Pro-lifers have always wondered where the movement would be if the churches were solidly behind them.
Standing out on the picket line, or organizing for another election, they often ask what it would be like if, with one voice, churches of all denominations in this country put their values into action and came down solidly in opposition to the rampant anti-life ethic in today’s society.
Unless they are popular social issues, Canadian churches generally shy away from the “public square.” There are exceptions, but Christians usually prefer to remain quiet on controversial issues like abortion or euthanasia. They will speak out on the environment or peace or violence but avoid the thorny issues which in reality challenge the dominant world-view.
One group of Christians is trying to change all this. At a meeting in Oshawa Ontario, last year more than 300 people turned out for a Community Impact Seminar organized by Focus on the Family. The numbers were especially significant because many of the participants were pastors and active members from 70 different churches.
About 2,000 Canadians attended these one-day work-shops run by Focus on the Family last fall. They left them with a new awareness of how to put their faith into the kind of action which will have an affect on pressing issues like abortion, euthanasia and the break-up of the family. The success of the seminars has encouraged organizers who plan to branch out into many more communities across the country this year.
Vanda Kennedy, a volunteer with the Christian Information Resource Centre, helped organize the Oshawa Community Impact Seminar last fall. She says the main purpose of the seminars is to educate Christians who might be reluctant to oppose the values of society.
“We keep hearing people say, ‘I can’t force my morals on you,’” she says. “It’s a matter of standing up for God’s standard, not our standard. We want to show society there is a better way.”
Typically, a Community Impact Seminar will be hosted at one Church. But it is a city-wide event. Participants go home to their churches armed with information and knowledge about issues like abortion, euthanasia and pornography. They learn bout the groups which they can join to make a difference in their society.
Michael Clarke, of Focus on the Family, was the seminar leader at the Oshawa event.
“When our Christianity fails to address all aspects of life, it becomes too trivial to be true and too impractical to impact the world,” he told the audience.
A recent Angus Reid poll found 78 per cent of Canadians call themselves Christian, while 67 per cent believe Jesus was crucified, died and was buried and rose from the dead.
“Something is pretty fishy here,” Clarke said. “Who’s having those 95,000 abortions every year? How does a multi-million dollar pornography industry thrive in our country?”
“Asking why a Christian should be concerned about public policy is like asking why a parent should be concerned that his house is on fire. It is not merely the social structures that are in danger, our children are inside.”
Rebecca Morcos, who works in the Ottawa office Focus on the Family and is an organizer for the Community Impact Seminars, says the seminars provide” a strong biblical imperative for why, as the body of Christ, we are called to become active in our communities.” She adds that a typical seminar “equips, Christians with the tools necessary to fight the moral battles.”
She gives two examples of participants in the seminars who went on to make a difference in their communities.
Donna Brooker attended a seminar in Niagara Falls recently and ran a province-wide campaign against a homosexual rights bill being considered at Queen’s Park.
“All of a sudden we’re waking up and the Lord’s army is ready to be mobilized,” Brooker says. “We speak the truth and the truth shall set us free.”
Barry Baldwin helped defeat a motion at his local school board to allow condom machines into the schools. He used information from the Community Impact Seminars.
Organizers of the Community Impact Seminars quote Focus on the Family leader Dr. James Dobson when they describe the importance of Christians confronting society.
“We are enmeshed in a civil war that will determine which value system will guide our nations,” Dobson says.