Peace, Order & Good Government: Mennonites & Politics in Canada: 1999 J. J. Thiessen Lecture Series
This booklet expands upon Regehr's lectures in which he argues that demgraphic and political shifts in how Mennonites engage the Canadian federalist democracy leave today's Mennonites with an uncertain hermeneutic. The Mennonites are no longer exclusively ethnic. A demographic typology includes those who are ethnic and committed to the Mennonite church, ethnic and non-churched, non-ethnic and part of the Mennonite church, or ethnic and part of another denomination. Concurrent with this demographic shift, the politics of Canadian Mennonites has changed from alternating swings of martyrdom and patronage, to a disproportionately high representation in elections and candidacies - roughly one-quarter of the recent Manitoba provincial candidacies.
When Canadian Mennonites were still essentially an ethnic and newly settled population, they received through negotiation with the federal government a number of "special concessions," such as exemption from conscription, as well as autonomous German-language education. Mennonites, in turn, were expected to repay these privileges by being law-abiding citizens who could make positive contributions to the budding Canadian economy through agricultural production. But to the extent that Mennonite church life, state-societal engagement and education posit a radical concept of discipleship., this community of faith faces hard political choices. Do Mennonites opt for pragmatic political order and good governance, or radical pacifist discipleship? Regher finds that they choose the former over the latter, though without a well-articulated Mennonite theology for today's democratic processes.
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