Saturday, February 20, 2010

I agree with Pat Martin. No Taxpayer-funded Proselytization

“The problem is not with people or churches that are politically active. It is with a party that has gone so far in adopting a sectarian agenda that it has become the political extension of a religious movement.” John C. Danforth, U.N. Ambassador

As our neoconservative government is ramping up their social conservative agenda, Canadians have got to start speaking out.

They are setting an extremely dangerous precedent by funding Christian fundamentalist organizations, especially ones seeking to indoctrinate children. That has always been a recipe for disaster.

This year, our science minister, who doesn't believe in science; was tangled up in an adoption mess, involving several over zealous fundamentalists. Though Goodyear's interest in the project was monetary, I read some of the accounts of workers talking about teaching African children Bible stories, which on the surface might sound OK, but were the children's families aware of this? Were they even aware they were there?

According to one report; 'Nine adoptions from Ghana were suspended after officials there found some children at an orphanage run by an Ontario charity had been taken from their parents.'

There's a very fine line here.

So when we learn this week that the federal government is funding a Youth for Christ centre in Winnipeg, the red flags go up. Our federal government, or any government, should not be funding private religious schools or centres, and yet they are.

Canada is not a theocracy, and in fact this country embraces a lot of different faiths. It would appear that this groups 'mission', pardon the pun; may be about more than just providing a centre for youth.

Social conservative Vic Toews and NDP MP Pat Martin, got into a bit of a battle of words over this and I agree with Mr. Martin, when he called the proposal "taxpayer-funded proselytization."

"I have no objection to faith-based organizations providing services. Sally Ann (the Salvation Army) and others have been doing a great job for years.

But these people are evangelical fundamentalists," Martin said of Youth For Christ. "Offering much-needed sports opportunities is just their way of luring in young prospects." He went on to quip: "Would the federal government be so willing to give them $3 million if they were called Youth for Allah?"

Gordon Sinclair Jr. also discusses this situation in the Winnipeg Free Press; More ominous issue underlies Youth for Christ flap

Youth for Christ, an evangelical organization with a missionary-centred mission statement, was proposing to create a $12-million youth-centred recreation project [primarily aboriginal kids] ...

A Youth for Christ news release summarized it this way: "A Centre For Youth Excellence envisions services that promote sport and recreation, character development, community health services for all youth (especially for low-income
and high-risk youth) and spiritual formation opportunities from a Christian
world view."

It's that carefully cloaked phrase "spiritual formation opportunities" that suggests Youth for Christ's underlying raison d'être. They are out to convert aboriginal youth to Christianity.

And as Sinclair reminds us:

Systematic conversion -- and resulting subjugation of First Nations culture and religion -- by Ottawa-backed Christian organizations has a painful history in this country.

One of the neoconservative principles is that the government should not be involved in social programs at all, but that should be left to the churches to administer. This is wrong, on so many levels. If the churches hold the purse strings, what will be expected of people who need help?

Will they have to sell their souls for their daily bread?

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