Jordan Peterson: Canadian Christians must ‘stand up’ for religious rights after top court ruling
June 20, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – In the wake of last week Friday’s devastating Supreme Court ruling on Trinity Western University’s proposed law school, in which all seven judges ruling against TWU admitted that they were about to violate TWU’s religious freedom but that this violation was of “minor significance” in the eyes of Canada’s highest court, many have been wondering: What do Christians in Canada do next? There are many answers to this question, of course--and one answer came recently from Canada’s most prominent public intellectual, Dr. Jordan B. Peterson.
Dr. Jordan Peterson does not claim to be an orthodox Christian himself—he has told interviewers that he is still working out what he believes on a variety of issues, including the Resurrection of Jesus Christ as a historical event, among others. But he firmly believes that our society will implode without the Judeo-Christian traditions and ethics it is built upon, and has gone so far as to say that he does not believe there is any such thing as a genuine atheist here in the West—Western skeptics, he says, are informed by Judeo-Christian ethics whether they recognize it or not. Unsurprisingly, he had much to say when Canadian political activist Faytene Grassechi asked him what “admonition” he had for Christians in the wake of the Trinity Western decision.
“Better stand up for yourselves, because your religious rights are very low on the rights totem pole at the moment,” Peterson warned, his voice deadly serious, “and that’s going to get worse, a lot worse, before it gets better. So if you think your religious freedom is worth having, you better be ready to defend it, and you better be ready to do that in an articulated way, because you’re not a priority—put it that way.”
Considering that these words come from a man who spent over a decade studying the development and implementation of totalitarianism—his Toronto home is filled with propagandistic Soviet paintings he picked up after the Wall came down—Peterson’s warning carries more weight than most.
When Grassechi asked him what practical things Christians could do to push back, Peterson barely hesitated. “It’s probably time to vote,” he noted. “It’s probably time to take an active role in the political world. I mean, our political institutions are quite functional compared to most political institutions. People don’t use them, and that’s generally because they work so well that you can ignore them. But I don’t think we’re at a point right now where you can avoid making the political personal, and that’s a sign that things are destabilized. If the traditional types are concerned about preserving what they have, and also having the right to continue to engage in their faith-based activities, then they better take a good, hard look at the people who are opposing that and decide what they’re going to do about it.”
Peterson’s observations here are profound in more ways than one. Many Christian communities have spent generations simply tending to their own—raising their kids, doing fundraisers for their private Christian schools and churches, and simply ignoring the government while expecting to be ignored in return. That is no longer an option. The State has a new ideology, and as the TWU ruling (a complete reversal of a 2002 ruling that favored Trinity Western) highlights, it is willing to enforce that ideology at the expense of those who find themselves guilty of heresies that were once orthodoxies. Christians cannot simply live and let live, because right across the country, Christians schools are fighting for their very existence. We can’t ignore politics anymore, because politics will not ignore us anymore.
Jordan Peterson, for his part, has been doing what he can to highlight the essential nature of faith in society. “What I’ve been trying to do is point out the psychological utility of some of these more traditional beliefs, especially the corpus of Judeo-Christian beliefs,” he told Grassechi. “I think we need a revamping of our understanding of the relationship between the fundamental religious presuppositions of our society and our political and economic institutions. I think we need to understand how they’re related more fundamentally, because I see the entire doctrine of individual sovereignty and individual rights as a logical extension of the Judeo-Christian notion that there’s a spark of divinity that characterizes each individual person, that we’re made in the image of God. That’s the metaphysical presupposition. I think those metaphysical presuppositions are unbelievably important and primary. And so I’d also say to the faith-based types: It’s time to take a great leap forward.”
Canadian Christians—and for that matter, Christians right across the West—should pay very close attention to Peterson’s warning. Religious liberty in Canada has been formally downgraded by seven of the Supreme Court’s nine justices. Trudeau’s government is implementing ideological purity tests to screen out Christians who show insufficient enthusiasm for the Sexual Revolution. Provincial politicians are targeting Christians schools, even threatening them with shutdown if they do not alter their teaching on biblical sexuality. But as Peterson points out, we live in a democracy. It is time that Canadians of faith took a good hard look at the politicians targeting us, and then band together to return the favor.