Canadian and American media have been covering a confrontation in a Toronto street in which neighbours gathered together to get rid of a group of Christians who were preaching on their street. They claimed that they were standing in defence of a homosexual who lived there and who they claimed the Christians were targeting. In the days following this altercation, it became clear that the Christians were not targeting anyone in particular and even the homosexual resident spoke up in defense of the right of the Christians to be there.
But what is telling about this whole debacle is not the minor skirmish but the comments from the public in response. Over 900 comments are below this Globe & Mail article, many of them spewing hatred against Christians. One reader writes “This needs to happen more frequently… People need to stand up against these religious conservative wacko’s.” Another writes “I can’t believe how much restraint they showed, I personally would not have been so kind.” And one more opined “Religious zealots of all stripes should be done away with, IMO.” And these are the comments that are allowed by the website’s editor (many more have been removed).
How do we respond? The Bible has many things to say about how to answer a fool. As the book of Proverbs reminds us, sometimes the best response is to remain silent. Their claims of being tolerant Canadians will be revealed for the lies they are. Even more powerful than silence is to respond with love. In Matthew 5 Jesus urges us to “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” In that same chapter He calls us to turn our cheek to the one who strikes us. He also encourages us with these words “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” We can dispel the nasty comments by living as salt and light in our communities and country.