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A Good Counter Argument to Freedom From Religion

02/19/2013 02:55 EST | Updated 04/19/2013 05:12 EDT

"Freedom from religion" is the phrase used by Doug Thomas in his recent Huffington Post blog

"Church and State, It's About Time You Separated."

Also there is a very active group in the United States called "The Freedom From Religion Foundation."

There is a good counter argument to freedom from religion, and I'll make it in a minute.

But first, Doug Thomas makes reference to a fascinating period of Canadian history; the rise and fall of Canada's Lord's Day Act. Michael Wagner's book "Leaving God Behind", tells the story in more detail, but here is a quick summary.

A hundred years ago provincial legislatures made the reasonable assumption that regulating Sunday shopping was appropriate provincial commerce legislation.

However, in 1903 provincial Sunday shopping legislation was struck down by the British high court . It is the reason it was struck down that is so fascinating as an insight into British and Canadian jurisprudence. The British high court ruled that because having Sunday as a day of rest is found in the Bible as part of the 10 Commandments, along with what is clearly the basis for criminal legislation, (ie. "do not steal", "do not murder", "do not bear false witness"), then legislation on Sunday shopping should be considered "criminal" legislation as well.

This meant provincial governments could not legislate in this area because under our constitution, only the federal government has jurisdiction to pass criminal legislation. The federal Liberal government of Sir Wilfred Laurier was then presented with a dilemma, would Laurier reintroduce federal Sunday shopping legislation or not? Sir Wilfred Laurier did reintroduce Sunday shopping federal legislation in 1906, as Canada's Lord's Day Act, and it survived until 1985, when it was struck down by a Charter challenge.

And so the atheist case, that they want our public policy to have nothing to do with verses in the Bible, just becomes a little weaker, when you understand that much of of our good Canadian jurisprudence, is based on Old Testament Bible verses. (And I doubt anyone really wants to do away with our good Canadian laws "do not steal", "do not murder", "do not bear false witness" just so we can have "freedom from religion").

So then what does separation of church and state really mean? Well, it means the principle of denominational freedom and voluntary self-support. That is the government must not fund one denomination with tax dollars (eg. a state church like in England) and all churches must raise their own funds by their own voluntary membership. It also means that the government cannot put an author like Paul Bunyan, in jail for preaching without a "license". (Paul Bunyan wrote the Christian classic "Pilgrim's Progress", which, more than a story, is a quotation and exposition of many great verses in the Bible).

But more than winning a court challenge in 1985, the atheists really won the argument; as evangelical Christians, much of what we believe, such as Sunday as a day of rest and marriage vows, should be voluntary, based on its goodness, and does not require legislation.

We voluntarily support and love our churches, where we build up and encourage each other from the high ideals in the Bible. And reflect together on God's intervention in world history. You know, the nation of Israel, etc. Here is a link to a beautiful song that describes for me, what church in Canada is all about, Mark Schultz, "A Cloud of Witnesses"

Everyone is welcome at an evangelical Christian church, including our homosexual friends. Yes we have homosexual friends and in friendship, we just agree to disagree with each other. They understand we cannot just say "Go ahead" like the NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair, for if we did, we know, if nothing else, we would be culpable, like the NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair, for endangering our friend's health).

As God is our witness, someday it will be known, who really loves and cares for our homosexual friends more, Thomas Mulcair or evangelical Christians.

No church or denomination or atheist group is constantly good or constantly bad, the only constant are the high ideals in the Biblical text, such as "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control" Galatians 5:22

And here then is the good counter argument to freedom from religion. If at least some of these Galatians 5:22 ideals from the Bible are really best, they ought to be incorporated into public policy, otherwise public policy will always be second best.

And as the gospel is our witness, there are no good Canadians or bad Canadians, we are all Canadians, striving together for the common good.