What do you believe?

Who decides what you believe?

Should you have the freedom to choose what you believe?

Should others be permitted to force their beliefs on you? or you to force your beliefs on others?

Should the government or the church take the role of deciding what its citizens should believe, and then go on to force those beliefs on everyone?

Those countries, most notably Islamic countries now, but this included Christian countries in the past, where the church dictates belief and practice are not known for freedom (think Saudi Arabia).

And those countries where the government dictates ideology to the people are condemned by us for their lack of freedom and abuse of human rights (think North Korea and China).

The problem is in agreeing WHO will decide what the people should believe. Because we hold varying and conflicting beliefs, and because permitting any organization or institution to dictate beliefs and ideology to the population will invariably result in lack of freedom and abuses of human rights, “free” counties have adopted the position that NO ONE will decide what you must believe and do, and that a variety of beliefs must be permitted to co-exist. And these countries have enacted laws such as a Constitution and Bill of Rights to prevent either the church or the government from dictating to the people what they will believe and do. The role of government is to ensure that freedom and civil liberties are maintained and respected.

But in Canada over the past couple of years various levels of government have acted to restrict and limit many of our customary activities and practices on account of Covid. I agree that there has been some rationale for these restrictions, but all must agree that they also represent an erosion of dearly held freedoms.

It’s a slippery slope, where human rights are lost. At the bottom of the slope are countries such as North Korea, Burma, and Sudan. When the government starts taking away personal freedoms and requiring compliance with it’s ideology, rather than protecting those human rights, that country is sliding down the slope. The government of Justin Trudeau took a big step down that slope last fall when they instituted a Covid vaccine mandate. They said they were leading by example – but the example I see is intolerance of the diversity of beliefs held by Canadians on this issue and the coercion of many citizens to comply with government ideology against their will. Countries that value liberty, freedom, and human rights are not characterized by intolerance and coercive compliance with government ideology. Of course, if you support the ideology of the enforcing institution, then it’s no hardship for you. Even the government of North Korea has its supporters. The measure of freedom in any country is its ability to accomodate a diversity of belief. On this issue, Canada is failing.

Jeff Corbett
McBride, BC