There’s a natural correlation between the Middle Orders of family, community, education, and business (which must not be conflated with the High Orders of state and government) and personal (Low Order) liberty.   We lose liberty, not when we interact naturally with family, church, and other Middle Orders (which is what Rousseau claimed, and Marx after him) but rather when the Middle Orders are destroyed or displaced by the High Order state.

Our culture has been now shaped by those who have intentionally conflated state and community, particularly with a view to supplanting Middle Orders and their rightful tasks of education, healthcare, and charity.  In doing so, they trap individuals in a dependent orientation to the state (which deTocqueville called soft-despotism), which also means that individuals are left with a damaged social structure  when they attempt to interact with the natural Middle Orders of society like their own families.

We’re seeing the fruit of this failed Rousseauian experiment today.  Today, people often do not know how to function in their primary relationships of family, employment, and social responsibility without looking to the High Order of the state to step in and cover for them.  Culturally, we have crippled interpersonal relationships.  This is perhaps a worse crisis than the fact that the Middle Orders provide the only protection we have from despotism; we have permitted the deterioration of the natural context where human people learn how to live in the kinds of community we were created for.  A boy without a father will bear out the consequences of that broken structure in his own home.  Indeed, natural Middle Orders call for relational responsibility, but it is responsibility in the context of community where there is natural accountability and support, so that the weight of child-rearing, education, and so on becomes bearable.

But when the Middle Orders of family, church, community level education, and local personal businesses, are eroded or replaced, and individuals are left only in relationship to the state, whatever responsibilities we face seem suddenly overwhelming.

Of course, at that point, Rousseauian High Order advocates are only too happy to step in with programs and state structures designed to walk with the individual through life.  And at that point, only government programs seem able to help.  What individuals enter, then, is not community, but slavery: gentle, benevolent and happy as it may be.

With that, real liberty is lost.

With that, humanity itself is defaced.  Disfigured.  Distorted.

When it comes to the gap between rich and poor, the biggest problem we have is not a matter of free markets or the failure of wealth to trickle down.  That is happening well and the free market has been the key factor in pulling millions of people out of poverty over the last two centuries.  It may not seem fast enough, but if you look at the whole of poverty in human history with people at subsistence living for millennia, the change is almost miraculous. Especially these last years in China and India.  Now these changes do not mean we’re done, and Christians are not utopians, but the expansion of opportunities for work and capital are the best answer we’ve got to extreme poverty.  The problem of poverty makes me more sure that if governments would get out of the way, I think the middle and low orders of society could do a lot more, more efficiently, and more quickly.

The problem we have today, creating the gap between rich and poor, is not the free market, but government messing with it.  In particular, issues of money supply and fiat currency.  In Canada, the bank of Canada buying bonds and the masses of loans by banks at low interest have increased our practical money supply immensely.  That devalues the wealth of the poor and lower middle class disproportionately.  On the other side, the rich are not only consumers, but asset holders.  As the value of currency goes down because the supply goes up, their assets increase in value.  A strong increase in asset values, of course, also frees them to borrow against those assets, and so they get cheap money supplied by those low interest rates.  That means cheap available capital.  The extremely wealthy, as it happens, are the people who know what to do with cheap money – and so they make it grow and get richer.  That’s a significant factor in the increasing gap today.

Our rich/poor gap is not a distribution problem – that is a false narrative that is detached from how an economy actually works. There is not a fixed amount of wealth that is just divided up unequally – that’s a Marxist myth that leads human souls only to envy, violence and theft.  In contrast, wealth is created when people are free to use their talents and abilities to create things out of the raw materials of the earth.  The free market gives every person equally a chance to trade their created wealth for things they require.  Trade, of that kind, is part of the natural order created by God – broken with the fall, certainly – but still by His design. People were designed to work and create, and then we are set by design in community, which together gives us the ability to specialize our labour and then trade with each other for what we need. The miracle of it, of course, is that a free market of that kind enables us both to mutually benefit – I decide for myself what I need and what I value, and you do too, and trade will only happen when we both feel we’re benefiting in the exchange.  That ‘invisible hand‘ is by God’s design.

Christians through history have been critical of government messing with the economy because it causes poverty and creates false values for things people need. Juan de Mariana is my favorite: as an elderly priest he challenged the King of Spain when he began to alter currency; the first chapter in his book is called “Does The King Own His Subject’s Goods?”  Of course he answered no, and as a servant of Christ ultimately got himself pitched in jail.

The best way to answer the problem of the gap between rich and poor is to get the government out and away from the economy.  We need the Separation of Business and State as sure as the Separation of Church and State.  The free market is a self-regulating natural order that allows a massive amount of complexity to occur with a bias towards the mutual benefit of participants.  It also forces necessary changes in human society:  People practicing a trade that is no longer valued by others in society will be forced to change.  In the big picture, that is a good thing – their labour will go towards something that is valued and everyone thereby benefits.  And the free market regulates the wealthy too.  It’s in a person’s rational self interest to increase their wealth – and the way to do that is to use wealth. The great thing about the free market (if we could ever have one!) is that it incentivizes rich people to use their money by way of investing. That’s where real spill-over happens – when new business ventures are supported and there is an increase in the possibilities for employment and the creation of new wealth.

The role of government around a free market should be to protect individual freedoms, by dealing with theft, deceit, and force or violence.  That is necessary in order to prevent powerful corporate or collective powers from mistreatment of individuals.  If those corruptions of power are kept in check by a limited government, we have the best options in a broken world, and we’ve honoured what God honours.  Liberty, creativity, exchanges of mutual benefit, and people feeding their families.

What government should not do is engage in slavery. Slavery is when one person is forced to work for the benefit of another.  All involuntary redistribution schemes enacted by government are the moral equivalent of slavery, and these Christians must reject.

Jesus’ radical call for us to care for the poor is an individual personal call to each believer and voluntary community; it is a call to use their wealth to bless others.  That may mean selling everything and giving it away. Or it may mean Priscilla & Aquilla host a church in the home they can afford as business entrepreneurs.  Ananias & Sapphira can sell their field and give the money to the church, or not – a point Peter makes exceptionally clear when he affirms it was theirs to do with as they wished.

The care of the poor is for us to do: it falls to the low and middle orders of society, and not to the state.

So what should the state do?

As stated, the moral purpose for me is one of protecting liberty.  I am tempted a bit by folks like Herbert and the thinking around Voluntarism in the 19th century, but I do think that some things which simply need to be done (moments where a higher order must step in because lower orders cannot handle the problems), require a higher order intervention that I’m not convinced a wholly voluntary state can handle.

We can say some things logically:

1) Rom 13 makes the necessity of taxes clear, to cover the needs of those who’ve given themselves to governing. The state there is set in place to punish the wrong doer, but also ‘to do us good’. The question of what is good is open for some debate.

2) Stealing from one to help others, or setting up a regular system based on that process, is hardly ‘doing good’.  Again, that moves towards enslavement.

3) That doesn’t mean there’s no role for the state to play, of course. There are people who cannot, for very legitimate reasons (age, health, etc.) care for themselves, and some answer which just abandons them or leaves them in poverty is no good answer either.

4) Jesus’ calls us – regardless of whatever kind of state we may live under – to radical and active care for those in need. Faithful religion looks after widows and orphans. I see these as a call for individuals and Christian communities to take these needs seriously and act on them.

And so the state’s ‘good’ to be done to us, to my way of thinking, is well articulated by the notion of subsidiarity.  The priority is the freedom of individuals (the low order) and communities, churches, businesses, families, etc. (the middle orders) to be able to pursue the purpose to which they’ve been called by Christ. I think the state can facilitate and support those works without having to take them all over.  That facilitation is a clear ‘good’. When the low and middle orders reach their capacity, then for the state to step in with further assistance is also clearly to me a ‘good’. The same with even more substantial crises where no middle order could possibly manage the problem or coordinate aid (disaster relief, massive medical bills, society wide needs, etc.)

The moral goal of the state, then, is for action to be based on a clear recognition that stepping in would be to facilitate the free activities of low and middle orders, and only then to enable care to be given where no other realistic means exists, for a temporary time.  I see then a limited government, stripped down to these basic purposes: using other people’s money in a tight framework only for governing; for the purpose of protecting liberty (policing, courts, national defense of some kind); and to ‘do good’ in a clearly defined sense, meaning not spending other people’s money on every great idea that comes along, but first asking whether there are others who can do the good that we can enable and support.

Imagine that kind of government?  One that comes to charities, churches, and businesses alike and asks, how can we help you do what you?  What do you need to succeed?  What would be the best way for us to help you care for the poor.

Suddenly, we find the gap between poor and rich closing as government gets out of the way.

I’m concerned about a trend I see in the evangelical church.

In particular, what I see is a crisis arising because of the acceptance of government action as the sole means of addressing poverty.

The bottom line is that the state is not the best way to get aid to those who need it.  Perhaps some circumstances may require it, but questions of the expense of government bureaucracy (meaning that the monies given are significantly eroded before they actually get to the people in need), the inability of bureaucracy to respond to the particulars of a person’s situation, and the crisis we have as a result of the distancing of people from those in need, all suggest to me that the middle orders of society could do a better, more responsive, and more faithful work.

By crisis, I mean that we have a culture of people who ‘have’ who can live their whole lives totally detached from the poor because of the posture of government. Government stands between the rich and poor in our society, and treats the question of the rich poor divide wholly in materialistic terms. The result is a dehumanization of people – both poor and rich – who see only the stereotype told in their own narrative. The rich see only lazy people who don’t work and live off the dole; the poor see only greedy corporate pigs who won’t share. Neither narrative is true – but government, by it’s very posture as the only means of addressing poverty, perpetuates those narratives. Government is the opposite of community – and only community can really care for those in need.

I think the failure we’ve fallen over in the west, really, is the Rousseauian conflation of community and state. The result is, as de Tocqueville said, a soft despotism where real community (the middle orders from which Rousseau thought everyone needed to be liberated) are destroyed and replaced by one massive state ruling over lone individuals who can never resist state power. And we see the fruit of that today – suggest that the government won’t do something, and people wonder if that means it won’t be done at all. Suggest that the government shouldn’t do something, and people assume that means you think it shouldn’t be done at all.

I’m concerned that evangelicals have been buying into the state/community conflation – and so assuming that care for the poor necessarily means more government. But Jesus’ call is not for more government – it’s for us, personally, to take up the Kingdom work assigned to us.

What’s wrong with the state engaging in charitable causes?

The fundamental issue is the conflation of different uses of the state and the law. One type of use is moral, the other is not. It is moral for the law to be used to protect private property and persons; it is fundamentally immoral for the law to be used to take private property from persons, even for philanthropic ends.

In Bastiat’s words:

“Here I encounter the most popular fallacy of our times. It is not considered sufficient that the law should be just; it must be philanthropic. Nor is it sufficient that the law should guarantee to every person the free and inoffensive use of his faculties for physical, intellectual, and moral self-improvement. Instead, it is demanded that the law should directly extend welfare, education, and morality throughout the nation.”
“This is the seductive lure of socialism. And I repeat again: These two uses of the law are in direct contradiction to each other. We must choose between them. A citizen cannot at the same time be free and not free.”

Part of Bastiat’s logic, and I would say the faithful Christian position on the matter, is that the use of the law always implies force. Whatever law you make, because the state with its power is the actor, you plan to enforce. To say it differently, everything the state does ultimately is at the point of a gun.  If I reject a law, or refuse a tax, ultimately after fines and further refusal’s on my part, I will be arrested and held imprisoned. If I reject that imprisonment and try to leave I will be restrained by force and violence, and if I continue fight for my freedom I will face point of a gun.

Every well intentioned law you make, or tax you levy, assuming you expect the state to enforce it, you choose to enact at the point of a gun. You may not intend that, and socialism tries to pretend it away, but it is the fundamental fact of what the state is.

The Christian moral question, then, is: ‘when is it ok to put a gun in someone’s face?’

The scriptural answer for this question, in terms of the state, is found in Romans chapter 13, where we’re told that the state has been set by God and equipped with the use of force for the punishment of wrong-doers.  Because this is the state’s God given purpose, its use of force for the protection of others, of private property, and to enforce contractual arrangements is moral.

While the use of force is right for the punishment of wrong-doers, it is illegitimate and immoral for the sake of charity.  Why?  Because Christianity rejects the idea that the end justifies the means.  Christian’s must reject the naive interpretation of the state as some kind of financial dispensary.  The state has no financial resources of its own, apart perhaps from the sale of public lands or government assets which are hardly sufficient or sustainable as the financial basis for significant charitable works.  What that means is that when someone advocates that the state should undertake some philanthropic project, they are not asking a wealthy king to open his coffers.  They are suggesting, rather, that the state use its force to confiscate the wealth required to carry out its charitable aims.  That is exactly the same as going to a neighbour, putting a gun in their face, and taking their property under the threat of force.  Even if they let you take it, there’s no morality left in their act. They’ve been robbed. That’s all.

Some Christians point to passages like Psalm 72 to argue that the state should also offer charity to the poor.  But that is not the description of the King suggested in the Psalm.  In Psalm 72, the King should not allow the poor to be exploited because of their need, and he should ensure the OT laws applicable to them were enforced.  That matches Romans 13 and Jesus preference for the poor wonderfully.  The Psalm goes on to suggest that the King ought to give of His own immense wealth for the sake of the poor, reflecting the OT practice of the poor tithe. In OT times, the poor had the benefit of that tithe, and as well they had the freedom to glean after the harvest – and we’re right to understand that the King was also a landowner.  The scripture applied today, in effect then, is calling a Stephen Harper to use His personal finances to help care for the poor and to ensure that his state power is leveled for their protection. There is nothing in that passage that gives the King the right to grab other people’s property and redistribute it. (For scriptural support, consider Jezebel when she takes Naboth’s vineyard – Fr. Juan de Mariana makes this case in his chapter on “Does the King Own His Subject’s Goods?” from his A Treatise On The Alteration Of Money.  He’s an excellent read that helps with Christian thinking on economics and governance.)

There is no way for a serious Christian to make easy use of the state as a means to charity, because no matter how well intentioned or good the end might be, the means of state-force are a vile imitation of real righteousness and charity.

I write all this because I’m quite concerned about the current trend I see among some evangelicals and the missional church of which I’d consider myself a part.

Christian charity is self-sacrificial. We’re called personally to sell our possessions and give to the poor, trusting in the Kingdom. In the OT, the poor tithe is between the individual and God Himself, and not the state.

Instead, however, current hipster forms of Christianity seem to be producing uninformed and gullible Christians who use Jon Stewart as both news and education source. The personal call to charity in the scriptures is diminished in favour of offloading personal responsibility to the state, and justifying the state’s confiscation of the wealth of others.  And then, these Christians actually think they care about the poor because they advocated that someone else’s wealth be stolen and given away. It is a sham. It’s the classic elitist liberal guilt that chooses public advocacy instead of personal action; it cherishes a charitable image, but maintains a cold personal distance from the poor.

I can’t help but wonder if Christian’s who believe they’ve pursued charity, but carried it out by theft from others at the point of the state’s gun, are in for a sorry show when the judgment comes.  Naivete is the only defense; there is nothing Christian about it.  It is a repugnant pseudo-philanthropy based on evil.  One cannot mix food and poison: there can be no compromise with the socialistic use of the state; to hold a gun to the wealthy for the cause of the poor is a form of slavery with the produce of one man’s labour taken by force for another.

So what role can the state play in the face of poverty or distress?  Subsidiarity teaches that the Higher Orders only step in temporarily when the Middle Orders of society face a challenge to their pursuit of the good which they cannot overcome on their own.  Certainly a Christian case can be made for disasters, and even, perhaps, critical health care.  But how much better for the state to ask the middle orders of society how it can pave the way for their work!  What if the state, recognizing social needs, facilitated the generosity and growth of businesses, charitable organizations, and faith based organizations?  What if, seeing international needs for help, the state facilitated citizens efforts to care for others and backed them up?   Indeed, the greatest answer we have for poverty is employment.  The only source of wealth we have is our productive citizenry; the state is just an expensive means of gathering some of that wealth by force.  Jesus called for us to be the foundation of a better way.

The call of Christ – to every person – is to give to the poor and needy ourselves.  We must not use Jesus’ name to justify theft, not even for a ‘good’ cause.

Why would a Christian be critical of socialism?

 

Because it violates God given individual freedom.

 

I’m not sure people who offload personal responsibility for the poor to the government understand what Jesus had in mind. Jesus’ call was absolutely not for Christians to take over political power and use it to redistribute wealth according to their whim. Jesus’ call is for them to sell everything of their own, or at least put what they have been given personally to work, and follow Him. The call is to give and share what we have, in a radical way, not to devise a scheme by which we can force others to give or share what they have.  Even while we passionately appeal to another’s conscience and cry out for them to be charitable and faithful with what God has entrusted to them, we nevertheless make no claim on another’s property or liberty.  Their charity and faithfulness is between them and God alone.

 

And so the idea that support for a government program for the poor is inherently faithful only makes sense in a world where the end justifies the means. And it does not.

 

Now certainly followers of Jesus must heed and obey the scriptural and spiritual call for them to care for the poor or disadvantaged.  But that call is to be borne out by individual followers as acts of worship, it is not to be used to justify power-broking monstrosities that choose winners and losers in society.  I am not saying there is anything wrong with a society or community that looks to hold some things in common.  The early church did indeed hold things in common and took seriously the work of ensuring that people were not left in need.  But they did not accomplish this by demand.  What they shared was only and expressly voluntarily given.  Peter names that freedom when he tells Ananias that his property belonged to him, and that the wealth was at his disposal.  His violation was not a refusal to share – he was totally free in that regard.  His violation was lying and pretending to share.  That pretension is the real sin.  And that protected freedom matters.

 

Politically speaking, socialists will speak about freedom.  But what they mean is nuanced.  There are two types of freedom:  negative and positive freedom.

 

Negative freedom is natural freedom.  It is the great gift of freedom given by God in the creation of humankind and the Garden of Eden, and is best symbolized by the presence of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  The placement of that tree in the Garden of Eden is a statement that while God commanded humankind not to eat of the tree, the freedom to do otherwise was yet protected.  God’s desire was not automatons which could not help but do his will.  God’s desire was free persons who chose obedience freely out of their love.  Consequently, anything which eliminates or substitutes for that freedom, even in an effort to force people to do good, is wholly out of step with God’s perfect plan. Negative freedom is the freedom to reject, to dissent, to refuse to participate or support, to withhold.  It is the freedom we enjoy as God’s gift that allows us to do whatever we wish in the world without interference even from Him – and that gift is essential if we’re to retain the freedom to choose obedience of our own.  Anything which forces good violates the freedom which makes a moral act moral, the freedom which makes love genuinely love, and so is a use of power which renders every good act amoral.  Negative or natural freedom is the first gift of God after life itself, and to limit it is an abhorrent evil.

 

Positive freedom is born of the estimation that many people may not be able to actualize their negative or natural freedom.  The poor man, for example, cannot buy whatever car he likes because he is limited by a lack of wealth.  Positive freedom is an expression of the attempt to alter certain circumstances so that whatever might limit a person or people can be overcome.  If people are starving because of a lack of wealth, then providing wealth or affordable food is the establishment of positive freedom for those people.  If people would like to work in a nearby community on the other side of a mountain, then building a tunnel would be the establishment of positive freedom for those people.  Positive freedom is always an artificial creation design to facilitate another’s natural freedom, and so only results from actions of charity, kindness, generosity, support and compassion.  Positive freedom is often necessary for the disadvantaged, the poor, the sick, the oppressed or the victimized to be able to make use of their negative or natural freedom.  When we give a gift to a person in need, we have actualized a degree of positive freedom.  And so part of the command of scripture and the Spirit is for us to provide positive freedom for those in need.

 

Socialism is a political attempt to create positive freedom by direct use of state power.  If the creation of positive freedom is necessary for us to carry out the compassionate, kind and generous work of Jesus in the world, then why would a Christian ever oppose socialism?

 

The fundamental problem is that the socialist’s use of state power to create positive freedom for some citizens inherently requires the interruption of the natural freedom of others.  In other words, socialism justifies the destruction of negative or natural freedoms, and sets them firmly in tension with positive freedoms.  Indeed, to achieve its ends, it must always sacrifice God given natural freedom in the effort to force the establishment of positive freedom according to the whim of the state and her bureaucrats.  The redistribution of wealth by state power, for example, is merely stealing from one to give to another.  We recognize that this is not properly charity as Jesus would advocate.  In fact, when a state plays Robin Hood in this fashion it actually destroys the possibility of real charity.

 

Faithfulness to Christ is constituted by responsive acts and activity arising out of individual and personal spiritual choices made possible by the gift of natural freedom.  In response to the leading of Scripture and the Spirit, the Christian who freely chooses compassion and care, generosity and self-sacrifice, has lived in faithfulness.  The same acts arising out of compulsion or manipulation have no value as free responses to the leading of Christ, and so cease to be moral or faithful acts or activities.  Suddenly our ‘charity’ is effectively amoral.

 

This is a serious spiritual problem, so let me explain. For a government to establish positive freedoms at the expense of other people’s natural freedom is destructively immoral.  Firstly, it directly undermines the possibility that I may choose kindness and charity for myself since it takes a person’s wealth and so also their choice as to it’s purpose.  But there’s a more indirect and perhaps more insidious problem.  Socialism paves the way for a citizenry to become unaware of the progressive amorality of their activity.  When the state does charity for us, we’re led to the pretension of compassion and care in a way that is fundamentally contrary to Jesus’ command for us to be personally self-sacrificial and charitable.  The depersonalized and disconnected activity of the state, well intentioned though it may be, undermines my personal role and responsibility in charity.  It glosses over my personal spiritual obligations and anesthetizes my guilt with the fanciful illusion of politically achieved compassion.  Care devoid of any personal investment, involvement or sacrifice, is not Christian charity and nor is it faithfulness.  In practice, socialism relieves a populace of the sense of the need to give personally and so the individual sense of obligation that Christ has called for.

What that means is that socialism cuts us off from our personal responsibility for the poor.  Efficiency and political machinery be dammed, socialism cuts us off from others in need.  In 2nd Corinthians 8 we see that charitable giving is inherently relational, and it results in a mutual exchange where different kinds of ‘plenty’ or ‘fullness’ are reciprocated.  But when the state steps in by force as my proxy, then no longer must I embrace the disadvantaged myself; no longer must I empty myself for them by my free choice to follow Christ with the whole of my life.  Instead, now I can keep a distance and let the state be my proxy in caring, freeing me from personal investment in compassionate living and from relationship with the poor or sick.  The consequence is a society of individuals detached from actual need, and restrained from the growth that comes from inconvenience and sacrifice.

 

Add to that the basic understanding of giving personally and freely as part of the life of worship, and we see that socialism results in a deplorable state where everything that giving means to the Christian is thoroughly eviscerated.

 

In our current context, this is especially the case when the state does so on the basis of borrowed money for which multiple generations will be irrevocably and involuntarily accountable.

 

There is often the perception that only the left, the progressives and socialists in our society, care for the poor because only they speak of large government activity to that end.  But the political left does not have a monopoly on concern for others – regardless of their press and propaganda. Their only distinctive is that they want to use to government power and structures to accomplish it.  The debate isn’t about care and compassion; it is about the means of carrying it out.  In fact, economically, in practice progressives’ ideas play irresponsibly with creating inter-generational dependency and so may curse the poor to a class trap wherein the only hope they know is government entitlements in perpetuity.  This achieves two dark goals with one firm and deliberate purpose.

First, socialism creates a populace of dependent economic slaves.  Indeed, the fight against socialism is properly the Human Rights struggle of the 21st century.  The creation of dependency is a dehumanizing and debilitating project designed to facilitate the socialist means of salvation.  That, of course, is the second goal.  Socialism creates the slave master: the enlarging state.  As the state inserts itself into every area of life, the result is a self-justifying loop where an interventionist government uses its power to establish more and more ‘reasons’ for intervention.  All this after one ultimate goal:  a government structure with the political power required to advance a variety of other progressive causes that can only move forward at the expense of broad individual freedoms.  This is the only way for them to create the kind of society they want.  Only a powerful socialist state can overpower the objections of individual dissenters or objectors.  It’s for this reason that all socialist states move progressively in the direction of practical tyranny.  One of the first steps, for example, is total and absolute control of education and the economy so that the foundations of their social engineering can take place unhindered.  In effect, socialists are ghouls – they facilitate and then feed off the needs of some, in order to justify their own power over everyone.

 

Making the matter more bitter, the whole project is simply unsustainable.  David Susuki has complained that economics is insanity, and that free market practices are unsustainable, but the truth of his complaint is simply that the reasoned logic of freedom and the free market just won’t let people like him do what they want to do.  Indeed, they actually go so far as to define private property itself as unsustainable, and so offer the needless solution that a broad takeover by the government is the only thing that will relieve whatever issues we face.  But ironically, it’s really the forcible taking of wealth from some for the sake of others or for other causes which is ultimately damaging to the healthy economic growth that can offer the answer to poverty, suffering and need.  And please understand, a prosperous economy, economic growth and the creation of wealth as the solution to poverty and need is not a corrupted materialistic concept.  Wealth is just another way to talk about people feeding their families, educating their children, caring for the sick or disadvantaged, and actualizing the positive freedoms of their choice.  When people supportive of free market principles speak about the economy, they are speaking about the best practical care possible for the poor and needy in our society.

 

My contention is that concern for the poor and the establishment of positive freedoms are morally legitimate ends, but Christian morality also calls for the protection of natural freedoms.  In other words, acts of charity, kindness and compassion must be wholly voluntary, lest they lose their Christian character and moral legitimacy.  A healthy economy and the creation of wealth in a free market is the only practical way to equip individual citizens with the kind of wealth needed to meet the needs of the disadvantaged.  Only that strategy can facilitate both natural and positive freedom.

 

The freedom to dissent from the government in practice, without hindering the individual natural freedom of others, is the basis of a civilized society.   Government may be an effective tool for a few social justice projects – but if the project violates any of the above ethical boundaries, then the ethical answer is for the government to encourage and perhaps even promote or facilitate independent activities (which could include groups of people voluntarily assembling their efforts into a collective act.). For the government to take those projects on itself is generally an immoral misuse of its power.

 

In summary, socialist or progressivist economic governance, even when well intentioned, fails some ethical tests of Christianity for a few clear reasons:

1.  While hoping for the creation of positive freedom, socialism sacrifices and so fails to protect essential and non-negotiable negative or natural freedom.

2.  Correspondingly it legitimizes theft.

3.  It dis-empowers citizens by establishing an invalid and inappropriate level of state power over personal wealth and private property, and their freedom to use it as they see fit, by making the state the only means of help or social advance.

4.  It enslaves people by trapping them in a cycle of dependency on government.

5.  It separates personal moral responsibility and action (since the government will ‘take care of it’)

6.  The practical unsustainability of current socialist style government practices, (evidenced by our European friends who’ve thrown their economy off a cliff – immediately meaning government induced mass unemployment and poverty), inevitably means a cycle of increases in the need for other people’s money and property, and so increases in the power of the state, and so ultimately the threat of violence against those who dissent.

While G20 protesters were held in a detention centre last weekend, two self-serving chaps tried to lead the other imprisoned protesters in a ‘chant’.  The chant was based on lyrics from a song posted on YouTube by one ‘anrkidchris’, called “Crash the Meeting”, which was written in advance of the G20 summit and offers the usual lefty wannabe revolutionary diatribe: it’s time to make war, the police are trash, let’s go and raise mayhem.  They even refer to Toronto as ‘T Dot”, which I think is supposed to be real street.  Their video – which I’ll let you find yourself if you must <insert language alert here> – includes banners of protest against our current economic system, against corporations like The Gap & Starbucks, against the notion that 1% of the world has 45% of the worlds wealth, includes warnings like ‘expect resistance’, and ends with the plea that ‘another world is possible.’

I’d like to say that the other world they seem to think is possible, is only possible if other people are in fact not free, and if you’ll acquiesce to the theory that other people (the ones who disagree with them) are mindless sheep.

Generally, when we meet people who think that all others around them are gullible twits, we label them arrogant.  This kind of arrogance invalidates a person’s ideas for our communal future.  The reason for that dismissal of their ideas is that when a person takes that arrogant position in relation to their neighbours, said person shows clearly that the motivation to govern or lead is not out of love for people or the desire for them to be free.

Why?

Because the moment you think other people are incapable idiots, you’ve proven that you don’t respect them, (and that is the antithesis of love and concern for people), and, because you don’t respect them, you will never trust them to make decisions for themselves. That means you cannot leave them to be free – to enjoy real freedom, where others can disagree, make mistakes and intentionally choose what you believe to be foolish. It is because of that absolute disdain for real people that the left always ends up turning back to a massive socialist state as an answer to the problem of how to make sure that everyone does what they want.

These folks are not anarchists or libertarians representing freedom.  They are arrogant tyrants who want the whole world to live the way they dictate. They are not after freedom, they’re after power – and these happy rapping chaps are willing to promote ‘war’ as a means to that end.

What about people who want to buy from the corporate world these chaps hate?  Those doing so not because they’ve been seduced by corporate ad power, but because that’s the choice they’ve made? Are they free to do that or not? What about people who want the free interaction of wealth creators? What about those people out for a nice evening at the Keg last weekend who found themselves picked up along with crowds? In the big picture, who’s really on their side? Who are the real violent tyrants? The police?  Are the legally empowered individuals putting their lives on the line to protect our system of negotiated freedoms really tyrants?  Are not those who prance around with talk of revolution and war actually culpable?  Of course they are – incendiary talk of war and ‘crashing’ the G20 meetings is not illustrative of peaceful protest, but of violence, civil disorder, and risk to the public at large.   The only logical consequence was for the police to step in aggressively to shut down the unrest.  The result of that socially healthy decision is that innocent bystanders who didn’t think to stay away entirely will inevitably be caught in the sweep designed to protect the community as a whole.  We do have a right to expect that after a brief and safe detention where those gathered can be sorted, they’ll be released.  And they were.

I’ll make a second comment here regarding the notion that 1% of the world ‘has’ 45% of the wealth. Not quite. Just going with their own numbers, a better way to phrase the situation would be to say that 1% of the world has CREATED 45% of the world’s wealth. Wealth is not a static commodity which can simply be spread around. Wealth is created. The role of the state is not to spread wealth around, but to facilitate a free environment where it can be created. The creation of wealth and freedom are the keys to feeding our planet, caring for the poor and infirm, and advancing as a society.

In contrast, the end game for what these happy rappers advocate is a disordered mess where the state rules everything, punishes personal or individual success, and rewards mediocrity and idleness. That, by the way, is the land of labour unions without restriction (economic rule by little cult collectives that throw away the individual liberties of whomever dissents), of statist environmental regulations (that sacrifice freedom for whatever trendy idea gets cooked up to further the statist cause), and a world ultimately condemned en masse to poverty because these tyrants have no plan on how to create the wealth for tomorrow. Why create something when the state is just going to dole it out or spread it around, and in the Obama version of the same insanity just borrow, borrow, borrow to keep the game going?  When state power becomes the great equalizer and arbiter of who gets what among the general population, the consequence over and over through history is a populace dependent on the state.

THAT is the real road to slavery and poverty – precisely what many of the groups protesting last weekend say they’re against, and yet seem bent on creating. I’ve actually had people like these try to explain to me how we need to ‘redefine’ freedom. Orwellian indeed. It’s ironic that the people screaming about freedom and calling the police Nazi’s are in fact the real national socialists of today . . .

Re: Copyright Legislation and Fair Use extended to the pulpit

Greetings Minister Clement,

My name is Rev. Bob Davies and I’m a pastor in Kanata, Ontario. I’m writing to ask you to include something in the current copyright legislation that is underway. I’m sure I should have said something earlier . . . but since this is a work in progress, I expect there is still time.

In my work of preaching, I consider part of my role to be the critique of culture. There is a long and well established history of interpreting the pulpit in those terms. Certainly the civil rights movement would be the easiest and most significant example. Part of critiquing culture is the referencing, alluding to, or otherwise using cultural artifacts in the process of communicating. In our multimedia generation, that means making use of, or reference to, copyrighted material for illustrative, educational, or critical purposes.

Given the role of the pulpit in Christian circles, and assuming a parallel role for those of other faiths, I think the pulpit should share a place in the Canadian establishment of Fair Use policy within the new copyright act. Really, it’s a no-brainer. Along with education and the media, the pulpit shares a valid and vital role in our communities and should share similar rights.

I am not looking for churches to have wild free use of copyrighted material, especially not for fundraising or any other such project. What I am looking for is the freedom to fairly use copyrighted material in the course of our preaching ministry in a similar fashion to that employed by teachers for educational purposes.

The purpose of this freedom, again, is not for some profit, but is an expression of the reality that communicating in this culture requires multi-media expression, and critiquing culture requires relevant illustration. Clips of music or film and the display of images is foundational for 21st century preaching. The use certainly seems fair to me: it suggests no confusion of ownership; it has no financial motives or gain that would imply damages; and it serves the greater purposes of Canadian society by including the faith based pulpit in the cultural conversations of the Canadian public square.

Would you please seek to amend the currently proposed Copyright Act to allow churches and preaching ministries the Fair Use protection described above?

I might add an additional comment. DRM technology seems to me quite alarming. Copyright law is only fair when it clearly marks the termination of ownership after a set time, thereby reflecting the realistic dispersal of information, ideas, and symbols into the common culture. Technology which inhibits legitimate use beyond copyright time limits, or which forever eliminates the ability to exercise Fair Use is synonymous with the elimination of Fair Use. That would be a grievous step backwards for Canada since it would make Canada’s Fair Use provisions moot.

I know there is a great push from industry, but they threaten the legitimate freedoms of Canadian citizens, and we look to you to protect us. I look forward to your success in that regard.

I’ve sent a similar letter to the Prime Minister, and hope that together we can shape a Fair Use policy that includes the pulpit. Please don’t let the current cultural sidelining of the church and matters of faith keep what is right from being done.

Thanks so much – God’s blessing on your work and service,

Bob Davies

The state has one primary purpose.  It’s role is to prevent the control of some by others, and so to guard individual freedoms. Discerning the appropriate government role for most issues of violence, theft, international aggression and trade can be reconciled back to that foundational purpose.

That simple expression of the state’s primary purpose is not undermined if we should recognize honestly that some issues are obviously more complex.

Copyright law for example.

Taken too quickly, the libertarian commitment to laissez-faire capitalism might seem to resolve our current debates easily. Perhaps we’d expect to hear that since artists make something, they should be allowed total control of its use in perpetuity.  Or we’d expect a permissive or supportive nod to entertainment corporations and their certain right to private property, and so also whatever new versions of copyright law they would like to buy from our political and judicial systems.

But the matter is not that simple.

The purpose of copyright law is to establish a fair balance of individual freedoms.  We have the freedom to create.  We have the freedom to hold and use private property.  And we also have the freedom to use that which is not owned or ownable.  We only reach the boundary of our freedoms when we presume to control how another person may freely create, possess or use, and it is precisely at that point that the reality and complexity of our present situation concerning copyright becomes apparent.

Technological advancements have made possible not only the creation of new kinds of cultural artifacts, artistic expressions, and media, but also the powerful ability for some to control how these artifacts are used by others over time.  In tandem with the progressive redefinition of copyright law over the past two decades, we have permitted a severe imbalance of and infringement upon individual freedoms that will require a strong and courageous government hand to address.

Copyright law establishes a balance between the individual freedom of the creator of a cultural artifact and the expected later free use in the context of culture.  It provides protection for a creator while others purchase the first copies of their creation, but reasonable time limits recognize the reality that another set of individual freedoms exist which demand protection.  Those other individual freedoms are related to the notion of the ‘commons’.

The ‘commons’ refers to those things which cannot be owned by any one individual. Resources such as air, oceans, rivers, and perhaps even roads or parks.  When considering the great cultural artifacts and expressions of human kind, we refer to the creative commons. The notion of the creative commons is based on the recognition that all creative acts happen in the context of culture, and so ultimately find their expression, longevity, and honour in that milieu.  A person cannot claim that their creative acts, no matter how original they may be, have been created or exist in some kind of void apart from other individuals any more than a man who pees in a lake will be able to stand on the shore and identify the half litre of liquid that belongs to him.  Even more ridiculous would be someone pretending he never drank from the lake in the first place then preventing others from drinking from the lake because he thinks his contribution means they are potentially drinking his water.

Over time, the artifacts and ideas that individuals create become part of the open and free conversations between other free individuals in the public square.  That common space provides not only a market for new ideas, artifacts, and information, but is also the common resource which all artists and thinkers require and use:  it is the sole basis for allusion, flattery and critique.  For other individuals to be free to think and critique and create they must have free access to the cultural artifacts and ideas that populate the creative common public square.  The notion of a creative commons is absolutely necessary in order to establish a balance between – and so to protect – the practical individual freedoms of the artists, thinkers and creators of yesterday, today and tomorrow.  The firm time limits of copyright are the key means to that balance.

There is a tendency to interpret the ‘commons’ in collectivist terms, as an expression of that which is held or owned by all.  This is a grievous error.  It is that collectivist thinking which has diminished the potency of the notion of the commons.  Collectivist thinking actually attributes ownership of the commons to some nebulous sense of the ‘masses’, some glorified ridiculous romantic collective ‘we’.  This is one of the tragedies of the late 20th century.  Not only does the collectivist approach inevitably dissolve the practical meaning of real ownership, but it also  thoroughly undermines our sense of individual responsibility for that which is supposedly owned.  The idea that some great voice of the glorious collective ‘we’ will shout out on our behalf tempts us, as individuals, to stay silent when we should cry out.  While it appears to relieve individuals of the necessity of rising up and vociferously asserting their freedom, in practice, the glorious ‘we’ has no substance.  Collectives are nothing more than individuals together; without individuals who act because of their own sense of responsibility, they are merely ideas devoid of substance – and so also power.  It is indeed that lack of individual responsibility which has left us in this situation.

The question before us is not a debate between whether a cultural artifact is privately owned by an individual and whether some ‘we’ can take ownership at some future point in time.  Rather we face the fact that once an individual’s created artifact or idea is poured out into the public square, it is only a matter of time before it ceases to be practically ownable by anyone at all. Ideas and information, over time, disperse into the sea of ideas that surround us.  This means that, over time, the individual freedom for others to create and to use that which cannot properly be owned must also be protected.

Again, the claim is not that other individuals may suddenly appropriate another person’s property.  The claim is that the ongoing ownership of something poured into the midst of public conversation must have reasonable limits.  The creator, of course, has the option of withholding their artifact or idea and keeping it forever privately to themselves.  Artists are always free to create without any obligation to share or display their work.  But few ever do.  As each creator acknowledges the heroes who have inspired their own joy and new thoughts, so also they desire to play that role for others.  If not, they at least expect the world to give them money or even fame in exchange for their creativity.  Either way, they make their work public because they want something.  There is a cost for that want to be met.  The cost is that successful ideas and artifacts ultimately transcend the notion of ownership altogether.

How long before the assimilation of an individuals idea, information, or artifact into culture takes place?  The time limit needs to be realistic: not too soon, neither too long.  The rule used to be 7 years, and then was renewable up to 28.  More than a quarter century seems more than fair.  Given that, the current practice of extending copyright beyond a century is an absurd excess.  What individual could live that long and still require profit?  Only corporations seek that kind of long term profit and financial gain without providing any actual service; why should anyone make money off of any idea or song created before they were born?  What service is provided for that profit?  Keeping a digital file?  Citizens can do that themselves for free!  Promoting and advertising that product?  What company invests money in advertising and promoting hundred year old ideas?  No, these practices are, of course, based on the expectation is that the creation is an asset that should make money for whoever ‘owns’ it for as long as possible.  To permit that practice to continue for more than a century is a flagrant violation of the individual rights of others.

The practical reality in our culture is that after 3-5 years a popular idea or artifact is old.  New technology and art have overtaken the creative ideas of 3 years ago.  In a culture in which this pace of change and novelty is increasing along with the volume of creative works and ideas, the idea that copyright should be extended even longer is thoroughly crazed.  To the contrary, 5 year copyrights renewable 4 or 5 times make more sense.  They allow an individual 2 full decades to profit from their creative labours.  A firm new principle: corporations are not entitled to expect further profits based not on new creativity which they have facilitated and promoted, but rather on the idle practice of buying new law and so moving the posts of copyright law further ahead into time.  This vile corruption must be ended immediately.

Further, the technologies currently in use which are designed to limit the legitimate use of non-ownable artifacts and ideas beyond that 20 year mark violate the individual rights of all those who desire access to the creative common public square.  Currently, there is a preferred idea that digital information should be marketed as a kind of term lease, so that it would eventually break down or terminate after a set date.  This is contrary to the fair expectations of free individuals.  Digital Rights Management (DRM) software should protect the copyright holder for the expected duration of the copyright, 20 years for example, and then it itself should become inactive leaving the ideas, information and artifact to be free  for appropriate use.  The dissemination of  ideas and copies of created artifacts into culture means that they cease to be ownable over time – our copyright law and copyright technologies must reflect that truth.  As well, equally priced product free of any protections must be developed and made available for immediate fair use prior to the end of the copyright term.

In line with this necessity, the idea of limiting technologies with firmware DRM is also an absolute and gross violation of individual freedoms.  Ultimately the medium on which ideas and media are sold must permit copying, unless we are going to throw in the towel and admit that copyright is limitless insofar as time goes.  And what about other legitimate fair uses?  How can these be pursued if the hardware is unavailable or restricted?  Not to mention that current DRM practices limit more than simple copyright issues.  We are legally entitled by law to purchase, for example, DVD’s from other regions.  We are legally entitled to purchase machines that will play DVD’s from other regions.  But the current and proposed DRM firmware will stop that functionality.  Who are they to infringe on the individual legal rights of others?  All attempts at the technological level to limit legitimate free and fair use must be prevented and stopped.

By other fair uses above, I refer to the new Canadian law which is making space for news media and education to be free to use creative works.  DRM technologies mean that what the law gives with the right hand, corporations are illegitimately taking with their left.  The fact the courts are aware of these shady attempts at control, and posture in making policies that are in truth impotent, gives cause to question the degree to which current copyright laws are not expressions of principled governance and legal thoughtfulness, but are instead merely a sign that Canadian law can be bought at whim.

Let’s be clear that law which is purchased is no law, and accordingly citizens will soon consider themselves absolved from attending to her statutes.  Individual freedoms are not given by the state or courts – they pre-exist them.  The role of the state and her court is to protect that which already is, and if the law fails to do that, then citizens will cease to obey that law.  It is true that piracy is a symptom of a lack of respect for the law.  But that risks misstating the real problem.  Piracy today is perhaps more a measure of the degree to which individual citizens consider the law not worthy of being obeyed.  And again, as long as the law fails to protect individual freedoms, as long as it permits ridiculous redefinitions of what it means to buy a product, and as long as it appears to be the subject to the influence of money, corporate power, and other out-of-line influence, individual citizens’ respect for the law will continue to diminish.

It is worth commenting that the rights of individual educators and journalists are not the only ones that require protection.  The new Canadian law fails to take into account the pre-existent role of the pulpit in segments of our culture.  Historically, the pulpit has been at the centre of critiquing culture.  The civil rights movement, for example, started in the pulpit.  Today, the pulpit is no less significant as a muti-media means of communication and critique.  As such, it must be included under fair use provisions.

The Christian Libertarian is no advocate of anarchy or theft.  But, as a plea for the protection of the individual freedoms God has given to every citizen of this world, and due to the fact that we live in a creative common conversation where individual ideas are sown and blossom and feed beyond the range of our own lifetimes, we are right to expect the government adhere to its primary function and so craft law accordingly.

With thanks to Andy, whose mind always inspires and challenges me.



As an evangelical Baptist pastor I am very supportive of the separation of church and state.

But I wonder if you know what it really means? I have yet to see it discussed with any accuracy in the Canadian press.

Unfortunately the significantly under-informed secular media generally assumes and erroneously promotes the popular notion that the separation of church and state means that religious people will leave their beliefs at the door, or be forced to get out of politics – as though political actions will be instead be motivated by some religion-free agenda. They seem to envision a society and government free of any religious flavour, where one solitary group in our society alone, the adherents of secular thought, totally dominate the public square and so will be free from religion – never having to hear a religious word or thought in any public venue.

That is absolutely NOT what the separation of church and state has ever meant except in the weird totalitarian fantasies of secular pundits and their disciples in the media who worship at their anti-religious altar.   The separation of church and state is about the freedom of religion.  It is the freedom for religion.

It may surprise you to know that it was early Baptists and other Christian dissenters in England 400 years ago who were the primary developers of the concept of separation of church and state which ultimately shaped the American political expression of the idea. It was a part of their contention that dissenting Christians, Jews and Muslims should be free to practice their religion without any interference or punitive action by the Anglican government of the day.  The King, you’ll notice, might well remain head of church and state, but nevertheless could not restrict the religious beliefs or practices of others.

The separation of church and state does NOT mean, and has never meant, that religious people will be kept from influence and vigorous involvement in political or public life. It does not mean that references to religion will be kept out of public events. That, of course, would mean arbitrarily restricting a whole segment of the population on the basis of their beliefs, intentionally trying to keep them from democratic participation in the public square. That is precisely the opposite of the separation of church and state. The desire to target certain segments of society (in this case Christians or other religious advocates) and restrict them from public involvement is as abhorrent as any other form of tyranny and should be treated as such. It is a blatant and revolting bigotry; a disgusting feature of our current Canadian political climate. Secularism is not some religiously neutral alternative for society: it is simply another collection of beliefs about religious ideas – and so it must not be allowed special status among other beliefs.

What the separation of church and state actually means, instead, is that the state may not allow itself to be used as a big stick to make individual citizens or groups adhere to the beliefs or practices of any other group. It means that no matter how strongly people believe something, they may not use the government to force others to comply with the practices, rituals or activities that come from their beliefs. That’s all.

Most simply, the state may not be co-opted by a bunch of zealots or ‘true believers’ in anything in order to force others to adhere to their cause or practice. Doesn’t matter what the beliefs are – beliefs about God (whether he exists or not), beliefs about religion, about science, about the environment – the government is not a tool for you to get others to comply with your perception of the world. It is illegitimate and an overt act of evil to use the state to force others to submit to whatever you believe.

In contrast with the ridiculous and bigoted secular media myth that consistently gets misrepresented as separation of church and state, the actual assumption of advocates of a genuine separation of church and state is that believers in a variety of things will gather together freely and democratically to shape the society in which we live. As a result, the state will naturally reflect the beliefs of that democratic pool.  In a strange and even schizophrenic existence the state will participate in the religious life of the nation on occasion because it will fairly reflect the beliefs of her citizens. The crazed popular notion that citizens will simply leave their beliefs about religion behind when they get to the public square reflects a truly shallow understanding of how a person’s identity and psychology are constituted, and what a person’s beliefs in fact are. Worse, it represents a selective and inappropriate attempt to get religious people to adhere to the particular beliefs and practices of the secular agenda.

Again, the state may not in this fashion be co-opted by a bunch of zealots, and that, of course, is exactly what radical secularists are and what they intend to do – to grab government power and society and to shape them and the public behaviour of others according to their own peculiar beliefs about God (that he does not exist) and religion (that it is acceptable only in private), and so also to ensure that any reference to religion in any public forum whatsoever is struck down. That is a precise violation of the separation of church and state; it is nothing other than an evil attempt to misuse the power of the state to persecute those who don’t share secular beliefs.

Bottom line: the government is not a big stick for you to strike down others who disagree with you. Baptist Christians learned and taught that lesson 400 years ago. Now it is time for secularists, environmentalists and all other social control freaks to learn the same lesson.

I’m an evangelical Christian. My beliefs and practices are none of the government’s business. Period. And neither is my political involvement subject to evaluation or restriction by secular zealots or other anti-religious bigots and their government funded agencies. It’s none of your business why I think what I think or believe what I believe.  My life and my perception of the world and truth are not subject to your control or agenda.  And you who advocate such are the enemies of a free and democratic society, the enemies of the separation of church and state, and guilty of participating in the darkest threat western society faces today.

Premier Dalton McGunity has led his govermnent to back away from the proposed sex ed curriculum for Ontario schools.  Good move.  But not enough – for now the curriculum is simply shelved awaiting some ambiguous consultation process.  The people advocating this radical agenda are stalled, but not stopped.  Below is my letter to Premier McGuinty submitted before the government’s reversal.


Mr. McGuinty,

I am not happy.  In fact, I’m quite angry.  I am the father of two children, one daughter just shy of three, and the other a year-old boy diagnosed with Down Syndrome. I am a competent father who is capable of raising my children and teaching them what is required about our values, beliefs, mores and ethics.  I expect and insist that people with different values and mores check theirs at the door around my children.  That is my right as a father, and so I demand that the school back off topics that interfere with my rights in that regard.

I’ve heard about the plans for the sex-ed curriculum that my children will be exposed to in our ‘public’ school system.  If this school system wishes to remain public, then it had better rethink this idea fast.  Not everyone shares these social left values.  They are an expression of a certain peculiar perspective on society – beliefs about God, values and mores – and for that reason, in the same way that we keep religion out of the classroom, we’ll be keeping these ideas out too.  The state is not a tool with which secular statists can engineer the kind of society they want.  The classroom is not a place where certain groups in society are free to advance their idiosyncratic values.  That is exactly what this program represents.

There are no circumstances under which anyone other than my wife and I will speak to my ten year old daughter about anal sex, masturbation, female lubrication or anything else of that sort. If those conversations happened between an adult and my child in any other venue I would call the police immediately. And that is exactly what I plan to do. Even in the case of a doctor, at 10, I would be in the room.

There are also no circumstances where anyone will be speaking to either of my eight year old children about homosexuality. Period. That is my right, and is non-negotiable. Get away from my kids. Your values are not mine. We can live together in peace, but you violate that peace when you shove your beliefs down my kid’s throats. Back off.

Ah, you might say, but these teachers are trained to present some approved curriculum.

I don’t trust you. I don’t trust a teacher with this responsibility. And I certainly do not trust some statist backroom educational committees that are saturated with agenda driven, politicized and polemical individuals. I’ve seen the academic side of this stuff; I recognize the blatant social-left engineering.  The provincial government should be protecting us from these people. The sexualization and consumerization of our children is a REAL societal problem with REAL consequences.  You are participating in that sexualization and are creating an unmanageable situation where individual teachers will have to navigate conversations with children of varying maturity levels about explicit sexual behaviours. How will you ensure that no teacher is using these conversations for other personal sexual purposes? What do you plan to say when that finally happens – when some ill-motivated individual takes advantage of the environment created by these classroom discussions?

I might add that, if I were an elementary school teacher, I’d quit before being put in a position where I had to breach these topics with young children. This is ripe for misunderstandings and miscommunications. If I were a teacher the idea that my career could be ruined because of the curriculum’s content would leave me in an untenable position: especially if I were a young male teacher. Do you not remember ever being afraid of a teacher? Do you have no recollection of the first male teacher you had?  How can children in the third or sixth grade possibly process this material well when dispensed in the varied and complicated context of the elementary school classroom?

Stepping away from the hypothetical, what are we supposed to do to care for my daughter if some male teacher is the one to initiate these conversations. I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I will call the police. Because short of a criminal investigation, there is no way for me as a father to know if a teacher’s use of the curriculum is appropriate.

And what on earth do you think happens in the schoolyard afterward? Well I’ll tell you. I remember, clearly, a young girl in our schoolyard being tormented by boys who wanted to check and see of her pubic hair had come in. They told her if they found any they wanted to pluck them. That was kids in grade seven, who were receiving sex ed, targeting a girl in grade six. I know kids say things, but you want to introduce that kind of experience to children even younger? In a classroom of thirty kids, it takes only one or two with lesser maturity to terrorize other children – and you are opening the door for them. This is stupidity, irresponsibility, and the fact that this is even being considered one more reason why I do not trust the public system with my children.

I hear you politicians talk about protecting our children – but you are feeding situations that do not belong in our schoolyards. As far as I’m concerned you and your government are now part of the problem. I will protect my children from you, and there are no circumstances where this left wing education system will access my children regarding their political social engineering agenda.

I am a product of public education in Ontario, and we bought our home close to a school here in Kanata. My mom stayed home during my younger years and volunteered at the school for trips, in the library, and with community programs like block parents and our community association. I say this to illustrate that I came from a home, and so we are crafting a home, that can be healthy and supportive in its contribution to our public school and community.

Unfortunately, each time this kind of thing arises, we recognize that the extreme left values of the public system seem further and further away from those of our home, and that the government has no intention of protecting or including us. Public education in Ontario today appears to be a selective education system sensitive only to the needs and agendas of liberal elitists and the far left. It fails to understand the real hope of a vibrant multiculturalism, and seems to have fallen into the secular left’s absolutely ridiculous and erroneous idea that they are somehow neutral. They are not. They represent another belief system taking control of the education of our children at the expense of the variety of values held by the vast majority of people from all kinds of background and beliefs who want these matters dealt with in the home.

This morning, my wife and I discussed our options. Where we are not of the means to afford private education, and where home schooling isn’t realistic for us, we sometimes feel stuck in the public system.  So I’ll need to find a solution that satisfies our needs.

What that means, as far as I can figure right now, is that I’ll have to present myself to the teacher each year where this material is part of the curriculum, and explain that s/he will not communicate this material to my child in any way. My child will not be a part of lefty social-engineering, nor be taught values, mores or beliefs by a secular or morally ambiguous institution. Our values and mores will be taught in our home and church. During those class times, other options for my child will be created. I’ll try to help the teacher understand where I’m coming from, but if they seem to have trouble understanding me, or seem insistent on the party line, then we’ll be having the school switch our child’s class. Better up your budget for administration.

Further, if there is anything that seems inappropriate to me, I will be calling the police. There will be interviews and an investigation into what has been said in the classroom. And if I feel that my child as been adversely affected in any way by sexualized discussions in the classroom or school-yard, I’ll be examining aggressive legal action against the teacher, school, and province.

Get away from my children.