Dear Minister Dix:
It goes without saying that your tenure as health minister has been the most challenging in the history of British Columbia, and as a citizen of Canada and resident of the province of British Columbia, I thank you for all the seen and unseen efforts you have made on all our behalf.
That said, I feel compelled as a faith leader to request that people of faith be given the respect that is so overtly presented to every other particular group in this great province.
The constant condescension by Dr. Henry, purporting to tell us “what faith is” and the endless patronization – as if the government “understands” anything at all about what constitutes faith itself, let alone its practice – has long past worn thin.
It is apparent that you, sir, have some part of you that does understand faith, that does comprehend and appreciate that effectively closing houses of worship for most of the past year – denying fellowship, and lamely proposing anemic alternatives – is embarrassing and beneath all of us. I appeal to that part of you: give faith communities respect.
I appreciate that you may, in your position, both believe and feel compelled to maintain your position in terms of health orders. That is your purview, and is perhaps beyond your ability to do otherwise.
However, what you have the liberty to do in this season is to please stop pretending that videos and emails are in some way theologically, spiritually, and humanly sufficient to “carry on.” Surely your Anglican roots impressed upon you the critical and vital appreciation that Immanuel – God-With-Us…Jesus – came physically to engage the visceral humanity in all of us. There is not only no replacement for the physically proximal, but to remotely convey such condescension is unconscionable and, in fact, inhuman.
Good sir, I beg you: at the risk of alienating permanently the approximately two million British Columbians who practise religion, at least stop pretending that there is somehow a virtual replacement for thousands of years of physical, incarnational ministry. Tell us this is wrong. Tell us this is not OK. Tell us this is, in fact, an evil, however necessary, and stop with the platitudes. We are in your corner, but cannot for much longer be told this “isn’t a big deal” when it comes to practising a faith more than a dozen times older than the nation of Canada itself.
As an authority over us, we pray for you. As fellow human beings, we see the toll on you and your peers. What I ask of you is not to change a thing, other than the simple act of changing the way you speak to religious people. This endless charade of containment has robbed the approximately two million-plus residents of B.C. who participate in regular worship of vital, irreplaceable and hard-won freedoms that are deeply wounding to have taken from us. I believe you in some way appreciate this.
Today’s offer of a government-hired “guru” to “help us figure out” how to “do our holidays” was frankly, a PR disaster. Faith leaders from traditions dating back to Ancient Rome or earlier don’t require the province of British Columbia to find or source us “help.” We can manage, thanks. But what we would appreciate is some respect for what you have taken from us, the cost to our people, and an acknowledgment that nothing replaces what we have laid down in order to support you and your efforts.
Rev. Aaron Dyck
Gateway Baptist Church, Victoria
(raised in Abbotsford)
(Editor’s Note: Rev. Aaron Dyck was initially connected with Gateway Baptist Church in Surrey, when in fact he is from the Gateway Baptist Church in Victoria.)