Garnett Genuis writes: Religion and Politics
As a Christian in politics, people often ask me how my religion and my politics fit together. Some people say that faith should not mix with politics. But I believe that all people in politics are influenced by their basic beliefs, whether or not they are religious. There’s some advantage to speaking about that reality openly.
My foundational assumptions about right and wrong are shaped by what might be called “Christian humanism”. I believe that all human beings have immutable value because they are made in the image of God. Government policies ought to affirm and uphold the value of all human life as a result. This is a religious idea with profound and positive political implications.
Some people think that being a Christian in politics means only standing up for other Christians. But, we know that all people are made in the image of God, not just people who share our faith. This recognition leads Christians in politics to stand up for the often neglected situation of persecuted Christians, but also for other minorities who face discrimination on the basis of their religious or ethnic identity. We speak for the voiceless, whether or not they are from our faith community.
My Christian humanism deeply influences the decisions I make every day as a politician. My advocacy for persecuted minorities, my votes in the House of Commons on a wide variety of other issues, and the way I try to relate to constituents facing challenges are all influenced by my humanism, which has its roots in my faith.
While people whose public advocacy is seen to be influenced by faith are often criticized for it in our society, the same professing “secularists” are happy to celebrate Christian humanists when they agree with them. I haven’t heard anyone say recently that William Wilberforce, Abraham Lincoln, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Tommy Douglas should have kept their faith-informed political views to themselves. These were people who played leading roles in the fight against slavery, the fight against Nazism, and the introduction of universal healthcare in Canada. Their political actions were informed by their Christian faith. Still, even if Christian humanists have been regarded positively by history, they are not always appreciated by their contemporaries.
Even those who are annoyed by the faith-informed interventions of Christian humanists in policy debates should acknowledge that everyone has a worldview. An atheistic humanist or a moral relativist also has a worldview and moral assumptions, even if they are not linked to specific ritual practices. They still have foundational beliefs about things which they cannot prove through reason alone. In that sense every politician is religious – it’s simply a question of which god they serve.