There is something to be said about creating an environment of trust or giving hope to people. Or not.
Sadly with the pandemic, Alberta is growing, if not already, a province severely divided.
At one time, the division in Alberta was a simplistic Edmonton vs. Calgary or even the urban vs. rural: “Who cares about the rural area, no one lives there,” vs. “the urban people get everything from government, we don’t matter.”
In April 2021, with all the pandemic fears either health or economic, the overall confusion with Covid (Covidiots vs. Antimaskers), those who have continued mistrust with government which includes failed economics ideals, what seems like open political social media and policy warfare against two basic staples of society: education and health in the name of saving money for economic ideals which have failed (petroleum, coal etc.), environmental concerns, Alberta society is truly a mess. And now we have another area of turmoilâ€¦ a new spin on separation of church and state. It has always been a sore point with a lot of people on both sides of the fence.
Lethbridge writer and fine independent journalist Kim Siever tweeted out an official letter from Leela Sharon Aheer, Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women which was sent to churches all across the province over the weekend. In it, the Government of Alberta will declare a Day of Multi-Faith Prayer and Reflection on April 6. The letter encouraged “faith leader and community members to share their own reflections and messages of hope on social media, using the hashtags #shareyourprayerAB and #shareyourreflectionAB.”
It goes on to say “Sharing our reflections will provide a valuable opportunity for Albertans to leverage the teachings within these spiritual practices to promote compassionate reflection, acts of kindness and intercultural understanding among us all as we continue to face the challenges of the pandemic together, honouring lives lost and inspiring hope going forward.”
Of course, any opportunity and there have been many as the Alberta provincial government continues to serve up many opportunities to be criticized on freshly-polished silver platters, the separation of church and state is now the latest to be ostracized.
The problem is that everyone has to be treated equal and the perception right now is that it is not and whether it is fair or not, everything is being combined into one bowl. There is a drop of poison which affects and taints everything else.
Critics reference the new K to 6 curriculum recommendations are judged to be Christian-centric. Minus Grace Life Church pastor James Coates’s arrest and subsequent release in Spruce Grove, there is the failure and lack of persecution of Alberta Health Services regulations regarding the arrogant flaunting of the Grace Life’s mask policy and congregation size. The RCMP attend the services yet nothing happens. There has been open hostility to the media covering the situation which is ironic considering the Church obviously wanted to make it a spectacle.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Since the time of the writing of the editorial, at the enforcing of AHS and with the RCMP attending, on the morning of April 7, a wire fence has been constructed which surrounds the church).
When once-revered Alberta Chief Medicine Officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw takes to social media now, she has complaints and even messages for her to resign for having “sold-out” to Premier Jason Kenney and Health Minister Tyler Shandro and rushing the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, especially with the vast spreading of variants.
It is a sad state of affairs for anyone who is Christian or of any strong religious base for that matter to be public in their beliefs. The church and worshipping rules find themselves in court and even leaders of different churches calling each other out.
Government’s role is to enforce rules, constitutional rights, but to influence opinionsâ€¦ no.
Each Albertan needs to find faith within themselves first. Whether you are agnostic, atheist, Christian, Muslim, Islamic or as an indigenous person, live your life as one with the Creator/Great Mystery or in Lakota the Great Spirit Wakan Tanka, we all have our beliefs.
The government can send out a message the day of but to try to encourage a forced love of religion, no matter what particular faith, is something which the church and state need to be separated.
Albertans are severely losing faith in government and each other. The provincial government should let everyone do their own form of praying or hoping for a return to an overall healthy society. Faith comes from within and should be left that way.