Thinking Out Loud

June 9, 2018

Canada Elects Its Own Donald Trump

Filed under: Canada, Christianity — Tags: — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:25 am

Ontarians aren’t heading for a three hour tour aboard the S.S. Minnow, but rather a four year mandate under a controversial leader.

On Thursday, Canada’s most populated province elected a Progressive Conservative majority government. Doug Ford — the brother of the late Rob Ford, Toronto’s controversial Mayor — with a host of comparisons to the U.S. federal election of Donald Trump.

For those unfamiliar, as Premier of Ontario, he’s in a parallel position to being the Governor of a U.S. state. With a population of 13.6 million, we’re talking about a state that would be larger than Pennsylvania but smaller than New York (ranked 5th and 4th respectively). The importance of the job is seen in better perspective when one considers the entire country is only 36.3 million.

During the campaign, Ford made promises, but there was no hardcore published platform. On the CBC national news on Friday night, federal officials called him “incapable of governing” and “a manifestly obvious unqualified candidate.” For ourselves, when voting on Thursday we followed the adage that character counts.

The results — Ontario’s first with electronic counting, with networks declaring the winner less than 20 minutes from the polls closing — were both surprising and particular at the same time. Voters tossed out a Liberal government with a track record never endearing themselves to Christians in the province, or for that matter Muslims and Jews either.

Residents of Ontario are holding on to their seats, because it’s going to be rough ride.

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September 26, 2017

Remembering Canadian Christian Television Pioneer David Mainse

Canada has lost an iconic Christian broadcaster whose influence extended from shore to shore of this country, lasted many decades, cut across denominational and demographic boundaries and continues to be felt with the daily ministry of 100 Huntley Street.

Global News:

Rev. David Mainse, founder of Crossroads Christian Communications and Canada’s longest running daily Christian talk show 100 Huntley Street, has died at the age of 81.

…Under Mainse’s leadership and direction, what began in 1962 as a weekly black-and-white, 15-minute broadcast that aired after the nightly news on a small Pembroke, Ont., TV station grew to become an expansive family of not-for-profit ministries.

Those ministries included international multimedia programming, an international relief and development organization, a broadcast school (that trained communicators from more than 80 countries around the world) and a national prayer centre that staffs more than 100 volunteers to field 30,000 calls each month, providing 24/7 telephone prayer support to Canadians.

…It was a result of Mainse’s vision (which was motivated by a desire to see Christian programming in primetime) and his team’s argument before Canada’s broadcast regulator in the early 1980s, that the CRTC determined there was merit to the idea of allowing religious groups to own and operate broadcast stations. This was an opportunity that had not existed in Canada for 50 years.

Lorna Dueck, recently appointed CEO of Crossroads wrote:

I’ve lost my mentor, dear friend, and champion – Rev. Dr. David Mainse who passed on to his Heavenly broadcast seat. Oh the people he will meet!

The family posted this announcement on Facebook:

…David’s passion for Jesus spilled out into every area of his life and fueled him as an enthusiastic evangelist, visionary leader, and beloved mentor to so many. Having been in TV ministry since 1962, David was greatly loved by countless people with whom he connected daily, sharing the love of Jesus and wearing his heart on his sleeve. He was a man of impeccable integrity whose public and personal life were in clear alignment, enabling him to powerfully impact the masses and the individual…especially his family. Through his words and actions, David lived out his oft-quoted words, “One soul is worth more than the whole world.” His life-long desire was to see precious lives transformed for all eternity through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ…a desire he satisfied with great success.

Although he will be greatly missed, David’s influence will live on through his family, the ministry he founded (Crossroads), and the many lives he touched and inspired in his beloved Canada and around the world during his 60+ years of ministry…

Visit the website; click either one of the images here.


Related:

Earlier this summer I shared my own reflections of working for David and Crossroads in this story.

 

 

 

July 1, 2017

It’s Canada’s 150th Birthday!

Today’s is Canada’s 150th birthday. I am grateful for the research done on this by my pastor, Rev. André Turcotte who presented this recently at a public service in our town park, and was willing to share his notes with me.

September 1, 1864
Sir Samuel Leonard Tilley, Premier of New Brunswick and one of the Fathers of Confederation, rose each morning to start his day with prayer and Scripture reading. As the 33 fathers gathered in Charlottetown to discuss and draft the terms of the British North American Act, there were many suggestions on what to call this new “United Canada.” That morning, as Tilley read from Psalm 72:8, he became so convinced that Canada should be a nation under God, that when he came down to the Conference session, he presented the inspired “Dominion of Canada.” The other Fathers readily agreed and accepted. Today, The following words hang in the corridor near the confederation Chamber in Province House: “In the hearts of the delegates who assembled in this room on September 1, 1864, was born the Dominion of Canada. Providence being their guide they builded better then they knew.”

Psalm 72 (NIV) Of Solomon.

1 Endow the king with your justice, O God,
the royal son with your righteousness.
2 May he judge your people in righteousness,
your afflicted ones with justice.

3 May the mountains bring prosperity to the people,
the hills the fruit of righteousness.
4 May he defend the afflicted among the people
and save the children of the needy;
may he crush the oppressor.
5 May he endure as long as the sun,
as long as the moon, through all generations.
6 May he be like rain falling on a mown field,
like showers watering the earth.
7 In his days may the righteous flourish
and prosperity abound till the moon is no more.

8 May he rule (have dominion) from sea to sea
and from the River
to the ends of the earth.

Canada’s official motto comes from Psalm 72:8, “He shall have dominion from sea to sea.” Until not many years ago, July 1st was called “Dominion Day” which was a recognition of the sovereignty of God. Today, it is called “Canada Day.”

Canada’s coat of arms, adopted in 1921, stands upon the Latin phrase A Mari Usque Ad Mare, which when translated means “from sea to sea” a reference to Psalm 72:8.

The spiritual heritage is reflected in the country’s educational system and laws.

The Education System

Bishop John Strachan, a leader who helped form our public education system, stated that “the church must continue to play a central role in education. You cannot divorce religion from education because schools will inevitably reflect the philosophical and religious or (irreligious) biases of those who direct them.”

Egerton Ryerson, father of public education in Canada, wanted a “common patriotic ground of comprehensiveness and avowed (or maintain) Christian principles.” He wrote the textbook First Lessons in Christian Morals which was published in 1871. Ryerson clearly said that the Ontario school system was to be a “Christian public school system.

Many of our greatest Canadian universities were founded as denominational seminaries to educate future church leaders.

The Ontario Public School Act of 1896 stated that “It shall be the duty of every teacher of a public school to teach diligently and faithfully all of the subjects in the public school course of study; to maintain proper order and discipline in his pupils in his school; to encourage his pupils in the pursuit of learning; to include, by precept and example, respect for religion and the principles of Christian morality and the highest regard for truth, justice, love of country, humanity, benevolence, sobriety, industry, frugality, purity, temperance and all other virtues.”

The Laws of The Land

In 1960, Prime Minister John Diefenbaker introduced the Canadian Bill of Rights. It begins with, “The Parliament of Canada, affirming that the Canadian Nation is founded upon principles that acknowledge the supremacy of God…” The Canadian Bill of Rights can be found here.

In 1981, Pierre Elliott Trudeau signed his name to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Charter begins with, “Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of the law.” The Charter of Rights and Freedoms can be found here.

Where does Canada stand today?

At the end of Pastor André’s notes was the full text of Psalm 78 which provides an interesting contrast to what you’ve just read. As we’ve written several times before, people tend to forget. Secularism, skepticism, materialism, cultural and religious pluralism; all of these over time have contributed to the present situation where Christianity is no longer at the heart of public or family life.

I do believe that alongside various factors, it is the Christian foundation, still embedded in many of our institutions, which makes this a great nation. 

The following is a prayer that can be sung to the tune of Canada’s national anthem.

Almighty God, by Thy mysterious power,
In wisdom guide, throughout this crucial hour;
Be ours a nation evermore
That no oppression blights,
Where justice rules from shore to shore,
From lakes to northern lights.

God, keep our land glorious and free…

August 5, 2014

Canada’s Evangelical News Story of the Year

Tyndale College and Seminary - Arial View

Morrow_Park_Tyndale_Bayview_CampusIt’s only August, but I’m prepared to call it; I’m just not able to better report it. The short version is that Canada’s Tyndale University College and Seminary announced in the spring of 2011 its intention to “buy the house next door;” that is, to purchase the former Sisters of St. Joseph Convent, a rather imposing structure, visible from Toronto’s Bayview Avenue that more than a few visitors thought was the Christian university for many years.  The acquisition has been a slow and steady process dating back to 2007 and a $58M (CDN) fundraising program.

In fact this has been so long in quietly approaching fruition — students will fully occupy the facility in the second semester of the 2014-15 year — that leads me to make the “not able to report it” clause in my introduction. Basically, I think this story is the hottest news on the rack as far as Evangelicalism in Canada is concerned, but the institution has not exactly been blowing its own horn about it.

Tyndale’s existing property has been sold to a housing developer. This is the fourth significant location for the school which began life in 1894 first in a church and at 110 College Street as Toronto Bible Training School, and then in downtown Toronto at 16 Spadina Avenue as Toronto Bible College (TBC). The move to its current location, 25 Ballyconnor at the very north perimeter of what is now Metro Toronto in 1976 occured eight years after a merger with the London College of Bible and Missions (LCBM) and a change of name to Ontario Bible College. The seminary was later added and a new name incorporates both the undergraduate and graduate programs.

This report is rather sparse because, at least in this writer’s opinion, the new Tyndale campus is probably a story not known to the broadest percentage of the Christian community in Canada’s largest city; the biggest religious news story in town that nobody knows about. Capital projects tend to play to the donor base, who are no doubt better informed, and so far, this has been a very large capital project.  A blog documents the month-to-month progress and contains hints of what the future campus looks like, including state-of-the-art IT equipment in the classrooms and a much improved library.

The chapel, pictured below, will be quite a change from the informality of the present one, though I expect the acoustics are rather amazing. Otherwise, Tyndale seems to be saving all the photo ops for when the facility officially starts receiving the bulk of its student body, expected to be the first week in January, 2015.

Tyndale College - Bayview Campus - Chapel

November 14, 2011

Sexual Orientation: Select One from the Six in the List

A few months back here in the Canadian province of Ontario, our Liberal (so aptly named in this case) government proposed to introduce a new sex-ed curriculum which would have kids as young as Grade Three learning about things that kids shouldn’t be concerned about at that age.  Childhood is a wonderful time, and to rob a kid of his or her innocence is so unfair, though I have to admit, in typing that, I stumbled over whether the phrase “his or her” was still politically correct, but somehow to speak of robbing a child of its innocence was a grammatical load I was not prepared to carry.

Part of the curriculum would include identification of six different orientations or expressions.   Are you sitting down?  Here we go:

  1. Gay
  2. Straight
  3. Transsexual
  4. Transgendered
  5. Intersexed
  6. Two-Spirited

I would offer some definitions here for #5 and #6, but hey, you’re already online, you know how the internet works, and if you really need to, you can get those definitions.

Of course, some ministry organizations thrive on this sort of thing.  Even though the province backed off on its proposed curriculum, there are some ministries that can only function if there is a specific target.  Absent that, they would would have to do something else like… oh… I don’t know… preach the love of Jesus?  

However, at the root of sensationalism, there are always grains of truth, and if this story about a six-year-old boy is true, the people of my home province have much to be concerned about.

TORONTO — While flipping through his six-year-old son’s new student planner Monday night, Jaak Purres was shocked to see some pretty heavy words jump out at him: sex worker, female genital mutilation, Palestinian solidarity.

Most of them were plotted on a calendar marking “Days of Significance” — International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers (Dec 17), the International Day of Zero-Tolerance on Female Genital Cutting/Mutilation (Feb. 6). But their mere presence in a book stuffed in his son’s backpack and carried to and from his Grade 2 class, set off alarm bells for Mr. Purres, who sends his child to school in Toronto’s Bathurst and Lawrence area.

“I ripped the pages out so I wouldn’t have to explain [the concepts] to him,” he said. “Considering sex talk hasn’t started at that age yet, it’s maybe not appropriate to go into mutilation when they don’t understand their own genitalia.”

You can read more of this and other stories by clicking here.

As a parent, I would outraged if my son in Grade Three (or even Grade Seven) came home with this sort of propaganda in his daily planner, or was being confronted with which one of six sexual orientations he belonged to. I’d rather he was at school learning history, geography, physics and math.

And as a responsible adult, I realize that just because a particular curriculum was called off one day does not mean it won’t be re-introduced the next. Sometimes the social engineers fully expect to lose the first round, but aim to desensitize the populace in time for the second round.

But I’m also wary of those who continue to announce that ‘the sky is falling’ when, for the time being, the sky has been safely secured in place.

July 1, 2011

HaPpY bIrThDaY — Canada turns 144

Filed under: Canada — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:21 am

In nine out of ten provinces, this is Canada Day.  In the province of Quebec, it’s moving day, as every residential lease terminates on the same day, and this in a province where there are more renters than owners. But as usual, I digress.

I know most of my readers are Americans, but Canada is, other than the cold weather, a great place to live. 

May 20, 2010

EFC Claims Victory in Christian Horizons Case

I recognize that today’s post won’t be as significant to my largely U.S. readership, but it has major repercussions here in Canada, so I hope you’ll permit me this domestic story.    For context, the EFC (Evangelical Fellowship of Canada) is our version of the NAE (National Association of Evangelicals) which sometimes also fulfills the role taken on in the U.S. by the ACLJ (American Center for Law and Justice) lobbying in Canada’s capital on behalf of Christian ideals.

Over two years ago on this blog, I reported on a complaint filed by Connie Heintz, a former employee of Christian Horizons, a Christian organization which operates group homes for developmentally challenged adults.   The big picture issue was the requirement by CH that employees live up to a lifestyle clause with certain moral or behavioral guidelines.   The complaint was filed with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal (OHRT), a group with a reputation for never losing; so this was a David vs. Goliath type of battle.

But it was also a battle with large scale implications for Christian (and by extension various other religious groups’) organizations of all stripes, not to mention churches.   The OHRT argued that on the basis of the variety of people being served and on the basis of the government funding received by Christian Horizons. (Read the editorial that is part of the above link, which comprises the second two-thirds of the blog post.)

Wednesday, we received this announcement in an e-mail from EFC, which you can also read online:

OTTAWA – In December 2009, The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) appeared before the Superior Court of Ontario, Divisional Court, in the landmark religious freedom case, Heintz v. Christian Horizons. The court, which heard an appeal of the decision of the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal (OHRT), released its decision late Friday afternoon.

Christian Horizons, a faith-based ministry, employs over 2,500 people to provide housing, care and support to over 1,400 developmentally disabled individuals, and has done so for more than 40 years. This Christian ministry, which requires its employees to sign a Statement of Faith and a Lifestyle and Morality Policy, was the subject of a human rights complaint when a staff member resigned after she felt she could no longer live according to the commitment she made when she signed the policy.

In the decision being appealed, the OHRT had ruled that Christian Horizon’s efforts were not the ministry of a religious community but rather social work and that it, as well as other faith-based bodies serving public needs on a non-discriminatory basis, could no longer require that employees share their religious beliefs and resulting service commitment. The Divisional Court ruled differently and reversed much of the OHRT’s decision.

“This is significant victory for faith-based charities across Canada. While they must clarify certain governing documents and review certain employment policies, they may largely continue to require employee compliance with both statements of faith and lifestyle and morality policies,” said Don Hutchinson, the EFC’s Vice-President and General Legal Counsel.

“We’re relieved to see the court found that the exemption provision in the Ontario Human Rights Code which permits certain charities, including religious charities, to selectively hire employees who share the same beliefs makes no private/public distinction. This means that Christian charities may continue to serve non co-religionists in society all while maintaining their internal religious ethos and integrity,” continued Hutchinson. “I’m relieved that the court recognized that the exemption exists to guarantee the right to free association in this way. This was of serious concern as the OHRT had found otherwise.”

“Of course, we are also disappointed that the Court found it reasonable for the OHRT to have concluded that Christian Horizons did not meet an objective test for a bona fide occupational requirement for Ms. Heintz’s job, but the Court was instructive as to how that situation may be corrected.”

“What does this mean for Christian charities across Canada? Well, it means that it’s time again for them to clarify their statements of faith, lifestyle policies and job descriptions for all employees in order to clearly demonstrate how compliance with both statement of faith and codes of conduct are necessary for and related to job duties.”

This case is huge here, and while Christian Horizons didn’t have the resources to fight this on their own, there was simply too much at stake here for Canadian Christian charities, hence the involvement of EFC.

UPDATE:  Here’s a different perspective on the recent decision from an editorial in Canada’s national newspaper, The National Post.

ALSO: “…But the gay rights group EGALE, which was an intervenor in the court case, also said this week’s ruling was a victory. Lawyer Cynthia Petersen said the ruling would make it hard for religious charities to prove that a person’s sexual orientation or beliefs would get in the way of their duties.”  That quotation is from an article in the Kitchener-Waterloo Record.

FURTHER UPDATE (5.21.10) Here’s a summary of the decision posted on a blog operated by CFPL, the Centre for Faith and Public Life, a division of EFC.

February 11, 2010

Autonomy of Christian Organizations In Canada Under Threat

With the Christian Horizons case already on the minds of Evangelicals in Canada, the right of Christian organizations to establish hiring practices which aim to hire Christian staff has shifted to another arena:  Christian colleges and universities.

The Horizons case came about after an employee felt she was wrongfully dismissed for contravening that organization’s lifestyle clause.    But investigations into Trinity Western University (TWU) and Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) have no specific complainant.   Rather, the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) feels that hiring committed believers to university teaching positions violates academic freedom.  (None of the TWU faculty are members of CAUT.)

Christian Week, Canada’s national Christian newspaper reports:

[CAUT] placed TWU on a list of institutions “found to have imposed a requirement of a commitment to a particular ideology or statement as a condition of employment.”

CAUT is also investigating the statement of faith policies of Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) in Winnipeg and Crandall University (formerly Atlantic Baptist University) in Moncton.

“In our view,” says CAUT executive director James Turk, “the role of a university is not to make disciples, whether of a religious viewpoint or an ideological viewpoint. They’re to create the context in which people can make their own decisions.”

Turk adds, “If a fundamentalist Christian were barred from working at a university because of their religious beliefs, we’d be every bit as outraged.”

[TWU President Jonathan] Raymond calls the move a “red herring.” He says the sole purpose of TWU’s statement of faith is to uphold the founding charter granted by the province in 1972 that allows the school to function as a Christian university. Hiring teachers who self-identify as Christians does not mean that their scholarly pursuits must all conform to biblical principles.

“We don’t insist on the engagement of Christian faith,” Raymond says, “but we anticipate a high probability that the choice of research topics, how one puts their syllabus together, the interpretation of theories, will be informed by a person’s faith just as a matter of course.”

[…read the entire story here…]

As with the Christian Horizons case, the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, this country’s equivalent to the U.S. National Association of Evangelicals, is certain to weigh in on the matter.

The difference however is that some of the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal case against Christian Horizons concerned the matter of who was being served; that is, that the clients of Christian Horizons represented a cross-section of the public at large.   That case can’t be made here, as both undergraduate and graduate students clearly make their academic choices most carefully and in full regard for the Christian institutions’  Christian heritage and practices.

However, in both cases, the larger issue is the right of organizations which don’t hide their Christian history and association to hire like minded staff, and to deliver a faith-based service using faith-based employees.   Committing to a lifestyle agreement or signing a statement of faith is one step toward having a staff that are all on the same page when it comes to motivation and spiritual ethics.

The EFC media release on the Christian Horizons is quite clear:

“This decision was shocking,” states Faye Sonier, Legal Counsel for the EFC. “It’s inconsistent with long-standing Supreme Court jurisprudence that clearly sets out that people of faith can choose to gather for ministry works and service – this has been confirmed as an extension of their right to freedom of religion.”

Without over-reacting, the bottom line is that it’s not academic freedom that’s currently under threat, but clearly it’s the freedom of Christians and in particular Evangelical Christians in Canada.

Where will the next battle be staging?

August 2, 2009

Father/Son Relationships

Dan Hill - bookThis weekend, I’m doing something a little different.   My world normally consists entirely of reading and evaluating books that will be sold in the Christian book market.   This weekend, I’m reading I Am My Father’s Son by Dan Hill, a singer-songwriter who was inescapable here in Canada in the late ’70s and early ’80s; and whose songs (Sometimes When We Touch; You Make Me Want To Be; etc.) have been recorded by artists around the world.

Is this book biography or autobiography?    Hill masterfully manages to do both at once.   He tells the story of the constant tension between himself and his father against the backdrop of the story of his own success in the music industry.   But he tells much of his father’s story as well.   Honestly, I’ve never read a book quite like this; a book which manages to successfully carry out several different objectives.

Dr. Daniel Hill III is a name known to Canadians for his groundbreaking work in the area of human rights.   As a black scholar with an earned PhD in Sociology, he forged new territory in Canada in the 1960s; both easy and hard to do in a place where racism was more subtle than in the U.S.

But it’s the younger Dan Hill — that would make him # IV — whose story I have tracked throughout reading the book, for one very personal reason:  We went to high school together and Dan was a good friend with my next door neighbor.    (Though, I have to note, that even this story has a Christian element to it, as Daniel Hill’s father — Dan’s grandfather — was a pastor who went on become Dean of the School of Religion at Howard University in Washington, D.C.)

The book takes us into the living room and kitchen of the Hills home in Don Mills, and invites us, like the proverbial guest at Thanksgiving, to be part of the debate atmosphere that characterizes the senior Hill’s interactions with his oldest son.  To many readers, these scenes are all too familiar.

As most men will attest, the main subject of this book, the relationship between fathers and sons, is a theme that forms the underpinnings of many a man’s life.   We men are all shaped by our fathers in more ways than any of us would want to admit.   Many of us men end up becoming like our fathers in ways we never imagined.

When it comes to defining that, Dan Hill nails it.

.

The book is available in Canada from HarperCollins and in the U.S. by special order with the publisher.


May 21, 2009

Canadian Prime Time News Special on Evangelicalism

Newman_KevinIn a country with half the percentage of Evangelical Christians as our dominant neighbour to the south, we don’t get as much attention in the media as our American friends;    all of which makes this Monday’s news special more significant.

On Monday, May 25th, the  Global Television Network in Canada will broadcast “Hip 2 B Holy” at 10 PM nationally, with host Global national news anchor Kevin Newman.    Here’s a preview interview from Lorna Dueck’s Listen Up broadcast posted to YouTube which runs just under 7 minutes.

HT: Lon’s blog, Solar Crash.

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