‘SHOULD A PERSON OF “RELIGIOUS FAITH” BE ELECTED TO PUBLIC OFFICE?”

‘SHOULD A PERSON OF “RELIGIOUS FAITH” BE ELECTED TO PUBLIC OFFICE?”

 

http://bit.ly/1uH301D

 

Alberta Premier Jim Prentice’s appointment of Gordon Dirks as Alberta’s new education minister has come under fire because of Mr. Dirks’ religious affiliation. He serves as an executive Pastor of a church that holds the traditional view on marriage being between a man and woman and sees homosexuality as a sin. Liberal Education Critic, Kent Hehr, praised Mr. Dirks’ long history of public service but he feels that the minister needs to clarify his religious views.

The question that should be considered is, “Why does Gordon Dirks need to clarify his religious view?” While on one hand it is appropriate to ensure that human rights are not compromised by religious beliefs of politicians, just because you adhere to a particular religious faith group does not mean that automatically it can be assumed that you are unable to do your job in a non-judgmental and objective manner. The issue should not be whether or not you have a particular religious conviction, but that you do not misuse your position to influence or coerce others. Some people have argued that when Gordon Dirks served as a public school trustee, he did just that, when he supported allowing faith-based schools to be part of the public system. Within this issue, however, he was not pushing any specific beliefs on parents or children; he was simply allowing more choice.

As a former teacher and Chairman of Calgary Public School Board, Gordon Dirks has the experience to do the job of Education Minister well. He should be judged on his credentials, not his religious beliefs. His focus will be on serving the needs of all Alberta youth, including gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual students. There are individuals in many human services roles such as doctors, teachers and social workers that have strong religious views, but their ability to do there job is not questioned. The same should hold true for our political leaders.

If Gordon Dirks were to make choices that did not reflect the mission of public education, only then should he need to “clarify” his religious views. Mr. Hehr also needs to be reminded that “public education” in Alberta consists of many religious faiths and should not be confused with a “public school board” although even within a public school board students practice a wide variety of faiths. Based on Mr. Dirks’ history he appears capable of considering the diversity of the students and families he is serving. It is important to remember Mr. Dirks own words, when he accepted this position. He pledged to work in conjunction with school boards, teachers and parents saying, “effective public education is based on that type of cooperatively working effectively. Its simply not about the minister of education, it is about a team of people working effectively. “

Mnicole#200

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3 thoughts on “‘SHOULD A PERSON OF “RELIGIOUS FAITH” BE ELECTED TO PUBLIC OFFICE?”

  1. Thank you for your insight on this Albertan topic. I think that you bring up an interesting side of defense for how we imagine a liberal democratic politician should act, and that is in a non-biased fashion. We can only hope that that is how Minister Dirks will act.

    Although, this blog also provokes questions on how (a) Hehr defines ‘clarify’ and (b) how ideology typically aligns with religious worldview.

    First, I’m interested in what Hehr means with “clarify”. Is it to suggest that Minister Dirks should bluntly layout his religious beliefs? Is it to suggest that Minister Driks should refine his beliefs to fit the secularity of government? I don’t know if either of those prepositions would change the way he constructs his policy in a more beneficial, non-biased way.

    Second, political ideology has always had ties to how a person claims religiousity – in enormous, but sometimes minimal ways. So, if Dirks’s affinity to Christianity is a reason for his progressive conservativism rather than another, then there shouldn’t be a reason to request him to “clarify” that, especially to the public. His partisanship to which party he belongs to depends on his worldviews and that will guide his policy, but not his dissmisal of public interest that is necessary in liberal democracy. Religiousity is important, but when given power in a secular liberal democracy, then it is the people who matter more.

  2. Thank you for your insight on this Albertan topic. I think that you bring up an interesting side of defense for how we imagine a liberal democratic politician should act, and that is in a non-biased fashion. We can only hope that that is how Minister Dirks will act.

    Although, this blog also provokes questions on how (a) Hehr defines ‘clarify’ and (b) how ideology typically aligns with religious worldview.

    First, I’m interested in what Hehr means with “clarify”. Is it to suggest that Minister Dirks should bluntly layout his religious beliefs? Is it to suggest that Minister Driks should refine his beliefs to fit the secularity of government? I don’t know if either of those prepositions would change the way he constructs his policy in a more beneficial, non-biased way.

    Second, political ideology has always had ties to how a person claims religiousity – in enormous, but sometimes minimal ways. So, if Dirks’s affinity to Christianity is a reason for his progressive conservativism rather than another, then there shouldn’t be a reason to request him to “clarify” that, especially to the public. His partisanship to which party he belongs to depends on his worldviews and that will guide his policy, but not his dismissal of public interest that is necessary in liberal democracy. Religiousity is important, but when given power in a secular liberal democracy, then it is the people who matter more.

  3. Gordon dirk should not be denied opportunity, due to his religious values, to fulfill the responsibilities as Alberta Education Minster because that is discrimination. I agree with the arguments stated in this blog to support Dirk, however to suggest the minister will remain “non-judgmental and objective” would be neglecting the concept of worldviews. Worldviews are
    connected to philosophies, the rationale or logic behind our thinking, and will influence our actions. Looking at Walter’s article “On the Idea of Worldview and its relation to Philosophy,” worldviews can “yield or are equivalent to” philosophy (pg. 3). If worldview produces our logic or is equal to how we rationalize, Gordon Dirk will not be completely objective as he will see things through a Christian lens. Though, complete objectivity is nearly impossible and Dirk should not be blamed. This is why it is increasingly important to understand a person’s background so we can critically assess their behavior/actions. The question is not if religious individuals should be public figures, but if the sacred and secularized can be separated. Even doctors may be unable to separate the two, like the Calgary doctor who refused to prescribe birth control pills because it was against her religion. In Dirk’s case, his prior experience would reveal that if he had any intention of converting or disrespecting youth, it would have been done already being the former chairman of the CBE. One must still wonder if the Alberta Minster of Education was a regular practitioner of African traditions involving sorcerer or witchcraft, would he still be given the opportunity?

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