RELIGIOUS FREEDOM AT THE CROSSROADS

Crossroads Christian Communications that produces the long running 100 Huntley Street television program has been under intense scrutiny recently.  Crossroads has received a $544,813 grant from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) to build wells and dig latrines in the African country of Uganda.  (Crossroads claims they have invested $35 million in relief work worldwide with $3.2 in Uganda) None of this is particularly newsworthy as this is the sort of thing Canada does all the time.  Governments are not able or equipped to do foreign relief work themselves and therefore funds are granted to NGO’s (non-government organizations) that are on location doing the actual work.  This story exploded when gay activist freelance journalist Justin Ling did a story for the Globe and Mail pointing out that Crossroad’s holds a ‘radical’ religious position on sexuality that believes homosexuality (among other sins) is a perversion.  Apparently this was earth shattering news.  Who would have thought that there were Christians who believed such things?  Then the story really got legs was when the connection was made between between Crossroad’s position on homosexuality and the Ugandan government’s position.  Uganda is considering legislation that would impose the death penalty for homosexuality.  Now follow the bouncing ball;  Crossroads is digging wells in Uganda… the Ugandan government wants to kill homosexuals… Crossroads believes homosexuality is a sin… the Canadian government is giving Crossroads money to build the wells… therefore Canadian government is funding the killing of homosexuals in Uganda!

The leap in logic is disingenuous at best and blatantly dishonest at worst.  There would not be a single Evangelical church in Canada that would support the views of the Ugandan government on this issue.  The great irony in this story is that we are the ones doing the good works of love and compassion around the world, yet we are ones being flamed as haters and bigots.  It is confounding to say the least.  Evangelicals spend more money in that 3rd world than perhaps everybody else combined.   Who is taking care of the AIDS orphans in Africa?  It is not the gay rights activists.  They aren’t doing one single thing.  It is the  Evangelical church, the ones that supposedly hate gays.  Who is working to free the 2 million people around the world that have been sold into human slavery?  It is the Evangelical church.  Most people aren’t even aware that there are more enslaved humans today than at any time in history.  And the bulk of this travesty is in Africa.  Have we already forgotten that the Nobel Peace Prize winning champion of  the 1960′s human rights movement Martin Luther King Jr was an Evangelical minister?  Nobody is more committed to fundamental human rights today than Evangelical christians.

I am getting tired of the hypocrisy and stupidity from our critics.  This week NPD leader Thomas Mulcair waded into the fray.  In an outraged interview he said, “We don’t understand how the Conservatives can … subsidize a group in Uganda whose views are ‘identical’ to those of the Ugandan government.”  (Remember the bouncing ball we followed earlier)  He then added, ”…these types of evangelical groups with vision that goes completely against not only Canadian values, but Canadian law.”  I sincerely wonder what planet Mr Mulcair is from.  The Christian church has regarded homosexuality a sin for 2000 years.  He himself is a Roman Catholic.  Why has he not lashed out against his own faith?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:  “Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.”  The level of hypocrisy is nothing short of staggering.  

Secondly, Mr Mulcair is a lawyer.  He should know that holding the view that homosexuality is sin is NOT “against Canadian law”.  The Charter of Rights and Freedoms holds the freedom of conscience, freedom of religion, freedom of thought, freedom of belief and freedom of expression as the first of the fundamental Canadian human rights.

The third point, and just as disturbing, is calling Evangelical values un-Canadian.  Mr. Mulcair seems to have forgotten the roots of his own party.  Tommy Douglas, the very first leader of the NPD, was an Evangelical (Baptist) minister and the founder of our beloved medicare system.  It really doesn’t get more Canadian than that.  In 2004 the CBC named Tommy Douglas the Greatest Canadian of all time.  The statements that we have been hearing in the last week would never be said of Jews or Muslims or Catholics in today’s day and age, even though their position is essentially identical to that of Evangelical churches in Canada.  I would think a MP that would say the same things of, let’s say Muslims, would be forced to resign from politics.  If you have 15 minutes to spare you need to hear Ezra Levant’s commentary on this story.  It is brilliantly done.  By the way Ezra is Jewish.

HOLY HYPOCRITES: Click here to watch

I have said it many times before, it is now open season on Evangelical christians?  We are the only religious group that you can openly criticize without any fear of reprisal.  The political and cultural winds are blowing against us.  We are being increasingly criticized, marginalized and manipulated into abandoning our biblical world view.  Those of us that are not willing to yield are coming under increased scrutiny.  If there are now already politicians that think that we are breaking Canadian law, then it stands to reason that the day may come where we will end up in jail for espousing our beliefs.  If the winds do not change soon, this could be the end of religious freedom in Canada.  For the record, I would rather go to jail than compromise my commitment to the Word of God.  Even that would not shut me up.  I would just swap my TV ministry for a prison ministry.  I do not relish the thought, but that is exactly what the Apostle Paul faced during much of his ministry.  He was continually thrown in jail for preaching the gospel.

I think the only thing that will change that trajectory is a wholesale spiritual revival in Canada.  God could bring that to pass with the snap off His fingers.  In the meantime however, religious freedom is at the crossroads.

 

 

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25 Responses to RELIGIOUS FREEDOM AT THE CROSSROADS

  1. Bruno says:

    On the field but currently not working for an NGO, sometimes I hear people saying: “I’d rather give to someone directly so that I know where the money goes.” (Which can be a valid argument) and I follow up with: “so who have you given to directly?”

    The stunned reaction is normally well worth it.

    We’re really good at finding excuses not to do something :)

  2. Steve says:

    Isaiah 58 tells us the keys to revival.

  3. Jordan Baribeau says:

    Hi Pastor Mark, I would like to make a few notes.

    In essence, parts of this article are accurate. Politicians, beyond the NDP party, are full of hypocrisy. However, I’m sure the vast majority of people have committed hypocrisy at some point in their lives.

    First, the liberal democratic view of ‘rights’ is based on the ‘state-given’ rights. The only reason you can exercise your right to X is because the state says so. The state effectively protects X amount of right A from person B or group B. However, a number of factors change interpretations to right X over time. With this in mind, we have to note the extent to which the state and government are involved in the public sphere. The critical question at this juncture is “what is the public sphere?”, broadly speaking, in Canada and many enlightenment-based states, it is a secular realm where John Stuart Mill’s marketplace of ideas are highly influenced by corporatism (see Chomsky, Habermas, Taylor). In this sense, the governmental funds afforded to NGO A ought not, given the structure of the public sphere, counteract the secular. In fact, NGO A may have good intentions and conduct good works but their values may very well be at odds with the central tenets of the public sphere. As an ‘evangelical’, it may be easy to dismiss the concept of the public sphere however the entire liberal democratic discourse of ‘rights’ is fundamentally built off the very nature of the public sphere.

    Second, I would, based on the contemporary definition of rights, challenge you to note the human rights you’re discussing when you say “[n]obody is more committed to fundamental human rights today than Evangelical christians”. I see evangelical christians largely misplaced on a number of rights issues including right to life. I find it interesting that many evangelicals continue to pay income tax knowing full well that a portion of that tax goes to funding abortions. Far more fundametally however, I see evangelicals misconstruing the role of the state, the dangers of freedom to property and even the silencing of dissent within a given church. I find it rather interesting that evangelicals tout the strength of conservatism and communitarianism yet champion liberal democratic rights-based discussions unknowingly accepting the fact that embracing such directly challenges conservatism and communitarianism. In other words, there is a reason why individualism became cemented across much of the North Atlantic world before the full spread of capital accumulation.

    My final point is more than simply a summation. While I think it’s great to discuss these issues, I caution the approach you’ve used. History has shown that words and ideas are easily misconstrued. I long for arguments where axioms are noted and arguments are built off such axioms. The answers we are seeking lie in asking questions. For example, when you state “un-Canadian” which automatically assumes that being ‘Canadian’ is definable, but is it really? Are Nationalistic identities definable? I would argue no, thus the entire language of ‘Canadian’ is of no use to the discourse. In other words, the entire discourse of whether law, ritual or social construct A is tied to ‘being Canadian’ is of no use given that the definition of ‘being Canadian’ is undefinable.

    Anyways, greetings from Japan! This article got me thinking.

  4. George says:

    Pastor Mark: Thank you for your willingness to speak the truth of God’s Word, and not holding back. Thank you for speaking on topics that many may avoid.
    God’s Blessings.

  5. Derek says:

    The hybridization of government and NGO interest groups such as ‘evangelicals’ or others, poses a problem not likely to diminish. It’s fantastic that we have a mechanism to translate Christian values into real-world projects through mission and humanitarian pursuits. However, I firmly believe the legal associated with government ultimately does more harm than good to the church as a whole.

    As the moral center of our society trends steadfastly in the wrong direction, it is inevitable that the mandates of government and law will come increasingly into conflict with Christians values. Allowing special tax status gives government a foot in the door to direct or limit the activities of the charity to some degree, and that degree may greatly change over time. This already tempers and influences the activities of charities wanting to retain their status today.

    When I looked at my tax receipt again this year from the rock, I thought two things. One the one hand how great it is to have a subsidy for supporting something I believe in, and on the other hand I wonder when the day will come when the church has to decide between the perk of special status and preaching the truth. I don’t think that day is here just yet, but when it arrives will churches compromise themselves to be able to hand out tax receipts, or maintain fidelity of message and purpose?

    • Jeff says:

      Let’s take it one step further…here’s a question I have asked friends and fellow church-goer’s…

      Would you give the same if you didn’t get the tax benefit???

      I know of a couple churches in my small area that actually do an “end of year” campaign to solicit giving explicitly for the tax benefit.

      I believe it was Elvis Presley who said, “A gift is something you give and don’t expect anything in return.” Thank you…thank you very much!

      • lss says:

        Jeff. Perhaps you should stop asking your brothers questions like that. Probably provides little value in there walk with Christ. Try finding ways to build them up instead. If you feel compelled to do so use your receipt and donate your tax savings back to the Church.

        Tithing is an act of faith regardless of any receipt you may get. By the way in Manitoba it cost about a 1.06 to donate one dollar even with a receipt.

        • Jeff says:

          Iss…the question was asked in a small group discussion setting, not in a confrontational way. It was a conversation starter as to what motivates people to give, whether to church or any other registered charity. Thanks for judging me though!

        • lss says:

          …sorry for offending you Jeff. keep up the good work.

  6. Keith says:

    The leap in logic, is blatantly dishonest. There is no expectation of truth, from the homosexual community.

  7. Susan says:

    Thanks Pastor Mark for once again making us aware of what is going on in the political/media realm, but oh dear – I feel a sin coming on! Hopefully that won’t put me in danger of being put to death by the government! I too sense and feel the utter frustration and anger that alot of Christians are feeling regarding the open season and misconstrude thoughts and statements regarding our faith. Thankfully I haven’t acted on the anger, but my sin of anger is still sin!! Such a hideous blanket statement that the sin of homosexuality equals being put to death and that evangelicals and Christians agree due to our faith and scriptures. How am I supposed to reconcile a statement like that to knowing that for over 20 years I had a very wonderful gay man for a good friend. He’d been a friend since my teens. Over the years, as friends we came to the conclusion long ago that as a heterosexual woman with a family I could simply NOT understand his gay relationship and….he could NOT understand mine! He knew of my faith, showed great respect to me for it and I knew where he stood with his and respected his views inturn. Regardless of this huge difference of faith and lifestyle that was between us we were friends for many years until his recent death.

    So let me ask you Mr. Mulcair – if evangelicals support death to homosexuals because of sin- then was that what I was doing when he asked me to sit with him in the hospital holding his hand while he slept incase he was alone when death came? Was that what I was doing when we shed tears, kissed each other goodbye and prayed prayers together?

    I feel bile in my throat when I think of what this NDP pinhead is saying (oops, sorry – another sin!)I sadly recall part of a conversation my friend and I had before my he died. He said “Sus, I know you have it rough in your faith, some family and friends get it, others give you grief about it. I understand…it has been easier for me to come out and live as a gay man than to tell both my straight and gay friends that I began to believe in Jesus! They only accept that I believe in the Jesus thing now that I’m dying”. It was terribly ironic that through half his life his homosexuality was unacceptable by society and he was shunned by family and community, and yes, churches as well – but before his death opinions had soften and he had a time of “being free” from ridicule of being gay. However he found himself in the position once again of being unacceptable because of a faith he now believed and the resistance to it took him completely by surprise! I know there is this warped satisfaction for the media and politians to twist these huge issues for their own purposes. But I also know that at the end of the day, gay or straight, Christian or not – I loved my friend and I miss him and nothing on this earth would make me wish or support death to a gay man or woman. I know that I sin every day, somedays way better than others, my friend did too and we struggled with “sin” in our lives all the time!! Mine, no greater than his, his no greater than mine!
    As for this media idiocy – all I want to do is live my faith. I want to dig wells, build orphanages, supply food, clothing, $’s to those in need anywhere!!! My friend did to, right up to the week he could no longer do so.
    Mr. Mulcair – Micah instructs us to “seek justice, love mercy, walk humbly with your God!” We try… but please just don’t mistake Christian humility for licence to put your boot mark on our heads to make a name for yourself. We do have a very LARGE God standing with us!

  8. Audrey Joyce says:

    So very well said Susan. Thank you for your story ~ and God bless you ~

  9. lss says:

    God Bless those people over in Uganda helping others in need. With the grace of God I will be able to join them some day. It appears Ezra has fought this media battle for us.

  10. MDW says:

    It is hard Mark. I know it cause I feel\experience it everyday. Sadly the phrase “Common sense” sadly is not used in this time anymore. Remember God gives courage to one for one thing the other for something else. Continue to play your part. You have support always. Pride will not let boasters admit error. Pride is subtle/takes time to build which is why the devil is described as a snake not an elephant in the room. You can’t see till it’s too late. The world continues to resemble what the authors in the bible prophesied. Hang on it will continue to get rough before it gets better. Expect the worse, hope for the best.

  11. Evelyn Bennett says:

    ouch I got a headache just reading that blog. All i got to say is this: those of you who are focused on hating may I suggest ridding yourselves of the shackles of emotional bondage. If I have offended anyone I needed to write down a reality check.

  12. John says:

    An interesting post. Unfortunately there’s a lot of hypocrisy to go around when it comes to religion. It’s all a matter of interpretation. I give to charity and also give as a tax paying citizen. Since I don’t think that there is anything waiting beyond the final nap, I don’t expect any reward. Most religious folks I know expect something from God for being “good” either now or later. At worst these folks believe if they DON’T do good then God will send them to some sort of punishment. Either way it’s not altruism. It’s not just “evangelicals” doing all the overseas either. I have no problem with the government supporting wells dug by an NGO ( religious or otherwise) since I cannot afford to do it myself. That being said, I also expect my government to condemn execution based on sexual orientation.

  13. Heather says:

    I don’t know why everyone is so surprised at the backlash towards Christians….Jesus himself warned us that we would be prosecuted as he was prosecuted, that we would be hated by the world because we are not of the world.

  14. A modern Druid says:

    I see only one major flaw in this argument: The Christian Church has not been around for 2000 years. Christianity did not “fully fledge” until the Roman empire spread it across Europe in the years between 300 and 500AD. (Sorry, but that’s a historical fact.)

    Personally, I believe that Christ was not truly a man, but actually a literary metaphor to present people an ideal to live up to.

    No person should be killed for what they believe or feel.

    You have a choice to “live well” or “live good”. To “live good” you must understand that there is only one who is qualified to pass judgement – and that one is NOT you. Let people live their lives their way, even though it may offend you. On the final day, you will receive your judgement and they will receive theirs.

  15. Mark Hughes says:

    You may want to check your historical facts.

    The existence the historical person of Jesus is accepted by secular and religious scholars alike. Although they do do agree on his deity. The existence of Christianity for 2000 years is also an historical fact, although you are correct that it did not spread rapidly throughout the Roman empire until after Constantine in 300 AD.

  16. Theresa Giesbrecht says:

    I stand in agreement with the view that you have stated in your blog. If we don’t stand up for our religious views who will. That is why our society is do out of whack today. There have been too many ‘fence sitters’ and not enough people who will draw a line in the sand and say, ‘I will not be swayed to believe anything other than what the Bible teaches.’ I have shared this and pray that my friends will read it and stand up too. I pray many blessings on your ministry. Thank you for all you share and do. In His Service, from a sister of Christ.

  17. TP says:

    I’ve spent a lot of my life wondering what would happen if Christians started to live like Christ followers rather than Christ’s vanguard. What if that that idea of love, forgiveness and turning the other cheek were actually practiced in life?

    What would happen if when someone stated that they were offended at being wished Merry Christmas we simply apologized for offending them and asked if there was anything else we could do to make them feel more comfortable; what would happen if when a student who is wrestling with his sexuality wants someone to talk to we don’t take his feelings and desires as an affront to our belief system; what would happen if when we felt our rights (those amorphous constructs of the human intellect) were being infringed upon, we agreed to lose ground for the sake of someone else’s happiness? I suppose we could some of our freedoms. I suppose our religious system could lose some of its political power. But what an enormous amount of sacrificial love we would be showing to the world; you know that sort of love that a god might be showing when he lets himself be tortured and killed by the very people he created and came to save.

    I know that the idea of being a pushover is not a popular one, it never has been, after all, it’s what got Christ pushed up that hill and hung from a cross; but I can’t help but think it might be the only one that can change the world. After all, once all the shouters and fighters have yelled themselves hoarse or killed each other on the battlefields of ideology, it will only be the long-suffering peacemakers, the selfless comforters, the quiet lovers, and the grace-filled servants left; I suppose that will be the day that Christ promised, the day that the meek will inherit the Earth.

  18. Peter Sunday says:

    Sir I will like to have you as my mentor and spiritual coach I got your contact from Bob Olynyk, who told me about you and i visited your website and reasoned to keep in touch seeing your good work! I am a youth Pastor from Nigeria West Africa.

  19. Bruno says:

    shoot, shoot, shoot I just realized that your next blog post will be about the Easter Theater Play one, I better go grab some popcorn :)

  20. Doug Cottrell says:

    “God could bring that to pass with the snap off His fingers.”

    And yet he doesn’t.

    I don’t know what this implies but do have to at least consider that it may mean that the whole issue is a worldly issue fully and biblically intended to be resolved or addressed as a worldly issue. From start to end the bible was an evolution of position, especially highlighted by changes in the New Testament.

    To insist that it is God that insists that the church or the world never evolve is neither biblical, nor Christian, nor Godly.

    I do not know the answer other than that it demonstrably is not a position of “feet in cement” intransigence.

  21. John says:

    Missionaries have been hard at work in Africa for many years telling folks that the bible is the word of God. I do not believe the good people digging wells endorse execution based on sexual orientation. However can anyone be surprised at what the Ugandan government proposes? All the major religions in Africa (Islam, Christianity, Judaism) universally condemn homosexuality. More people in uphold their “inerrant” scripture as justification for this barbarism. I was ” live and let live” until the recent protests of Bill 18 started hitting the news. Christians show up in the thousands because some kids may want to show tolerance but a lot of these same folks turn a blind eye to poverty in our own province. Read some of the bible that your Sunday school teacher never told you about. Genocide and enslavement of “unbelievers” in Canaan, homosexuals and children that don’t follow their parents should be stoned to death, women are “unclean” because of their natural bodily functions and should not speak in church (and should have their heads shaved if they do). These are just a few examples. Jesus says himself that he came to uphold these laws, not change them.
    We like to imagine Jesus with kids on his lap, looking like one of the Bee Gees.
    The Crossroads people do their good work on a mandate from heaven, not with altruism in mind. The goal is to convert because the only way to truly love your neighbour is to make them like you. To “save” them.
    Homosexuality isn’t a choice and young men and women are ostracized by their loved ones (“love the sinner hate the sin!) based on some Bronze Age missive. It would be farcical if lives weren’t being wrecked as some children commit suicide over something they can’t control.
    I am glad to live in this liberal democracy that people have fought and died for. Want to see what happens when the fundamentalist ideal comes to fruition? Look no further than Uganda, or Saudi, or Iran or….

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