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Not All Flags Are Created Equal

Web posted on June 04, 2017

Last Wednesday's edition of The Record announced that all Waterloo Region public schools will fly the "pride" flag throughout June to mark "Pride Month". The Record quotes Board rep Nick Manning as saying that the Board wants to ensure that "public schools remain a welcoming place for everyone."

"Welcoming" - and also "safe" - are indeed what schools should be. Every person in a civil society, including those we disagree with, should be able to conduct his or her life without giving or receiving unkindness or abuse. But Waterloo Region DSB's "Pride Month" decision is hypocritical. Which makes it also unkind and abusive.

This is the same school board that decided the Gideons could no longer distribute New Testaments in the schools. The "Pride Month" flag proclaims a particular value system to all and sundry, including those who find it offensive. The Gideons, on the other hand, who also have a lawful value system to proclaim, sought to avoid giving offense by distributing their Testaments only to students who, with parental permission, would have requested them. But for the Waterloo Board, even that wasn't good enough.

The Board's unequal treatment of these two special interest groups is flagrant. The Region's public schools are not "a welcoming place for everyone" - not, at least, for Christians, unless they keep their mouths shut.

"...it's small acts like this," Mr Manning said, "that will transform our community." They certainly will. But it's clear that the Board does not want truly authentic inclusivity.

Let's suppose, for example, that Christians in Waterloo Region were to declare a "Jesus Month" to promote virtuous and pious living. Would the Board fly our flag? Orwell was right: "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."

So what's to be done about it? In his letter to the Christians in Philippi, Paul sends greetings from the brethren in Rome, significantly including "especially those of Caesar's household." Even on the staff of the imperial palace there were some who had become obedient to the Faith. When Tertullian wrote to the Roman Senate a century and a half later, he noted that Christians had infiltrated every aspect of the life of the Empire: the towns, the country, the marketplace, the army, the courts - "and we have left to you only the temples of your gods." Where today are the bold, vocal Christians on our city councils and our school boards?

Pastors: It's time to encourage informed and capable Christians to run for public office, and for your congregations to support their candidacies.

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A correction: In my column of 21 May, I wrote that a recent American survey of 30,000 congregations identified only 150 adult baptisms over the course of a year. I should have said that only 150 congregations reported any significant number of adult baptisms over the course of a year. Marginally better, but still too few.


Rev Robert Lyon is the assistant at St. Jude, Guelph, a congregation of the Anglican Network in Canada. Robert welcomes your questions and comments, and will be pleased to discuss topics on request. St Jude, Guelph now meets each Sunday morning at The Evergreen Centre. You can contact Robert at nm@bbs42.net. Also check out stjudeguelph.ca


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