In responding to the Covid-19 pandemic governments around the world have issued emergency declarations which, among other things, have significantly limited or banned public gatherings including religious services and meetings. Some Christian individuals and churches have characterized these restrictions as egregious violations of religious rights and engaged in acts of protest, civil disobedience, and legal challenges to assert their rights. While I agree that governments often use crises to extend control over individuals and society and that religious freedoms are often threatened in contemporary Western societies, I do not believe that Covid restrictions in Canada are a significant example of the latter. In this talk I will explore these issues, argue that religious freedom is a key element in establishing peace and prosperity in civic space, and make the case for a Christian approach to establishing, extending, and defending that principle.
Alan Sears is a Professor Emeritus in the Faculty of Education at the University of New Brunswick. He has been an educator for more than 40 years teaching at all levels from grade 2 to graduate school. His research has focused on citizenship and civic education, history education, educational policy, and the intersection of religion and education. He has spoken and published widely in these areas. His latest book, coauthored with Penney Clark, is The Arts and the Teaching of History: Historical F(r)ictions, and he is currently working on a book titled Rescuing Reason: The Democratic Imperative of History Education which is about refocusing education on preparation for informed, effective, and humane civic engagement.