With so many big issues facing the country, it can be hard for people of faith to know how to approach the upcoming federal election. Fortunately, some faith-related organizations have prepared resources to help voters — guides to help people prayerfully, and carefully, consider how to cast their vote.
This includes the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, which has produced Voting as Catholics: A 2019 Election Guide.
"While Christian beliefs do not constitute a political platform, they can be seen as a prism through which to analyze and evaluate government policies, laws, and programs," the guide says.
Among the issues highlighted by the bishops are: caring for the vulnerable; the protection of human rights; reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples; and adequate funding for issues such as education, health care, housing, and the prevention and treatment of addictions.
The guide can be found at cccb.ca.
For Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Canada, the election is a time for Christians to "consider the political implications of our faith — a time to discern with humility how Jesus’ call to love our neighbours may be reflected in the public good."
Titled the 2019 Federal Election Primer, the resource highlights issues such as migration, Indigenous justice, restorative justice, climate change, and the conflicts in Palestine and Israel and Syria and Iraq. Find it at mcccanada.ca/stories/2019-federal-election-resource.
The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs has published the Federal Election Issues Guide to help Canadian Jews "consider the issues that matter most to you."
These include hate crimes and hate speech, the need for security at places of worship, maintaining diplomatic pressure on Iran, Canadian involvement in global terrorism, recognizing in tax law the value of volunteering, affordable housing, assistance for people with disabilities and ensuring federal elections don’t fall on Jewish holy days — as this one does.
It also calls for politicians to end the ban on blood donations by LGBTTQ+ Canadians. Find its guide at cija.ca.
As well, B’nai Brith has published a guide to where the political parties stand on issues of concern to Jewish voters — things like anti-Semitism, Israel and racism in general. Find it at bnaibrith.ca/communications_centre.
Noting that Christians are called to "actively seek the good of those around us and our country," the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) has published a collection of resources for the election. It includes information about what churches can and can’t do during an election, prayers and a list of issues they believe need attention.
For the EFC, this includes medical assistance in dying, prostitution, religious freedom in Canada, pornography, palliative care, human trafficking, refugees, poverty, homelessness, Indigenous issues, global poverty, the environment and abortion. Find it at evangelicalfellowship.ca/Topics/Citizenship.
I also asked a few faith community leaders in Winnipeg to share things they think should be highlighted during the election.
For Shahina Siddiqui, executive director of Islamic Social Services Association, the list would include things like the environment and climate change, women’s rights, Indigenous issues such as improving conditions on reserves and reconciliation with Indigenous people, religious freedom in Canada, racism, homelessness and poverty, and foreign aid.
Harold Jantz is the former editor of ChristianWeek. He is concerned about protecting the rights of those who hold more traditional views on issues like abortion and same-sex marriage.
"Ideas and values rooted in faith perspectives are quite frequently no longer viewed as progressive, however much they may have stood the test of time," he says.
He adds that "politicians vying for public support find it very difficult to support positions which aren’t viewed as progressive. This is often observed at election times and certainly in the present race."
Things that concern Jewish community leader Belle Jarniewski include anti-Semitism, racism and anti-immigrant sentiment in Canada. She would also like to hear politicians talk more about the environment, homelessness and poverty, and propose concrete ways to promote reconciliation with Indigenous people.
Christian Martinez, director of communications services for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Winnipeg, sent a list of items from the archdiocese. It includes abortion, climate change and the environment, poverty reduction, immigration and refugees, conscience rights and freedom of religion, health care, prison reform, palliative care and more support for families.
That’s a lot of issues! Maybe there’s something in there that resonates with you — something you want to learn more about for when a candidate comes to your door.
John Longhurst has been writing for Winnipeg's faith pages since 2003. He also writes for Religion News Service in the U.S., and blogs about the media, marketing and communications at Making the News.
The Free Press acknowledges the financial support it receives from members of the city’s faith community, which makes our coverage of religion possible.
Updated on Thursday, October 3, 2019 at 4:39 PM CDT: corrects name of Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops