Faith Column: Harper’s crime bill anti-Christian
Bill C-10 completely contrary to faith
When Jesus Christ walked the Earth, he advocated a message of punishment, incarceration, racism, criminalizing the poor and building lots of prisons to keep sinners and criminals away from him.
Oh, whoops. Never mind. For some reason, I just assumed that Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s and Minister of Justice Rob Nicholson’s version of Christianity would reflect the original message of Christ — how naive of me. Instead, their version — proven by their latest piece of legislation — is completely contrary to the gospel.
Bill C-10, also known as the Safe Streets and Communities Act, contains enough issues for both the secular and the religious to criticize: enormous costs, an archaic view on drugs, racism against Aboriginal peoples and the ineffectiveness of punitive justice measures. But if Harper and Nicholson are Christians — as they both claim to be — then the crime bill that became law on March 13 becomes even more morally problematic.
The story of Christianity is a loving God saving her/his rebellious people from themselves, despite the fact that they continually ignore her/his calls. This is particularly well illustrated in the book of Hosea, where Hosea is ordered by God to marry the sex worker Gomer, despite knowing that she would betray him. Paul touched upon the same theme when he wrote, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). The entire idea of Christianity is that we’ve all screwed up and are desperately in need of grace, which is delivered by the death and resurrection of Christ (who himself was a prisoner).
Bill C-10 doesn’t consider those values at all. Instead, it institutes mandatory minimum sentences, stating that no matter the context of your transgression, you deserve time behind bars. It ignores the beauty of forgiveness by removing the possibility of parole — which is now harshly titled “record suspension” — for many crimes. Alternative sentencing, such as community service or healing lodges, have been tossed out the window, which states to the world that healing will only ever come through prisons. It supports retaliation instead of redemption, by encouraging Canadians who are victims of terrorism to sue the perpetrators (which seems like a ridiculous notion in the first place).
Harper and Nicholson have pushed through legislation that is completely contrary to the faith they proclaim to believe in. The separation of church and state is a completely reasonable principle — and I’m not suggesting that Canada becomes a theocracy — but when the Tories condemn abortion, homosexuality, sex work and drugs based on a supposedly Christian doctrine, then turn around and condemn the poor, the ethnic minorities and the women of Canada with this bill, there’s a bit of questioning that needs to be done.
The Gospel of Christ is one of redemption for sinners and hope for the disadvantaged, poor and sick. This bill achieves neither of those things and will continue to drive our nation towards a culture of systemized racism, addiction, poverty, family breakdown and incarceration. If Christ walked the earth today, it’d be safe to say that Harper and Nicholson would be among the first of the Pharisees he would reprehend.