Thinking Out Loud

January 1, 2020

Faith in Canada: Top Stories of 2019

Top 15 Canadian Items from the 2019 Blog Year

🇨🇦 In my view, Canada’s top faith-based story of the year, in terms of what we followed personally and what consumed our attention, wasn’t in the strictest sense faith-based at all, though it involved a couple who pastor a church in British Columbia.

An overseas adoption, which should have taken days on the ground once months of paperwork had been established, ended up taking months, and the Canadian government seemed unable or unwilling to speed up the process.

More recently, that story was summarized in the first 22 minutes of this Canadian television program:

Other stories of interest in 2019 were:

🇨🇦 In January, the controversial “attestation” in the federal government’s summer job grant program was removed for 2019. (Having to agree to the statement prevented many churches and Christian organizations from receiving the grant in 2018.) The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada reported on the changes in this 6-page .pdf article.

🇨🇦 LGBTQ and Faith: “Eight months after declining to ban conversion therapy, the Liberal party is promising to do just that if re-elected in October…In its platform released [late September], the Liberal party said it will criminalize the practice.”

🇨🇦 Quebec’s Bill 21: The article called it “Quebec’s strict secularism bill,” noting, “A new law in Quebec prohibits the wearing of religious symbols or clothing by some government employees, including public school teachers, state lawyers, judges and police officers…Quebec’s majority government passed the bill, 75-35, using closure June 16 after long hours of deliberation. Some last-minute amendments concerning surveillance provisions made the law more stringent than anticipated…Bill 21 includes a notwithstanding clause overriding some parts of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.” More recently, four parts of the bill are being challenged in four separate lawsuits.

🇨🇦 In what many viewed as an upset, the Anglican Church of Canada did not ratify same sex marriage. The vote would have required a two-thirds majority from three constituencies consisting of lay-delegates, clergy and bishops. It was the bishops who failed to reach the two-thirds, coming close at 62.2%. So the rank-and-file parishioners are at odds with the leadership.

🇨🇦 The same denomination is facing extinction, “‘Projections from our data indicate that there will be no members, attenders or givers in the Anglican Church of Canada by approximately 2040,’ said the Rev. Neil Elliot…” The historic denomination is a counterpart to the Episcopal church in the U.S. “Membership in the Anglican Church fell from a high of 1.3 million in 1961 in membership to 357,123 in 2017.” (But wait, didn’t we hear this before, ten years ago?)

🇨🇦 And it goes beyond Anglicanism: Or maybe it’s common to other countries in Western Europe and North America. “A national charity that works to save old buildings estimates that 9,000 religious spaces in Canada will be lost in the next decade, roughly a third of all faith-owned buildings in the country. National Trust for Canada regeneration project leader Robert Pajot says every community in the country is going to see old church buildings shuttered, sold off or demolished.”

🇨🇦 For one couple, belief appeared to cost them an adoption entirely. The Christian Post reported: In the week of April 30-May 4 of last year, they met with a Child Services social worker. The social worker asked the couple, one of whom is a pastor, if they “still” believe “in some of the more outdated parts of the Bible” and if they considered homosexuality a sin. Last October, the couple received a letter from Child Services declining their application, stating that “the policies of our agency do not appear to fit with your values and beliefs.”

🇨🇦 Although the same percentage of people in the U.S. and Canada claim no religious affiliation — referred to as ‘the nones’ — it’s easier to be unaffiliated in Canada. “With religion playing a less important role in Canadian public life, Canadians don’t view their country as a “Christian nation.” That also makes it increasingly easier for Canadians to say they don’t belong to any religious group.” The difference is the subject of a forthcoming book.

🇨🇦 The landscape for Christian book distribution in Canada changed suddenly and dramatically on December 1st as two of the country’s largest distributors — Foundation and Anchor/Word Alive — merged distribution and operations.

🇨🇦 From August, was this guy running ahead of the law? “After 20 years leading Canada’s Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, Alex Schadenberg is unsurprised by news a B.C. doctor has been exonerated for sneaking into an Orthodox Jewish nursing home and terminating an elderly resident.

🇨🇦 In His Majesty’s Secret Service, A Canadian author’s story of Bible Smuggling in Romania took 23 years to be published, but surfaced early in 2019.

🇨🇦 In December, the federal court in Canada decided that the Church of Atheism doesn’t qualify as a church, nor qualify for tax exempt status.

🇨🇦 Though not Canadian-focused, a very powerful article released in August by Canada’s Tim Challies on the influence that Amazon now has on the Christian publishing market in The Power Over Christian Publishing We’ve Given To Amazon.

🇨🇦 Here on the blog we ran a series on four of Canada’s best charity secrets of which two which are able to issue U.S. tax receipts, and of the other two, the orphanage is in such dire need I would hope some in the U.S. would want to give irrespective of tax advantages.

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.

 

 

 

May 14, 2015

Christianity Fares Poorly in Recent Polls, Surveys

Religion in AmericaNumerically, Christianity is in decline in North America. If the U.S. wants to see its religious future it needs only to look to Canada, which although it has its unique characteristics (different mix of ethnicities, historically stronger Roman Catholic population) is very much a “20 minutes into the future” window on what the U.S. is facing. And in some respects the UK provides Canada with a similar preview of increases in secularism.

We wrote about the implications for the church a few months ago in a review of the new book, The Church in Exile.

Dr. Russell D. Moore heads the Ethics and Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention and is always very clear and forthright in framing the Evangelical position on issues for wider culture to comprehend. In an article titled “Is Christianity Dying” he writes:

  • Bible Belt near-Christianity is teetering. I say let it fall
  • Secularization in America means that we have fewer incognito atheists. Those who don’t believe can say so—and still find spouses, get jobs, volunteer with the PTA, and even run for office. This is good news because the kind of “Christianity” that is a means to an end… is what J. Gresham Machen rightly called “liberalism,” and it is an entirely different religion from the apostolic faith handed down by Jesus Christ.
  • The Pew report holds that mainline denominations—those who have made their peace with the Sexual Revolution—continue to report heavy losses, while evangelical churches remain remarkably steady—even against some heavy headwinds coming from the other direction.
  • Christianity isn’t normal anymore, and that’s good news. The Book of Acts, like the Gospels before it, shows us that the Christianity thrives when it is, as Kierkegaard put it, a sign of contradiction.
  • We do not have more atheists in America. We have more honest atheists in America.

To read the entire article — recommended — click this link.

Meanwhile, USA tapped another Baptist writer, Ed Stetzer for an article titled “Survey Fail: Christianity Isn’t Dying.” The articles subtitle confirms what Moore is saying, “Fakers who don’t go to church are just giving up the pretense.”

  •  Rather than predict the impending doom of the church in America, this latest study affirms what many researchers have said before. Christianity isn’t collapsing; it’s being clarified. Churches aren’t emptying; rather, those who were Christian in name only are now categorically identifying their lack of Christian conviction and engagement.
  • If evangelical Christianity is growing, or at the very least remaining steady, why is Christianity as a whole shrinking and why are those who claim no religious affiliation increasing at such a rapid rate? In short, nominals — people whose religious affiliation is in name only — are becoming nones — people who check “none of the above” box on a survey.

To read the entire article, click this link.

Of course, discussions like this tend to move from the sublime to the ridiculous. So we have, at Billboard of all places, this article: “Bill O’Reilly Blames Hip-Hop for Decline in U.S. Christianity.” Here’s a snippet:

  • Obviously, these statistics were gonna get an entrenched conservative like Bill O’Reilly upset. And when Bill sees a problem, Bill needs a scapegoat — and when you’re a conservative talking head, what better scapegoat is there than black people? … “There is no question that people of faith are being marginalized by a secular media and pernicious entertainment,” O’Reilly said. “The rap industry, for example, often glorifies depraved behavior. That sinks into the minds of some young people — the group that is most likely to reject religion.”

What’s deplorable about this is that O’Reilly is missing the point entirely as to what Christianity is and sees it as moralism instead belief in the deity and atoning work of Jesus Christ.

If you feel you must, you read the story at this link.

Yesterday, we also linked to a story at Huffington Post, “The Surprising Sacred Gathering Spaces That Are Moving Into Your Neighborhoods” which you’ll find at this link.

Finally, CBC television in Canada jumped into the discussion last night, but as their charter mandates, were forced to look at all religions.  I’m not sure if their content is available in the U.S. but you can try to view the 12-minute piece at this link. (There was also coverage this week at ABC World News.)

with additional research from Clark Bunch at The Master’s Table blog and Flagrant Regard

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 8, 2015

Wednesday Link List

Fallon Easter

Featured Stories

Ten Secrets of Senior (Lead) Pastors – “Most pastors walk with a degree of uncertainty about our abilities to do the work we feel called to do. We intellectually know this is designed by God. It keeps us in prayer and walking by faith. But, we are human and the demands upon us and our insecurities in them can also make us question at times whether we have what it takes to do the work before us… A senior pastor’s insecurities can cause them to become overprotective of their reputation and position… The pastor too can experience loneliness…  some pastors have no true friends either inside the church or outside… Most senior pastors have been burned by someone they once trusted.”

Interacting with Your Mormon Friends – “We Christians seem to have taken our worldview for granted. We are apathetic residents of a state while Mormons are passionate citizens of a nation. Many of the Christians I’ve taken to Utah are amazed by how strongly Mormons seem to resist our efforts to share the truth. That’s because we, as Christians, mistakenly think Mormons are as loosely affiliated with their religious worldview as we are with ours. That’s simply not the case… Mormons don’t easily walk away from their faith, even when they’ve discovered it’s untrue.”

On The Religious Freedom Reformation Act – “One of the drawbacks of having friends on both sides of an issue is that they bombard you with articles and stories supporting their side of the issue and this is most likely to happen in our culture on LGBT matters.  My pastor sent me, and the rest of our church, link after link explaining ‘our’ side of the issue and making it clear that ‘their’ side was not only wrong but mean.  My progressive neighbor did the same from the other point of view.  I was tempted to just forward their e-mails to the other… This is life in America today, particularly on LGBT issues.  One side yells at the other that they are ignorant of the law, and that they hate America, Christians and religious freedom.  The other side yells that the RFRA is nothing more than a hidden attempt to legalize Christian discrimination of LGBT individuals.  Everyone is talking; nobody is listening, at least not to those who differ.”

Billy Graham Statue at the U.S. Capitol – “A move is afoot to replace a statue of a racist former governor with one of evangelist Billy Graham in the U.S. Capitol building. The change would mean North Carolina is represented by two Western North Carolina notables in the National Statuary Hall. The other leader honored is former governor and Buncombe County native Zebulon Vance. General Assembly lawmakers have proposed replacing the statue of Charles Brantley Aycock… Aycock was chief spokesman for the White Supremacy Campaign when the bloody riot resulted in the overthrow of the elected local government in the only documented coup d’etat in U.S. history.”

20 Minutes into the Future – It is said that if Americans want to see their religious future, they need only look at their neighbor to the north, Canada: “You don’t need to be a churchgoer to pray. That’s one of the findings of a sweeping new poll on faith from the Angus Reid Institute, conducted in partnership with Dr. Reginald Bibby of the University of Lethbridge. The recent survey of 3,041 Canadians showed that even as our affiliation with organized religion continues to decline we still believe — just in our own, often deeply personal, ways.” Results are presented in The National Post as a large infographic.

It’s Not Just The Marriage Part of Gay Marriage – This article dealt primarily with the impact of a shifting paradigm on homosexuality and its impact on “the Black Church.” But going beyond wedding ceremonies, invitations, cakes and flowers are a whole host of other issues which the author summarizes in a list at the end of the piece; the impact on facility rental, membership, funeral protocols, dedication of adopted children, and also the legal ramifications of any decisions on issues like these.

New App is a YouVersion Meets Instagram – “Parallel feels a lot like Instagram, but instead of filters, it has you tag your photos with biblical verses. In doing so, it attempts to make a universal text feel personal, and shareable, in the same way one might post a photo on any other social media…Unlike Instagram, Parallel seems to do away with geotagging and clear timestamps, so all the images live in a timeless and spaceless world of the biblical verses they represent—and instead of liking them, users can ‘crown’ them. The idea is that, in time, the app will populate the Bible with these photographic interpretations.”

What are Our Children Learning Spiritually? – “Far before a child can comprehend his purpose to worship God, the child learns how to worship. What happens with most parents, though, who see only the need to teach their child’s head, is that in order to teach such truths, they are willing to use almost whatever means necessary to do so. So they use puppets to teach Bible stories, never realizing that their children are learning to view biblical truth as something light and trivial. Or they use cartoons to teach moral lessons, never realizing that their children are learning to view morality as something silly or ‘adventurous.'”

The Pope Has Changed Rome Forever – The Wall Street Journal “In his two years in office, the pontiff has drawn attention for his unconventional gestures—such as personally welcoming homeless people to the Sistine Chapel last month—but those gestures matter most as signs of the radical new direction in which he seeks to lead the Catholic Church: toward his vision of the promise of Vatican II. Both the acclaim and the alarm that Francis has generated as pope have been responses to his role in the long struggle over the [Second Vatican Council]’s legacy. …Pope Francis, the first pontiff to have received holy orders after Vatican II, is very much a son of the council.”

Inside John Wesley’s Prayer Closet – From Jared Brock’s new book, A Year of Living Prayerfully: “…Wesley kept up his daily regimen by going to bed at nine o’clock and waking at four o’clock, insisting that everyone in his household do the same. He would begin his day by studying the Scriptures and praying. The room that would later become known as the “Power House of Methodism” is about the size of a modern walk-in closet, perhaps six by seven feet, with hardwood floors and a large window to let in plenty of light. When we entered Wesley’s study, I noticed a very odd, spring-mounted bouncy chair. ‘This was Wesley’s workout chair,’ the guide said. ‘For doing assisted squats.'”

Rhymes Jan 13 2014Rhymes With Orange – 1/13/14

Short Takes

Digging a Little Deeper

From the creator of Thinking Out Loud, check out Christianity 201. Guaranteed distraction-free faith blogging with fresh posts every day. www.Christianity201.wordpress.com

October 1, 2014

Wednesday Link List

Gospel Van

Photo: Drew Dyck

A fresh crop of October links! Mind you, they’re all dated September. But they’re new to you.

Yes! The links are still also at Parse, the blog of Leadership Journal, a division of Christianity Today. Click here to read there!

For our closing graphic we return to TwentyOneHundred Productions’ Facebook page, the gift that keeps on giving. 2100 is the media division of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.  (We poached another one from them for tomorrow…I feel like I should make a donation to my local IVCF chapter…) Click the image to link, or follow them at this page.

Books of the Bible

May 16, 2013

Pentecost and Beer

Clash of Cultures - May HolidayThis is Steve Kennedy, editor of “T” magazine (formerly the Pentecostal Testimony) writing in the May/June issue:

Pentecost Sunday trails around the calendar tethered to the date of Easter. This year it lands on May 19, which happens to be the Sunday of Victoria Day weekend in Canada, commonly known as “May Two-Four” weekend — a reference to both the official date of Queen Victoria’s birthday and the popular choice of beverage consumed on this first holiday of the warmer weather. It makes for an interesting collision of cultures: the Day of Pentecost and May Two-Four weekend…

Using a Different Measurement Stick to track Religious Faith

Filed under: Church, Faith — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:38 am

I knew a guy who was day-trader. From the minute the North American markets opened to the minute they closed he was glued to his computer buying and selling stocks faster than you could blink. Many people use the internet these days to track up-to-the-minute trends as well as long term patterns. They wouldn’t be without it.

But others take a more grassroots approach. They say to talk to the drivers for FedEx or UPS if you want to know how the economy is doing. Those guys see a slowdown in the financial life of the country long before it has made the evening news. Others count large transport trucks.

And so it is with religious faith. We have metrics that we use such as giving and church attendance and extrapolate all manner of projections from that type of data. Here in Canada, the Hemorrhaging Faith study tracked church attendance generationally in four categories (a) Evangelical, (b) other Protestant, (c) Catholic outside Quebec, and (d) Quebec Catholics.  The numbers were not great, not even for Evangelicals, which I’m told should now be spelled with a capital ‘E.’

But the grassroots approach would suggest we should be tracking baby names; and if your interest is specifically Roman Catholic, the female name Mary. Along comes mary? Not lately. It turns out that while the Hispanic community is still strongly using Maria, elsewhere, the name Mary is in free fall…

Continue reading here.

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