Late last month, Nanaimo-Alberni MP James Lunney announced his resignation from the Conservative government to sit as an independent so he could better defend his religious views, which he claimed were under attack.
The context – in case you’ve been under a rock for the last few weeks – is that Lunney jumped to the defence of an Ontario politician by chiding naysayers to stop calling evolution fact, which eventually made national news.
He then called a press conference to his office last week to explain to constituents why he did what he felt he had to do to defend himself and his religious beliefs against the media-touting evolutionism.
‘The media is being mean to me’ is not a complaint that’s going to go over well for a parliamentarian with 15 years’ experience under his belt. On the scale of meanness of media – especially the Twitterverse – Lunney’s experience rates pretty low.
I don’t subscribe to any organized religion, nor do I identify with the atheist movement. I was raised without religion, so I often fail to understand the degree to which Lunney and others like him adhere to their scripture.
That’s not to say I don’t have respect for religion. Some of its basic tenets – love, acceptance, charity – are great ideals that should be the goal of any civilized society. I have friends and family whom I accept with their beliefs, and they in turn accept me for my lack thereof.
But what Lunney wants is not religious freedom; he wants the ability to spout off his beliefs and never be called on them. Or mocked because of them.
One of the great things about science and research is debate. Good scientists check their ego at the door and undertake research with a goal of discovery. That research is made better by peer review, an opportunity to find flaws, debate and discuss findings with the goal to improve on what came before.
Lunney, and anyone else for that matter, is entitled to his or her religion and to speak his or her mind. But he must accept that airing his views, especially when he has a national platform afforded to people in his position of power, will bring dissent and debate. In his position of power, he must be ready to respectfully debate and defend his beliefs.
Lunney is not engaging in debate. His mind is set and based on his behaviour at his press conference last week, he’s not interested in arguing evolution unless you agree with his position.
What is fact is Lunney is not running in the next election; his irrelevancy means we can probably stop devoting so much ink to his antics.
It will be up to a new slate of candidates to decide whether they can operate in the House of Commons while adhering to their religion.