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Minority rights must be respected

Posted on June 24, 2015 by Taber Times

There is nothing more irksome than someone misrepresenting me.

The view of claiming majority rights of Christians does not represent me at all. I am a committed Christian, too, but I vigorously defend the rights of the minority to remain different and to be comfortable among us. My Christian conviction dictates that a civilized democratic country respects the rights of the minority and the vulnerable: such a country needs to be secular.

My father was a Methodist minister during the Second World War in Japan. He often did not come home after Sundays for a few days. Until recently I did not know that he spent those times interrogated about his sermons by “Tokko Keisatsu” – the Special Police Force like German Gestapo.

He was pressured to confess and declare the divinity of the emperor. He refused. The divinity of the Commander-in-Chief, the emperor, was the basis of the absolute power the military wielded.

Some ministers of religion were beaten to death during interrogation. Dad died soon after the end of the war at the age of 50 from the stress he suffered. This is the reason why Japanese Christians today are fierce advocates of the secular state: no official observance of any religion in public.

Orthodox churches in Egypt, Iraq, Palestine and Syria are ancient churches probably founded by the original Apostles. Today they are in minority, surrounded by Muslims and are sometimes persecuted.

In extreme cases, they are brutally killed as we observed recently in Libya, Iraq and Syria by extremists. This is why they advocate for secular states: no observance of any religion in public life. In Israel and Palestine, the minority Arab Orthodox Christians have been leaving the region in droves because of being a minority among Jewish and Muslims majority.

As a result, there are more Christian Palestinians living in Canada than in Jerusalem today. Some of them are descendants of the original Christians claiming the origin of their tradition to the Pentecost. I know one of them.

To me, the essence of the Gospel is inclusiveness, tolerance and universal love. Unfortunately, some of us who call ourselves Christians do not live up to that standard, and mistake dominance and exclusion as faithfulness. Have we not learned anything from the barbarous and tragic history of Indian Residential Schools?

TADASHI (TAD) MITSUI
Lethbridge

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