Much ado about Christmas, and Christian activism

By February 23, 2024
stock, face hidden, Bible, 2Feb2024, man, yellow jacket

Canada (MNN) — What at first looked like a threat to Christian expression in Canada late last year turned out to be much less than that. But it does give an opportunity for followers of Christ to consider how to engage with current events. 

The inciting incident

Unsplash, Dan Kiefer, stock, Christmas

(Photo courtesy of Dan Kiefer via Unsplash)

In October, the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) published a discussion paper on religious intolerance which named Christmas and Easter as examples of “systematic religious discrimination.” 

Don Hutchinson, a board member with Voice of the Martyrs Canada, says, “The discussion paper caught the attention of some people who were startled that the Canadian Human Rights Commission could be discussing the idea of potentially doing away with statutory holidays for Christmas and Easter — in the opinion of those who were startled. So that was brought to the attention of the House of Commons.”

In November, the House of Commons unanimously denounced the paper. A few days later, the CHRC’s Interim Chief Commissioner Charlotte-Anne Malischewski offered this opinion piece about the discussion paper — it merits reading for further clarity into the controversy. 

A different perspective

Canada is a diverse country, home to a large number of Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and ethnic religions.
(Photo courtesy of Mihai Surdu via Unsplash)

Hutchinson thinks that people made a bigger deal about the matter than it warranted.

He explains that while Canada has a strong influence of Christianity in its history, it is not a Christian nation in its constitution. It’s reasonable that it would raise questions like this.

“We also need to be mindful that other religious communities are going to have concerns about our Christian heritage in terms of the statutory holidays, when they have dates that they consider to be prominent and important — particularly some communities where people are using their vacation time to celebrate their holy days,” Hutchinson says.

He adds that Christmas and Easter have been long-held, even largely secularized holidays in Canada. There is room for differences of religions even within that. Certain 24/7 industries (such as hospitals) have collective agreements that allow employees to exchange their days off for other preferred ones. In short, Canadians of many different backgrounds are used to these holidays and how to function with them. The House of Commons saw no need to alter the nation’s statutory holidays.

The response for next time

Hutchinson recognizes that this won’t be the last time government agencies discuss topics that stir up concern among Christians. He encourages believers to respond to these types of events with prayer first, remembering 2 Timothy 1:7 and Ephesians 6:12-18.

“We’re seeing this increasingly, I think, in the church in Canada that there are parts of the Christian church that are fearful that we’re going to lose our religious freedom — either because religious freedom is granted to another religious community or because the government is taking action that that we find contradictory to our religious beliefs,” Hutchinson says.

In a democracy, there is indeed the risk that things will change due to political behavior, but Hutchinson says “it’s not something that tends to happen instantaneously. So there’s a place for us in the church to pray, and then to engage where we have concerns.” 

He adds, “I think that the best thing for us to do is be the Church. Instead of becoming the political activists who are going to stand up for the Church, be the Church. The political activism will flow from being the Church when we’re focused on Christ first.”

Join Hutchinson in praying “that we search the Scriptures together, that we pray together — that rather than just reacting when we see something in the media or some rumor about what’s happening with government, that we pray, we confirm the details of what we’re praying about, and then, from our place of prayer, we determine what action might or might not be beneficial.”


Header image is a representative stock photo courtesy of Ben White via Unsplash.

Help us get the word out: