only one person believes in Horton. I won’t spoil the story – except to say that belief and action save the day, the speck, and the elephant.
Almost eight billion of us live on our speck now, each of us created with an unbreakable connection to God. Each of us a part of his plan, and every one of us dearly loved.
I opened my Bible and found a treasure this morning. “Let God grant us grace and bless us; let God make his face shine on us, so that your (His) way becomes known on earth, so that your (His)salvation becomes known among all the nations.” Psalm 67: 1-2 CEB
Like our Prime Minister’s tweet, that passage makes two mentions of God. I’ve made it my prayer for our beloved country. God bless Canada -- even when Canada Day celebrations are long over. God keep us strong. And may God’s ways become known.
Kathleen's words have found homes in hearts and media outlets worldwide. Her current work as a full-time communication and constituency assistant to a Member of Parliament provides a unique perspective on the crucial roles played by Parliamentarians.
This Sunny Side Up column was previously published in various Western newspapers.