Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix during a COVID-19 update. (B.C. government)

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix during a COVID-19 update. (B.C. government)

Dr. Bonnie Henry denies ‘constant condescension’ to faith community

‘It’s not condescension, it’s gratitude,’ Health Minister Dix tells Reverend Dyck

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix responded Thursday to what appears to be a growing gulf between themselves and some members of the faith community concerning the messaging coming out of their COVID-19 briefings.

Reverend Aaron Dyck, of Gateway Baptist Church, has written an open letter to Dix in which he wrote he feels “compelled as a faith leader to request that people of faith be given the respect that is so overtly presented to every other particular group in this great province.

“The constant condescension by Dr. Henry, purporting to tell us ‘what faith is’ and the endless patronization – as if the government ‘understands’ anything at all about what constitutes faith itself, let alone its practice – has long past worn thin,” the reverend wrote.

Henry’s response to this Thursday was that she thinks people sometimes “take what I say and twist it to make their own ideas about it.

“I have repeatedly said that I have taken advice and have had the privilege of speaking to many faith leaders in the last few months and I appreciate their advice immensely,” she told the Now-Leader.

Henry said she’s learned a “tremendous amount” from faith leaders and has said on occasion what she’s been told about beliefs and about faith. “And I do absolutely believe that we need our faith leaders in crises like these, more than ever before, and I really want to give my thanks and praise to the many, many leaders out there who have sent me their advice, their thinking, their thoughts, and the fact that they do understand we need to take measures to protect those that we care most about in our community right now.”

READ ALSO: Celebrating Easter in Surrey, during COVID-19

READ ALSO LETTER: Please, some respect for what you have taken

Henry said she doesn’t purport to know everybody’s ideas about faith, but knows there are “great leaders” in that community who are “stepping up every day and supporting the people they care about in their congregations and doing it in a safe way, and I just want salute them – they have my gratitude, and my admiration.”

In his letter to Dix, the reverend wrote, “Good sir, I beg you: at the risk of alienating permanently the approximately two million British Columbians who practise religion, at least stop pretending that there is somehow a virtual replacement for thousands of years of physical, incarnational ministry. Tell us this is wrong. Tell us this is not OK. Tell us this is, in fact, an evil, however necessary, and stop with the platitudes. We are in your corner, but cannot for much longer be told this “isn’t a big deal” when it comes to practising a faith more than a dozen times older than the nation of Canada itself.”

What faith leaders would appreciate, Dyck told Dix, is “some respect for what you have taken from us, the cost to our people, and an acknowledgment that nothing replaces what we have laid down in order to support you and your efforts.”

The health minister’s response to the reverend is that the provincial government, since the outset of the pandemic, has listened to and reached out to hundreds of faith leaders across B.C. He admitted his idea of faith is not necessarily shared by everyone, but added that “I can tell Reverend Dyck that at our church, that we’ve lost a lot of loved ones this year, including our minister, and the loss of being able to come together on Sunday has been profound for members of that congregation just as they have been for congregations around B.C.”

Dix said he’s “overwhelmingly” inspired by the work done by faith communities of all faiths and all denominations to support people in their communities during this difficult time.

“All I can say is it’s not condescension, it’s gratitude that we feel for the support we get in our community, wherever we find it,” Dix told the Now-Leader. “And for many people, that’s in communities of faith. So, we’re with you and we’re asking you to join us in helping in this period to help heal, heal ourselves physically, and protect ourselves and our good health, and also stay healed and stay better as a community.

“I think Dr. Henry has been unbelievably respectful,” Dix said in her defence. “I so admire her approach when she talks about kindness, which is at the core I think of many faiths’ views as well. She lives that every day and I’m so, so proud to stand with her and I just so disagree with the criticism that came in the letter.”



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook and follow Tom on Twitter

CoronavirusSurrey

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Staff at Acropolis Manor, a Prince Rupert long-term health care facility in April 2020 where no cases of COVID-19 were reported until an outbreak on Jan. 19, 2021. As of Jan. 25th, 32 people associated with the residence have tested positive for the virus. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Staff at Acropolis Manor a Prince Rupert long term health care facility, take pride in their work place that no COVID-19 cases have been reported in the facility during the pandemic.This photo taken, April 20, from outside, looking through a window shows staff adhering to strict protocols and best practices to keep residents happy and healthy. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
COVID-19 numbers increase at Acropolis Manor – 32 infected

Prince Rupert man concerned about temp. staff from out of region working at long-term care facility

Ken Veldman vice president, public affairs and sustainability, at Prince Port Port Authority on Jan. 21 addressed local employers in an online presentation about a new community recruitment program to attract employees to Prince Rupert. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
New recruitment campaign to be launched in Prince Rupert

Web platform will use community collaboration to attract new employees to Prince Rupert

People skate on a lake in a city park in Montreal, Sunday, January 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
The end of hugs: How COVID-19 has changed daily life a year after Canada’s 1st case

Today marks the one year anniversary of COVID-19 landing in Canada

Wet’suwet’en supporters and Coastal GasLink opponents continue to protest outside the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, February 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
‘We’re still in it’: Wet’suwet’en push forward on rights recognition

The 670-km Coastal GasLink pipeline was approved by B.C. and 20 elected First Nations councils on its path

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Employers might be able to require COVID-19 vaccination from employees: B.C. lawyer

‘An employer must make the case’ using expert science, explains lawyer David Mardiros

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
Canadian, American rescue crews searching for missing aircraft in waters near Victoria

The search is centered around the waters northeast of Port Angeles

Jonathon Muzychka and Dean Reber are wanted on Canada-wide warrants. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Convicted killer, robber at large after failing to return to facility: Victoria police

Dean Reber, 60, and Jonathon Muzychka, 43, may be together

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
30% of B.C. recovery benefit applications held up in manual review

The province says 150 staff have been reassigned to help with manually reviewing applications

Adam Dergazarian, bottom center, pays his respect for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in front of a mural painted by artist Louie Sloe Palsino, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Kobe Bryant’s presence remains strong a year after his death

Tuesday marks the grim anniversary of the crash that took their lives

Surrey RCMP are investigating after a pedestrian was struck and killed at 183 Street and Highway 10 Friday night. (File photo)
Modelling of predicted transmission growth from the B117 COVID-19 variant in British Columbia. (Simon Fraser University)
COVID-19 variant predicted to cause ‘unmanageable’ case spike in B.C: report

SFU researchers predict a doubling of COVID-19 cases every two weeks if the variant spreads

The Brucejack mine is 65 km north of Stewart in northwestern B.C. (Pretivm Photo)
B.C. mine executives see bright gleam in post-COVID future

Low carbon drives demand for copper, steelmaking coal

In this Dec. 18, 2020 photo, pipes to be used for the Keystone XL pipeline are stored in a field near Dorchester, Neb.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Chris Machian /Omaha World-Herald via AP
Canadians divided over Keystone pipeline, despite U.S. president’s permit pullback

Two-thirds of Canadians think Biden’s decision was a “bad thing” for Alberta

Most Read