Oh. Canada!

Ed. This is what the hard left wants in America.

World Net Daily Ted Byfield February 10, 2007

Domination of church by state

Canada’s ideological left, confident of its control of academe, the Supreme Court and the federal Liberal Party, appeared this month ready to declare war on its most formidable enemy of all, namely conservative Christian churches that refuse to make their teachings conform to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms as defined by the Supreme Court.

Janice Gross Stein, Belzberg professor of conflict management and director of the Munk Centre for International Studies at the University of Toronto, a luminary and advanced thinker in the feminist and human rights movement, effectually disclosed the new campaign in an article published in the Literary Review of Canada, entitled “Living Better Multiculturally: Whose Values Should Prevail?”

Her answer was clear: The Supreme Court’s values should prevail. Then she played her trump card. Churches whose teachings fail to conform to the Charter should be denied charitable status in Canadian tax law and exemption from property taxes. To my knowledge it was the first time the tax threat was seriously levied. It will seek to force the churches to accept gay rights, abortion and (in the case of the Catholic and Orthodox churches) female priests.

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23 thoughts on “Oh. Canada!

  1. This is just another reason why the concept of “Seperation of Church and State” in America is such a good thing. Thank you for providing another great example.

  2. I’m a Canadian Orthodox Christian and I’m not too worried. I have no doubt that both the Supreme Court and the media are left leaning in this country, but for the Supreme Court to remove charitable status for institutions which do not “conform to the Charter”, would not only affect conservative Christian churches, but also Synagogues and Mosques. As parochial as the left might be when it comes to imposing their will upon the conservative Christians, I think they would think twice about imposing their will upon Muslims.

  3. If only the left understood and applied the concept of “separation of Church and state” – if only they were truly secular! They are not however…

  4. But instead of separation, they are pushing the “religion” of secularism on everyone. And George, I feel sorry for you if they do decide against God, but I am sure the Church will prevail. I mean, they can’t be as bad as the Romans, can they?

  5. Dear George, Dean and Christopher:
    Ms. Landolt seems to understand the ‘Stein’ effect very well. The division could have a splitting effect upon the country; Quebec could be free or the 51st state-just a thought.
    A cursory reading of history will allow that the Orthodox Church out lasted 500 years of Muslum domination under the Ottoman Empire and over 50 years under Communist secularism. Romania, Greece and the Balkin states are still Orthodox. The Communist and Ottoman empires are no more. Their supression was a do or concentration camps or death. I don’t think that their Supreme Court will go that far.
    Sincerely, J R Dittbrenner

  6. Actually from a pragmatic effect the strategy of the anti-faith crowd to marginalize and privatize faith could have an even more profound effect on the Church than the more oppresive forms of persecution. When faith is marginalized and privatized, it becomes irrelevant to many. When martyrdom is the constant cost of faith, it is vitally important and understood to be so even by those who oppose it.

    The Church will survive and Christ’s victory is intact but the “Oh well, it really doesn’t matter because it is not as bad as Rome or Communism” reflects a spiritua apathy that will tend to lead one further and further from living the truth. Such apathy seems to qualify as lukewarm and remember what happened to those deemed lukewarm by Christ in the Apocalypse of John.

    What is the next step, parents can’t teach the faith to their own children because it is child abuse? After all teaching them to be homophobic, anti-woman, intolerant bigots can’t be good for them. Everyone knows that child abusers should have their children taken from them and imprisoned, don’t they? Obviously, if one is a child abuser there are certain types of jobs that should not be open to them even after they get out of jail, that just wouldn’t be prudent.

    It does not always take specific laws either. Societal pressure, neglect and ridicule are often enough.

    COME ON PEOPLE WAKE UP! The intent of these folks is to destroy the Church, pure and simple. They hate us as they hate our Lord. That requires a more serious and intense response than, “It will all be OK”. Don’t be one of the proverbial frogs. Certainly the not atypical Muslim response of “Off with their heads” is not one that any Christian can easily endorse, but George seems quite willing to have them defend his faith that way rather than witnessing to his own in accord with the tenets of the Church. However, what happens if the government mounts a concerted, under the radar child abuse strategy. Will George and others say then, “My kids will be OK, the Church won’t be effected.” Haigiographical literature is full of saints who defended the faith with force of arms. Even when such force was not used, none of the ever took the attitude, Oh well, it will all be OK.

    That attitude would have acquiesed to the Arians, the Iconclasts, the Union of Florence, and all manner of other destructive actions by those in power. It is the attitude that led to Sergianism. It must not be allowed to go unchallenged in the strongest terms.

  7. RE note #1. Real separation of chuch and state would allow for and encourage all expressions of belief without restraint or any PC fear of “offense” while not allowing any physical attacks by anyone on anyone else. We don’t have freedom of religion in the US anymore. We are more and more regressing to freedom from religion. The Canadian proposal is a direct salvo in that war.

    I have requested that my bishop work toward a coordinated American Orthodox approach to protest such an unwarranted attack on a fundamental human right. He has taken steps in that direction. I ask all Christians reading this to take similar steps within their own traditions.

  8. Michael B states: “Real separation of chuch and state would allow for and encourage all expressions of belief without restraint”

    What do you mean by this? Should certain Mormon sects be allowed to practice polygamy because of their religious beliefs? Should the use of peyote by Native Americans for their religious ceremonies be legal or not (keep in mind that they were here first)? Should Muslim women be permitted to wear the hajab for photo identification cards, given their religious beliefs? I’m not sure, but I’m doubting we would permit animal sacrifice to be granted to practitioners of voodoo (or the maybe three or four Orthodox Jews who choose to adhere to Old Testament sacrificial laws).

    I think you’re saying the government should protect certain religious practices but not others.

    The Orthodox approach may be to tolerate a wide array of activities by not criminalizing them but to stop short at government endorsement. This sounds quite reasonable, but it’s not completely shared by all of the Christian community, especially among evangelicals who believe that the laws must reflect God’s laws to a greater extent (or at least what they believe God’s laws to be).

  9. I did not mean that we should just sit back and relax, but that we can still make a concerted effort in the public sphere. I fully support that we in America should try to support our brothers to the North.

  10. Dean, I honestly do not understand how you can be so hyperbolically outraged over attacks on government by fellow Orthodox and so laconically laid back when the Church herself is attacked by government.

  11. Dear Michael,
    It is true that when one opposes political forces or military conquest one can obtain martyrdom or heroic status. It is also true that a slow leaching or sidelineing of religions activity can destroy the church’s effectivness in it’s primary mission.
    What I tried to point out is that supression by laws, concentration camps and death was not able to kill the church. The Ottomon rule lasted 500 years-longer than the US has been a country or even from Jamestown’s founding in 1607. If muslim rule had lasted that long here, would you or anybody else be an Orthodox Christian.
    Sincerely, J R Dittbrenner

  12. @ Michael #10: I am somewhat confused. Could you please explain. I believe I explained myself in #9. If that is still the wrong position, I am sorry.

  13. Michael writes: “We don’t have freedom of religion in the US anymore. We are more and more regressing to freedom from religion. The Canadian proposal is a direct salvo in that war.”

    I didn’t really know there was a war going on. I live in Oregon, one of the most secular states in the country. But even here we have an extraordinary number of churches. Withing walking distance from my house are three large churches, and one small mega-church that occupies several city blocks. These, of course, are all tax-exempt. On cable TV here there are at least four full-time, 24 hour a day religious channels, in addition to many other occasional religious programs on other channels. Tuning through the FM radio stations recently, I was able to hear around 10 or 11 Christian stations, most of them playing some kind of “Jesus music” or “praise music,” or whatever they call it.

    This is all right here in the very “bastion” of secularism, a place with a church attendance rate of something like 26 percent, last I heard. These church people are all free to denounce whomever they want to denounce, gays, feminists, liberals, whoever, and they do this wherever they want to, including from their vast tax-free property holdings, all subsidized by the evil secularists.

    If this is war, what would be peace? What more do you want?

  14. Re Note #6:
    Michael, you are right. It is the intent for these people to destroy the Church, and in fact substitute it with their own ethereal church of atheism. I am under no illusion that “it will all be OK” with the church-state relations within Canada, and I am certainly not waiting for Muslims “to defend my faith”. All I said above was that taking away charitable status will have more than Christians up in arms and given the current political climate as it pertains to Muslim sensitivities, I think any action on the part of the left to remove this benefit from organizations that fail to “conform to the Charter”, will quickly dissipate.

    It is one thing to take up arms to defend the faith, it is quite another to take up arms to defend the tax implications of my donations. I enjoy the tax benefits I receive from my donations and I would not like to see them disappear, but how is taking away that benefit attacking the faith?

  15. Jim, I am being hyperbolic to be sure, sorry. Let me put it this way: Religion is fine as long as you don’t act on it or only act on it in ways that are in accord with political ideology (left or right). That being said, it has probably always been that way or St. John Chrysostom would not have been exiled, etc. It is the war that has always gone on between the world and a genuine life of faith. We are in the fight personally within our own hearts and we face it in little ways everyday. That will never change. Nevertheless, it is my perception that the pressure for people of faith to conform to the world rather than being allowed to act in the world from their faith is increasing. When overt and obvious attempts to institute government persecution arise people whoreally want to live a life of faith cannot afford to simply shrug it off.

  16. George, the primary tax hit is not the individual contributions, but the exemption from property tax. For congregations to be hit unexpectedly for a potentially large tax bill might force some from their buildings. Such an occurrence could be especially difficult for Orthodox. If the altar has been consecrated, no other use of the building is allowed (at least that is my understanding). That means that the congregation cannot sell the building. My parish has created and endowment plan to make sure that we will always be able to maintain our building even if the size and wealth of our congregation declines or we our tax status changes.

    I have been a quite advocate for years that we ought to voluntarily give up the property tax exemption as it gives too much control over us to the government. However, if we are to do that, preparations have to be made to afford the property tax.

    It is an attack on the Church because those proposing the rules change are doing so specifically to force the ordination of women and homosexuals, etc. For the government to tell anyone how and to whom the sacraments of the faith can and should be administered is an outrage. I don’t care if it is Orthodox, Catholic or Santorini. The Roman Catholic Church many years ago filed a friend of the court brief in opposition to a proposed legal ban in Florida on the ritual sacrifice of chickens by adherents of the Santorini faith. The RC bishops realized that any governmental attempt to regulate the peaceful practice of one’s faith infringes on all of us. It is an unjust exercise of governmental authority. I believe the proposed ban was not approved.

    Only the broadest restrictions on practices of faith should be allowed—practices that involve human death, dismemberment, abuse (physical or sexual), or overt coercion that leads to harm. These are criminal acts that are punishable regardless of one’s faith.

    If tax preference is removed because of certain teachings and to whom sacraments are administered, thought and belief are being punished, not actions that lead to actual harm.
    Since people in the UN have already called the teaching of religious prohibitions against homosexuality, etc to children is, in their opinion, child abuse, it is not a stretch that the government of Canada could also rule that such activities are in violation of the Charter. Would you consider that an attack on the Church?

  17. Michael writes: “Religion is fine as long as you don’t act on it or only act on it in ways that are in accord with political ideology (left or right).”

    Well, I think in the U.S. there will always be freedom of speech for religious folk and for everyone else. I suppose anything is possible, but I don’t worry about that.

    That said, I think one of the main issues for American religious institutions is the tax-exempt status. Tax-exempt status is not a constitutional right. Organizations have tax-exempt status because the organization’s purpose meets the definition of an “exempt purpose” in the federal tax code. So, for example, an organization advocating finding homes for stray kittens could have a tax-exempt status, whereas an organization advocating setting fire to stray kittens could not.

    In recent years the Supreme Court has held that there can be a kind of public interest test for religious organizations (as in the Bob Jones University case). In other words, religious organizations don’t have an absolute right to a tax exemption. Many would disagree with this, but I think it makes sense. I don’t think that religious beliefs should be priviliged over all other beliefs. In other words, there is a point at which the activities or speech of a religious group no longer serves a public interest. For example, if an organization advocating the burning of lost cats couldn’t have a tax exemption, why should a different organization have a tax exemption merely because they say “Jesus told us that stray cats should be burned”?

  18. J.R, re note #11: Since the Holy Spirit led me to the Church despite many obstacles internal and external, I can only assume that even under Muslim rule I would somehow have become Orthodox. As to whether or not I would remain faithful I cannot answer. Certainly the possiblity of my apostasy exists. However, I am much more likely to be seduced away from the faith than I am to be forced away from it.

  19. Re Note 16:
    Michael, that is an interesting analysis about the implications of removing the exemption of property tax, I never looked at it from that perspective.

    I see your point now and I do agree it is an attack on the faith. I also see Muslims and Jews as brothers in the struggle against secularism, we don’t have to fight the tide from the left on our own and no, I don’t expect them to do all the heavy lifting.

  20. Note 17. Jim writes:

    In other words, religious organizations don’t have an absolute right to a tax exemption. Many would disagree with this, but I think it makes sense. I don’t think that religious beliefs should be priviliged over all other beliefs. In other words, there is a point at which the activities or speech of a religious group no longer serves a public interest.

    Fortunately the founders had a healthier distrust of government. Government authority and public interest don’t always coincide, and the freedom to practice one’s faith free of government encumbrance including taxation is one of America’s great freedoms.

  21. Fr. Hans writes: “Government authority and public interest don’t always coincide, and the freedom to practice one’s faith free of government encumbrance including taxation is one of America’s great freedoms.”

    I have a feeling that general support for religion is starting to slip. When I was growing up, religion meant vacation Bible school, nice people gathering in a nice building to sing hymns, elderly aunts who taught Sunday school, the kind pastor, and so on. ln other words, the idea of religion was attended by all sorts of positive thoughts and feelings.

    Now, the situation is quite different, and I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that the larger society has more or less moved to a different place on a number of issues. Fifty years ago women in prominent and professional positions were quite rare. Today, it is common to have women in such positions. So when a church says that a woman can’t be a priest, to many people that just sounds strange. When someone such as Sheri Klouda is fired by a Baptist seminary from her job as a professor of Hebrew on the grounds that “women can’t teach men,” it seems weird and medieval.

    Fifty years ago someone could assert that the Bible was inerrant, and it sounded like a bold and noble statement of faith. That was back when modern biblical scholarship was virtually unknown outside of the academic world. Today, modern biblical scholarship is widely known, and when someone asserts that the Bible is inerrant, it just sounds like the guy is either uninformed or obtuse.

    Fifty years ago someone could say that the book of Genesis was literally true. Today such a claim sounds quaint and uneducated.

    Fifty years ago homosexuals existed, but were virtually invisible. To the extent that anyone even thought about homosexuals, it was that they were perverse and evil. Today, homosexuals are very visible, most people know a number of homosexuals, and find through personal experience that other than sexual orientation they are pretty much like everyone else. So when Christians expend a lot of energy denouncing homosexuals it comes across as petty and cruel. Most people no longer think of “generic” homosexuals, but rather of specific individuals. So when Christians denounce homosexuals, many people are likely to think, “oh, you mean that Jason, the guy at work who spent so much time teaching me how to use the new inventory system, is evil and perverse . . . .”

    Fifty years ago conservative Christians were just as likely to be Democrats or Republicans. There was no “culture war,” no indication that “liberals are mentally ill,” and so on. Today it sometimes seems that religious conservatives are little more than the extreme right wing of the Republican party, using their “faith” as a tool to gain and hold political power, and any setback is seen by them as “persecution.” And some of the Christians just seem bizarre — Pat Robertson in particular. And while Christians are claiming the moral high ground, a number of leaders — thousands of Catholic priests, Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggert, Ted Haggard to name a few — can’t keep their pants zipped.

    And so it goes, issue after issue. The bottom line is that the idea of religion no longer invokes the warm and fuzzies like it used to. In many cases it seems more like a negative than a positive force. Many of the beliefs sound strange, not noble. Having now lived through several genocides, Bible stories of divinely-commanded genocide make the Old Testament deity appear more like the Godfather than like God.

    It used to be that a faith position could command automatic respect, merely in virtue of originating in faith. Today faith positions are much more likely to be suspect; the automatic respect is no longer there. And people are starting to ask “So the reason we grant these people a tax exemption on their vast properties and large facilities is because . . . .?”

  22. #15 Dear Michael,
    John of Antioch, later John Chrysostom, Bishop of Constantinople, was undone the first time from the political in-fighting between John and the Empress Aelia Eudoxia. He was an ascetic and she was extravagant in actions and dress. However she was joined in this enterprise by Patriarch Theophilus of Alexandria because of religio-philophical grounds, i.e. Origin. There also was the fact of Antioch vs. Alexandria as the leading schools of thought in the Empire and the fact that Theophilus also wanted Alexandria to take the place of Constantinople as the religious center. In the illegal Synod of the Oak their plans came to fruition. John’s second exile was more political but again it was at the instigation of Aelia Eudoxia. The exiles were from both Political and the fight for Religious Supremacy.
    Taxes:Tax exempt status leaves others to make up the difference but keeps the government out of the liturgy. In Europe many states have a religious tax collected from the church goer and then paid to that particular church. Many opt-out of the tax and loose registration as part of the congregation, they leave the church. The US format is the better of the two.
    Sincerely, J R Dittbrenner

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