Will spiritual awakening in the churches claim Canada as a ‘nation under God’?

The celebration of Canada’s 100th birthday will be the largest and most lavish the world has seen. Montreal’s Expo ’67—a $500 million window on “Man and His World”—will presumably attract more than six million visitors from sixty or more nations. And the Centennial is already under way. On New Year’s Eve, Prime Minister Lester Pearson lit a Centennial Flame as bells from 22,000 churches pealed the start of the great celebration. Throughout the nation, many are already enjoying a kaleidoscopic offering of cultural and historical activities.

Responsible celebrations by Canadians could very well point to this vast land as a “nation under God.” That hopeful slogan is a far cry from the phrase used to describe the early rendezvous of the founders of Prince Edward Island: “the reeking slough of debauchery.” Much has happened to give new perspectives to the world in which the nation of Canada was born. When Queen Victoria gave assent to the British North America bill on March 29, 1867, the two-century-old provinces of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia had a population of 3.5 million, almost what the thirteen states of America had had when they declared their independence ninety years earlier. Today the original four provinces have increased to ten, with the addition of two territories, and the population of the nation has swelled to nearly 20 million. Two million Canadians claim membership in one or another of the six major Protestant denominations.

What has the Church accomplished in the last 100 years? What have been its failures? At a time when the government of Canada will say little about the role of the Church in shaping Canada’s past, ...

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