Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Stilwell's Loss Points To Apathy Of Christian Vote

In their April newsletter, Campaign Life Coalition reports a disturbing story on the failure to nominate an outstanding pro-life politician in British Columbia.

Heather Stilwell, a pro-life, pro-family Surrey school board trustee and former leader of the CHP, lost in a dirty and dubious Conservative nomination meeting in Newton-North Delta on March 3. Despite help from Campaign Life Coalition that included a telephone message to supporters in the riding, Stilwell finished a distant third because the front-runners tapped into their Sikh communities and signed up more than 10,000 new members. But as Stilwell was able to expose, there were numerous irregularities in sign ups by former Liberal Paul Brar, one of the candidates in the running.

Stilwell’s campaign called hundreds of the newly signed up members and talked to just 155 of them. Of that number, just 25 knew they had been signed up as members of the Conservative Party of Canada. Brar didn’t get out the vote and he didn’t win – perhaps, so it seems, because many of his sign-ups had no idea they were members of the party. Sandeep Pandher, who has worked in Ottawa for several Liberal MPs, won the Conservative nomination. He will face Liberal MP Sukh Dhaliwal in the general election.

We congratulate Stilwell whose courage and integrity led her to stand for the nomination, to give pro-life and pro-family issues a fair hearing, to fight for the right to contest the nomination even after the party refused to sign her nomination papers, and then for highlighting the problems with the membership lists. And while she didn’t win, it is important to note that the candidate who signed up thousands didn’t either. Sometimes pro-life and pro-family voters might convince themselves it is not worth showing up for a nomination battle because our opponents seem to have us outnumbered. Sometimes, though, looks can be deceiving.

If a solid pro-life, pro-family candidate with impeccable credentials like Heather Stilwell doesn’t have the support of like-minded Canadians, the uphill battle we fight is tilted even further against us.

If this story does not illustrate the failure of the pro-life movement to affect the Christian vote, it would be difficult to imagine a better example. If pro-life leaders do not engage with Church leaders on a significantly different basis and promote action by Christians in defense of the unborn, the pro-life cause is certain to be lost in Canada.

Where were the Christians in Heather Stilwell’s riding? Why were they not able to be activated and convinced, on Christian grounds, of their duties and responsibilities before God to support a well qualified candidate such as Stilwell? If Christian leaders in the area have lost sight of the urgency of such support and have failed to teach their people, why were seasoned pro-lifers not able to challenge them in sufficient measure to ensure success for Stilwell? Perhaps Church leaders have been sidetracked or blindsided in some way by “vain philosophies,” various trends in human thinking, such as the idea that the only hope for Canada is the “pure” Gospel and evangelism, not “pro-life politics.” If so, they need to be reached with a sound and truly Christian corrective through direct and organized contact.

These are hard questions which must be answered. Are we afraid to answer them? Are we saying it cannot be done? Are we saying that Christians cannot be successfully engaged and recruited on this fundamental issue through appeals and cooperation with their Christian leaders? If our reply is essentially that they cannot, are we suggesting that Church leaders in Canada cannot be depended upon to establish spiritual and moral direction for this nation and that in some manner pro-life activism is the preferred route to accomplish this goal?

But if we assume that pro-life efforts hold any prospect for changing the Canadian status quo on abortion, it must surely be obvious that support must come first from Canada’s moral high ground, which is Christians. It simply will not do to maintain that pro-lifers waste their time with Church leadership [with the exception of the vocal pro-life church leaders] who have a sad record of disappointing the expectations of those with traditional Christian views on life and family.

Again, are pro-lifers saying rather that attention and efforts need to be placed on affecting the mindset of average Canadians in the issue of unborn human rights? If so, this seems to me to be ludicrous. A campaign to properly inform the consciences of the larger Canadian population [i.e. pro-life “evangelization”] is a far weightier and more ambitious project than that of affecting Church leaders, which, it seems, pro-lifers have admitted is essentially impossible, or at least beyond their capacity.

So isn’t it time pro-lifers woke up to this reality and started to formulate a different strategy? It seems obvious to me that what has been overlooked in this current emphasis of the pro-life movement is the very nature of God’s help to lift mankind from his sinfulness and wretchedness. Perhaps the nature of help that I refer to may be overlooked these days by the majority of Church leaders as well but until it is rediscovered and acknowledged by BOTH Christians and pro-lifers, the killing of unborn children, the breakdown of the family, the spectre of a future euthanasia holocaust, and the further descent of Canada into its abyss, will inevitably continue.

The help I refer to is the Church. How can pro-lifers, especially pro-life Christians, conceive of accomplishing anything for the unborn within Canada by largely ignoring and short circuiting, least of all usurping, the teaching and preaching authority of the Church and by extension, the leaders of the Church? After all, isn't that really what got Canadian society in the mess which it finds itself today? Maybe this is strong medicine for pro-life leaders to accept but I believe they have no choice but to find a merging mechanism with Church leaders in their mission and assist them in the defense of the unborn wherever they are able to secure their trust and persuade them of the integrity of their crusade.

Our work as pro-lifers in many cases might need to take a drastic turn in direction, to one of much greater humility, appeal, entreaty, and solidarity with Church leaders. A true and fully amenable partnership is essential. No doubt there exist some pro-life organizations that already possess this vision and that have adopted this humble posture when dealing with church leadership. They are to be commended and their example followed, for the sake of Canada’s unborn children.

At least that’s my opinion. And it’s the vision that drives Vote Life, Canada!

The alternative seems rather frightful. Church leaders are failing to defend truth and their God, and to form the morality of their nation. They are likewise failing to call their people to repentance, and nothing can be done about it.


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