Abraham Lincoln, a great American president, had a simple but profound formula for government in a free society. “…government of the people, by the people, for the people.” All freedom-loving Canadians concur with Lincoln. It is a formula that works. But it must be won and kept with determination, sacrifice, and eternal vigilance. How do we rate as a free nation?
All law-abiding Canadians accept government of the people. We want to be governed. Those who refuse to be governed invite anarchy and chaos. Good government however, must not be based on community standards alone but on high moral principles. Moral principles in their highest form, are established by God. Laws formed from these principles are good for all society. Those who say we cannot legislate morality are the first to legislate immorality.
Abortion is a frightening example of legislated immorality. Pro-choice people are not content to make abortion a matter of the woman’s choice, they insist that a pregnant teenager should have that choice without informing her parents. They insist that a pregnant wife should have that choice without the consent of her husband. They insist that abortion should be an option in birth and population control. Legislation that grants this kind of choice is destructive to family life and totally ignores the fact that unborn children also are human beings with personhood and sanctity. They have rights too. They too must be granted a choice. To choose to live is a fundamental principle of freedom.
Lincoln’s second principle of freedom is even more difficult to win and keep Government by the people is not achieved simply by electing politicians to govern. We, the people, elect them and pay their salaries. They work for us. They are responsible to us. They must be accountable to us. What is accepted by most Canadians, and frightens some of us, is how some elected governments ignore the people. Long-term leaders usually adopt an elitist attitude. Little wonder that civil servants often follow similar habits. They forget that they are our employees. We pay their salaries. They are accountable to us.
A recent directive from Revenue Canada, revealed by The Honorable Jake Epp in the House of Commons question period on March 26, 1984, is a shocking example. The Regulation reads, “We would comment in our view, while it would be acceptable for a religious organization to take a public stand on a moral issue, it would not be acceptable for that organization to engage in a campaign designed to bring pressure to bear upon a government to implement legislative changes or adopt a policy which the organization advocated.” Mr. Epp responded, “Those words are frightening. It is saying that if the church recognizes that there is a moral issue they can say so … they are to be the leaven in society … However, if a Bill flows from this House that is in conflict with the moral issues for which that church stands, then that church is in violation of the regulations under which it was registered as a Registered Charity. In my mind, Mr. Speaker, that is a violation of religious freedom.”
The voice of the people
The mentality behind Revenue Canada’s philosophy on charities is that the government considers money that is donated to a charity, and therefore tax-deductible, is an indirect donation to the charity by the government itself. But charities are usually organizations that are deeply committed to high moral principles. Should these charities be severely limited in taking a stand on moral issues? We think not; not in a free society. In a free society it is the people who have and the right the responsibility to govern through their elected representatives.
If a charity strongly opposes abortion-on-demand it should not be threatened with deregistration simply because it lobbies government and elected representatives. Abortion is a moral issue. Government by the people must allow the voice of the people to be heard. This freedom must be won and kept or it will fade away.
Lincoln’s third principle is the most difficult of all to win and keep. Government for the people requires eternal vigilance. Human nature usually looks to short-term solutions for long-term problems. It seeks the easy way out. But cheap solutions often prove costly in the long run. Humanistic situational ethics are the rot of any society. Moral absolutes must be established if a free society is to survive.
Abortion is wrong – dead wrong. To take the lives of unborn children simply because to be born would bring inconvenience to society, or because such children might lack an acceptable quality of life, is a violation of individual freedom. This solution is no solution at all. It is easy, and cheap, but it is costly and fatal in the long term. This God-given sanctity of human must be the most important absolute in the structure of any society. Government must be for the people, not against the people. Unborn children are little people and government, charged with providing freedom for its people, must guard and cherish its little people.
Another great American president recently said, “We cannot survive as a free nation when some men decide that others are not to fit to live and should be abandoned to abortion.” Canada will not survive either if we abandon the struggle to speak for the people yet unborn. These principles of government in a free society are worth the struggle. They must be won and they must be kept.
(Rev.) Hudson T. Hilsden is Coordinator, Social Concerns and Public Relations for The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada.