In the wake of a recent "sea change" in the Government of Canada, there has been a considerable amount of attention given to the matter of the continuance of the Office of Religious Freedom (ORF). As it happens, the Canadian ORF represents an issue that has risen in various shapes and forms within a number of countries genuinely and fashionably wrestling with the concept of religious freedom as one of the foundational rights of all human rights. "Human rights," those inalienable tenets upon which many societies purport to base their constitutional laws and other societal principles.

One of the first things we must all embrace is the reality that our "Creator God" spoke not only what was void into form, but that He also wove His laws and very nature into every fibre of the universe. This includes the freedom with which all humankind is imbued -- to choose how we shall live and what we shall believe. In Joshua 24:15, the leader of the Israelites unashamedly made his own personal declaration clear:

"And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" (ESV).

On Monday, March 21st, our Members of Parliament "sat" and debated the subject of the ORF, and the possible extension of its mandate under the new Liberal government. The outcome of this debate was an announcement by the Liberals that, in its present form, the ORF would be dismantled. Following the deliberations, I wrote the following editorial which was posted on our VOMC Facebook page the next day:

"So the topic of the day seems to be 'Religious Freedom.' Well, nothing's 'free' or so they say...a reality that was vividly exemplified by vigorously constrained debate in the House of Commons yesterday regarding the fate of the Office of Religious Freedom (ORF). Established three years ago by the Conservative government, with a mandate to define and defend the time-honoured pluralism that has for decades signified the 'faith-mosaic' that is 'Canada,' the ORF appears to be next up to the political chopping block that is cutting away anything that doesn't look like a Liberal invention.

"Don't get me wrong, the Liberal government consists of good people who will defend Human Rights on behalf of all Canadians, and we will pray for them as our leaders. But, at this point, it is apparent that their intention is to subsume the 'guts' of the original ORF within the new government's Human Rights silo. Without the modest investment of the original $5 million ORF budget, I fear there will be a dilution of the saltiness and efficiency of the original ORF mandate in deference to the rights-oriented issues of the day without the expression of the fundamental underpinning of the beliefs and faith practices of all Canadians."

Please join us in praying for our leaders -- and for our government in general -- that all Canadians would have the opportunity to continue enjoying the freedom to choose what they believe. And let us pray that the increasingly apparent predominance of persecution against the Christian community throughout the world would subside into a sea of love and compassion that is foremost modelled by the Christian church of Canada.

In Christ,

Doug J. McKenzie
Chief Executive Officer
The Voice of the Martyrs Canada