Toronto churchgoers question morality of attack ads, neutrality of church in federal election
Sitting at the College Street United Church, parishioner Doreen McKenzie tells the story of how years ago one churchgoer was angered that the minister had insulted Brian Mulroney.
“She was so angry that the minister was saying rude things about Mulroney,” McKenzie said. “She actually stood up in the middle of his sermon and said, ‘Stop picking on him’.”
The members of the College Street United Church gathered on Thursday afternoon for a luncheon to discuss the election from a Christian point of view.
Reverend Les Hills said he wanted to have a chance to discuss with the parishioners something that went beyond their typical bible study.
“In old days sometimes the minister would tell their church how to vote. I just wanted to have a discussion about the election,” Hills said.
The topics ranged from the neutrality of the church, to the morality of attack ads, to whether it is Christian-like to support war and military spending.
Silke Dorego, a German immigrant, had strong feelings about what role church leaders should play in politics.
“It is fine for these church leaders to have an opinion, in private conversation, or if I invite you to my house,” Dorego said. “But they should never bring up politics at Sunday service.”
Hills brought up the heavily debated use of attack ads, which have been used by both the Liberals and the Conservatives this election. Hills questioned how Christian it is to use them in politics. Hills said the ads are something every Christian should think about.
“The leaders of the party’s would all say that they are good Christians. The impression is that as a good Christian you have a certain sense of piety. Using these attack ads are not very Christian,” Hills said. “We are called to love our neighbours and sometimes it is isn’t easy to do. Do we suspend that for four to six weeks during the campaign season?”
Church member Phyllis Elliott said she is more likely to vote for someone with good values rather than just someone who says they are Christian.
“It doesn’t matter to me if they say they are a Christian or not. It is the way that they act that is important. You can be a good person and not be a Christian. They can still do a great job.”
The rest of the group all nodded their heads in agreement.
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