Faith in the crosshairs

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In a matter of days the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to release a historic decision on same-sex marriage. While the top court has ruled on issues related to gay unions in the past, this time they will address the big question: is marriage a fundamental right afforded to every citizen under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution?
Oral arguments in the spring indicated a divide among the nine justices, yet the court is widely expected to affirm a homosexual’s constitutional right to same-sex marriage. That would mean an end to the current patchwork of laws that permit same-sex marriage in some states and deny it in others. The Supreme Court decision, regardless of how it goes, will be final with no right of appeal.
The two sides in the debate are no doubt already practicing their refrains: religious freedom advocates expressing worries of a slippery slope and a hierarchy of rights, versus progressives and atheists who view this as a step forward in civil rights and secularism.
Traditionalists and religious will no doubt continue to push back, but the other side has a point — America is quickly becoming a secularized nation. Americans who identify as Christian have declined by some 20 per cent since 1960. Gallup Politics found that the majority of Americans age 35 to 55 consider the following behaviours “morally acceptable”: gay/lesbian relationships (54%), non-marital sex (63%), divorce (66%), out-of-wedlock birth (67%), and embryo-destructive research (59%). So it’s unsurprising that many people now demand these secular sentiments be reflected in the law.
But is that all this is, a reflection of the modern ethos of secularism? Or is there something more vigorously hostile afoot?
One needn’t dig deep to discover that secularism is a cipher for the active dechristianization of America. From the Hobby Lobby case that challenged the right of Christian family owned businesses to refuse to pay insurance coverage for contraception, to a Christian bakery found guilty of a civil-rights violation for refusing to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple,  examples abound of a fierce campaign, by public servants and civil society alike, to deny Christians freedoms protected by the Constitution.
Perhaps the steadiest attack on faith and religious freedom is occurring in the military. In the past five years, attacks on the Christian faith have grown and include: commanders being barred from promoting chaplaincy programs; a navy directive banning Bibles from a hospital; an army reserve training program that listed Evangelical Christianity and Catholicism as examples of religious extremism; and an army email that listed some prominent Christian ministries as “domestic hate groups.” This comes after the controversial policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell” was repealed to allow people who identify as gay or lesbian to openly serve in the armed forces.
If a process of dechristianization is indeed underway, is it certain to succeed, as many modern crusaders claim? Much has been written on the role history can play in forecasting the future. One Winston Churchill quote comes to mind: “The farther back you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.” Friction between religion and civil society has a long history.
During the Enlightenment, post-Reformation Europe swelled with anti-Christian sentiment. While some thinkers used reason to embolden their faith, the majority sought to do away with God as a source of authority. This was particularly true in once-Catholic France. There, a belief system known as the cult of reason usurped Christian thought, causing historic cathedrals like Our Lady of Strasbourg to be turned into temples of reason and a prostitute in priest’s garments to be venerated as the goddess of reason at Notre Dame. To purge France of clerical trappings, the government of the French Revolution even replaced the seven-day calendar from Genesis with a 10-day week.
Today in France, much like other European nations, religion is again becoming a fault line. Immigration and birth rates have led to a sharp rise in Islam, with Mohammed becoming the most popular boy’s name in much of France and Britain as a whole. Legislators are wrestling with how to address seismic shifts in demographics and social attitudes, and wondering how religion fits into increasingly secular societies.
That same debate is occurring in Canada and the United States. But as Americans wait for the Supreme Court to rule on same-sex marriage, one wonders if history has already determined their course.

 

A crumbling foundation

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As advocates of same-sex marriage celebrated Ireland’s recent referendum, supporters of traditional marriage were left to lament yet another defeat. Meanwhile, I attended the sacramental union of my beautiful sister Alexandra to her dashing husband Michael.
The wedding was an intimate affair and it marked the third generation of our family married in Toronto’s iconic St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church. It got me thinking: with all the focus on same-sex battles are the faithful losing the marriage war?
Alexandra and Michael are new members of a steadily contracting club. Across the globe, marriage is in a state of crisis.

Canadian census data shows marriage in decades-long decline. In its place, a growing number of Canadians are living in common-law relationships, single-parent families or alone. Furthermore, families are getting smaller as birth rates decline.

The situation is worse in the United States. Compared to 72 per cent in 1960, only half of Americans are tying the knot today. The number of American couples living together outside of marriage has grown 15 times since 1960. Across Europe, marriage rates are down nearly 40 per cent since 1970. Australia, Japan, South Korea, Brazil, Mexico and other industrialized nations have seen similar rates of knot-tying decline.
But is a falling marriage rate such a bad thing? Simply put: Yes, it is. Marriage is the foundation for families, which are the building blocks of civilized society.
One needn’t be a person of faith to acknowledge that truth. The United Nation’s General Assembly acknowledges, “families, as the basic units of social life, are major agents of sustainable development at all levels of society, and their contribution is crucial for its success.”
The family has been the original social security net throughout history and could serve to help remedy so many of today’s crises in education, healthcare, finance and elderly care. It’s why all of Canada’s major political parties in an election year are eyeball to eyeball over who gives more support to  families.
Strong families are also smart economics. According  to The National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, if the number of married households in the United States today equaled the number in 1980, “the growth in median income of families with children would be 44 per cent higher.” On average, married couples have more income and wealth, with savings that last into retirement. According to a 2012 study by the National Bureau of Economic Research, the median 65 to 69 year-old married household had saved almost 10 times more money than the typical single-person household.
To the ladies who have swallowed the women’s lib kool-aid, here’s a tip: marriage isn’t just for the little people. A 2012 Brookings Institution study found the only category of women experiencing an increase in marriage rates are those in the top 10 per cent of earnings, which mirrored the experience of men.
On an individual level, and contrary to the punchlines of so many jokes, psychological evidence shows a correlation between marriage and reduced rates in depression, anxiety, trouble with the law, drug and alcohol use, not to mention longer life expectancy. Yet 40 per cent of those questioned in a Pew Research Centre study agreed marriage is obsolete.
What would a society without marriage look like? When the Bolsheviks came to power in Russia in 1917, they regarded the family as a bourgeois institution and set out to destroy it. One of the first decrees of the Soviet government abolished the term “illegitimate children.” Simultaneously, a law was passed which made divorce a procedure of only a few minutes that could be obtained at the request of either partner.
In the aftermath, men sought out multiple partners and began having children with them all. There was an epidemic of divorce and it became common for women to have three or four abortions by the time they were 20. There was also a sharp increase in children being raised by a single parent, or being abandoned en masse.
The Bolsheviks subsequently reversed their destructive family policies in the face of a reality they could no longer ignore: without strong families, a heathy society is impossible.
If current trends continue, the jurisdictions that legalize same-sex unions will increase while traditional marriages hit record lows. I don’t know how this experiment will end. For now, couples like Alexandra and Michael stand as pillars for an institution in decay.

 

Patrick Brown would do well sticking to the facts

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Pundits and politicians agree: Ontario’s newly minted Progressive Conservative leader Patrick Brown is in a quagmire.

His problem goes something like this: social conservatives got him elected as leader but pro-life, anti-sex-ed voters aren’t nearly enough to bring the new guy victory in a general election. Sooner or later, they say, Brown must abandon his base.

Brown appears to be a genuine so-con. As an MP, he voted in favour of repealing same-sex marriage and studying Canada’s 400-year-old definition of a human being. He voted against the “transsexual bathroom bill,” legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia and opposed awarding the Order of Canada to Henry Morgentaler. Either Brown is a so-con or he’s satisfied to take some serious hits for his constituents.

But the stakes are higher now. Brown is no longer a federal backbencher from Barrie; he’s a party leader vying for the top job in this nation’s most populous province. The temptation to adopt a populist platform will be tremendous.

Brown may very well give in, and who could blame him? His party was thumped in the provincial elections of 2007, 2011 and 2014 because of missteps by leaders that pushed the PCs to the so-called fringe. Why make moves that could render a similar result in 2018?

Forgive me when I say the soul-searching and strategizing required to answer such questions are his problem. Brown already said he won’t revisit the abortion debate and odds are his cameos at events protesting Ontario’s revised sex-education policy will become more and more infrequent.

Regardless of where Brown ends up, social crusaders mustn’t lose sight of the cause for the sake of the candidate. The PCs just elected their first unabashed social conservative in party leader history (unless one considers Bill Davis’ flip-flop on separate school funding to be something of the sort), which means these are heady times for small-c social conservatives in Ontario.

But if so-cons wish to optimize this unique juncture in the province’s history and secure legitimacy in the long-term, the grassroots might do well to pursue one task: appear more mainstream. That might sound like a tall order in self-styled centrist Ontario, but it is necessary. For starters, they should present the facts but do so with decorum.

On sexual education, simple tactics like gently quoting the new curriculum itself might mitigate some of the mudslinging. While supporters of the policy claim it’s rooted in science, several sections suggest the contrary. On page 197, for example, teachers are instructed to prompt Grade 7 students, “One of the best things you can do to stop HIV is to stop the stigma that is associated with having the infection.” Is that true? Stigmatizing any disease is dreadful but will it quell infection?

On page 216, Grade 8 students are asked, “How would thinking about your personal limits and making a personal plan influence decisions you may choose to make about sexual activity?” Now, hold on. Thirteen-year-olds aren’t supposed to have plans for sexual activity. For 12-year-olds, it’s actually illegal.

In fact, when it comes to social policy, there’s an argument to be made that Brown ought to expand his focus from sexual education to include questions about abortion too. Take the provincial power to defund abortions that are not medically necessary. According to an Angus Reid poll in 2013, 51 per cent of Ontarians — a greater number than support any provincial party — oppose the status quo of forcing taxpayers to finance all abortions, for any reason.

Politicians perpetually avoid the topic because they’re told Canadians don’t want change. The truth is, on abortion, Canadians are totally uninformed. Another Angus Reid poll showed only eight per cent of respondents know abortion is legal during all nine months of gestation.

Stating facts are a so-con’s answer to the “knuckle-dragging,” “religious right” bleats from media and other critics. Facts reveal that so much of what social conservatives defend is not fringe and faith-based alone — it is common sense.

Here’s hoping this favourable moment isn’t bungled, because only God knows when the movement will get another chance.

 

3 REASONS TO TAKE A CLOSER LOOK AT LEVIN

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Ben Levin is guilty.

The educrat pleaded guilty to three child porn related charges including making child porn, possession, and counselling sexual abuse of a minor.

Tuesday’s plea was a result of an international sting operation which led to Levin’s July 2013 arrest after Toronto officials were contacted by authorities in New Zealand and police in London, Ontario.

From late 2004 to early 2007 and again from 2008 to 2009, Levin served as deputy education minister in Ontario under Dalton McGuinty, while current Premier Kathleen Wynne was heading up that same department. Further still, Levin acted alongside top Ontario Liberal brass as part of Wynne’s transition team as she took office and was a tenured professor at OISE (the school that teaches Ontario’s teachers).

Public interest in Levin’s case follows from questions surrounding his fingerprints on Wynne’s controversial sex education policy, which begins for children as young as five and six and is set to roll out this September.

While Wynne has attempted to downplay Levin’s role in the sex ed strategy that teaches children under the legal age of consent about six genders and anal sex, here are three reasons why Ontarians should take a closer look at Levin.

 

1. LEVIN CLAIMED THE CURRICULUM:

The 2015 sex ed curriculum (by which I mean those portions of the Health and Physical Education document that pertain to sex education for children) is nearly identical to the toxic sex ed policy Dalton McGuinty pulled in 2010, which was directly connected to two policies (Equity and Inclusive Education, Safe Schools) for which Levin claimed responsibility.

Don’t believe me? Take the convicted child pornographer in his own words:

– The then-deputy minister said he was “responsible for … everything that they do” and to “implement” the “new” approach. (Levin, 2009 newsletter)

– Levin wrote and signed a memo that put himself in charge of Ontario’s school curriculum…“I am writing to provide an update on our sector’s agenda … I will be filling the ADM (assistant deputy minster)… The division… will be renamed as ‘Learning and Curriculum.’ It will have responsibility for curriculum and for Special Education including Provincial Schools.” (Levin, March 6, 2009)

– Levin wrote that the “Realizing the Promise of Diversity: Ontario’s Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy” sets out a “vision for an equitable and inclusive education system.” He wrote “the principles of equity and inclusive education should be embedded into all aspects of board and high school operations including program, employment, research, curriculum, resources, instructional and assessment practices.” (Levin, June 24, 2009)

– “I was the deputy minister of education. In that role, I was the chief civil servant. I was responsible for the operation of the Ministry of Education and everything that they do; I was brought in to implement the new education policy.” (Levin, OISE’s winter 2009 newsletter)

As the Toronto Sun’s Joe Warmington put it, “These memos end the confusion as to just what was his involvement in the curriculum.”

 

2. CONVICTED OF GROOMING

After we heard the agreed upon statement of facts, the courtroom’s air seemed poisoned, everyone’s imagination was sickly stretched and forcibly violated.

One of the exhibits of particular import in relation to curriculum formation, in my mind at least, is the instance of his counselling an undercover agent on how to groom her child for sexual abuse.

On June 12, 2013 an officer from New Zealand claimed to be a single mother attracted to her 8 year old daughter. According the the statement of facts, the officer posed as someone looking for guidance on how to groom her own child.

Levin leapt at the opportunity to play educator…

The 63 year old told her to expose the child to pornography, to being nude, and to masturbate in front of her child. When the officer said she did that, Levin said it was then necessary to, “Play with the child to prepare her for being fucked,” spank the child for her own sexual pleasure, and encouraged her to continue to sexually assault the child by penetrating her with fingers and other instruments.

Perhaps what I found most disturbing (though I can’t be sure) was when Levin instructed the officer that it was fine if her child cried, and to make the 8 year old understand more was coming to her… Levin emphasized the importance of making a child cry.

This is the same man who took responsibility for Ontario’s public sexual education for children.

 

3. PARENTING IS NOT PARTISAN

How dare Kathleen Wynne call opposition to this policy “homophobic”?

Where do folks get off dismissing parental concern as “partisan politics”?

It is good, if not entirely innate, parental sense to protect your children from a person that sees them as sexual objects.

Ontario parents don’t want their underage children sexualized. Many rightly claim that is what this policy does– myself included.

According to the grounds for his conviction, Levin is a man that normalized the sexualization of children.

This is not an issue of left or right, red or blue.

I just wish pundits and politicians would emerge from their zombie refrains and realize: A child pornographer has no place in the classroom.

5 REASONS TO REBUKE ONTARIO’S SEX (RE)EDUCATION

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The Kathleen Wynne government revealed on Monday ex-Premier Dalton McGuinty’s sinister sex-ed curriculum in drag. To be taught in Ontario public and Catholic schools between Grades 1 to 12 beginning in September, the sex strategy should be rejected and reviled by people of all political stripes for five glaring reasons.

1. FLAWED RATIONALE

The government’s present chorus, alongside those in their curriculum-corner, is this: The province’s approach to sex-ed is out of date– it’s for the children. Here, I’ll spare the gentle reader obvious questions about how the human species of the Ontarian variety managed to procreate and avoid epidemics of venereal diseases between now and 1998, the last time our policy was updated.

I get it.

The internet, smartphones: these are the prospective setbacks to our children’s sex lives.

No parent wishes to adapt to a situation of school violence, bullying, or improper use of social media. Prevention is key.

But if that’s all this is, a preventative action against contemporary crises like cyber-bulling and sexting, why not add a simple section or two to our present curriculum, preparing teachers to cover the specific subjects at hand? What about a ‘sexting 101’ send-off pamphlet for parents to discuss with their kids at home?

Instead, Ontario must accept an overhauled schooling in sex– beginning at ages five and six– such that your kids will be fluent in issues including anal intercourse and the disputed “gender theory” before they enter middle school.

2. INADEQUATE CONSULTATION

In an ironic twist of fate, the very curriculum that will teach your child the value of consent sought nothing of the sort– not from parents or trustees.

Setting aside the checkered history of this policy’s near twin and predecessor, which saw itself scrapped after public outcry from secular and religious communities alike, the so called “consultation process” for the present policy was a sham.

Ontario’s elected school board trustees had no say regarding the ‘new’ curriculum.

More importantly, having 1/3 of 1% of Ontario parents complete a leading questionnaire hardly counts as parental assent.

3. MORALITY IS NOT A STATE MANDATE

Some might think teaching children (under Canada’s legal age of consent) about anal and oral sex is necessary.

I do not.

Sexual education is not like math or French class, it can be informed by a host of factors including personal, familial, and religious inputs.

Ontario’s majority legislature might think it knows what’s in your child’s best interest– but it is not their right to trump your parental authority.

A state that holds first place to your second fiddle at parenting your child is a social experiment I want no part of– and I’m not alone.

4. QUESTIONS OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

While the present government says it will find a way to accommodate separate schools, you’ll forgive me if I’m a bit skeptical. Recall that McGuinty threatened to pull funding from Catholic schools who dissented from the province’s institution of Gay Straight Alliances in the past.

One might disagree with Ontario’s separate school system, and that’s fine.

Issue is: The right to teach Catholic doctrine in publicly funded schools is protected by Canada’s Constitution.

There is an argument to be made that Ontario’s Liberal government has already overstepped it’s Constitutional perimeter in the face of denominational rights, while enforcing the present policy would do well to play out in a court of law.

5. THE POLICY’S ARCHITECT WILL PLEAD GUILTY TO CHILD PORN CHARGES

If nothing else on this list sticks, perhaps these two words will: Ben Levin.

The former Deputy Education Minister acted as architect to this policy before he was caught up in an international sting operation aimed at catching kiddie pornographers. He now faces seven charges related to child pornography and child exploitation.

On March 3, Levin will plead guilty to some of those charges including making and distributing child pornography. Following his plea, the details of the case will be released without a publication ban. I suggest you pay close attention to the news that day.

Folks in Ontario’s media, as well as their echo-chamber audience, wholly dismiss any pursuit of this story, saying Levin—the alleged child pornographer— is inconsequential to a story involving hyper sexualized material taught to kids.

I, on the other hand, stand with parents who don’t want their children informed by any policy that had anything to do with a soon-to-be-convicted child pornographer.

***

So, what can you do?

Well, Minister of Education Liz Sandals reiterated the premier’s statement that the curriculum will not be altered once published.

Thus, these are the options we are left with:

– Pull your kids out of sex ed classes (an option afforded to parents in the present policy).

– Help the PCs elect a leader willing to undo this toxic policy (while Patrick Brown talks the talk, Monte McNaughton is the only one who intends to reverse the legislation).

WATCHDOG RAPS RCMP FOR HIGH RIVER GUN GRAB

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It’s finally here: the police watchdog’s report on the RCMP’s post-flood seizure of High River firearms.

In June of 2013, Mounties seized 539 firearms from homes abandoned due to rising waters. The RCMP said their actions were a byproduct of their search for trapped persons, while any seizure of property was intended to prevent firearms from falling into the wrong hands.

Claims of good intentions aside, today’s gun grab report found the RCMP “exceeded their authorities in some instances during the emergency response.” Moreover, “in a number of instances, RCMP members seized firearms that were properly secured or that were not in plain view.” In other words, Mounties were looking in places where a person couldn’t possibly hide (e.g. under a towel in a closet, inside drawers, etc). Overall, the report found in several cases “firearms were not removed with lawful authority.”

My two cents: Officers who broke into High River homes and unlawfully took property should be criminally investigated. They’re not above the law.

 

For more… 

High River Gun Grab Report (full text):
https://www.crcc-ccetp.gc.ca/…/chair-initiated-complaint-an…

HIGHLIGHTS:

FINDING 23: “In a number of cases, RCMP members’ forcible entries to facilitate home inspections caused significant damage and were not reasonable in circumstances where buildings were unaffected by the flood.”

FINDING 24: “The secondary entries for the specific purpose of seizing unsecured firearms were not authorized by the Emergency Management Act.”

FINDING 29: “In a number of cases the RCMP seized firearms which were lawfully secured.”

FINDING 30: “RCMP members were not authorized by the Criminal Code to seize secured firearms.”

FINDING 34: “Where a secondary entry into a building was not authorized under the Emergency Management Act or the common law, the seizure of unsecured firearms was also unauthorized.”

FINDING 37: searches exceeded their authorized scope by expanding from a search for people or pets to a search for firearms or contraband.

FINDING 38: RCMP supervisors failed to provide sufficient guidance to members in relation to scope of their authorities to search buildings.

FINDING 39: “RCMP members failed to report to a justice to show that they had reasonable grounds to undertake warrantless seizures pursuant to paragraph 489.1(1)(a) of the Criminal Code.”

Finding 49: Sergeant Powers, the Acting Detachment Commander of the High River Detachment, should have acted as the RCMP representative at the High River Emergency Operations Centre.

ASSISTED SUICIDE COMES TO CANADIAN SHORES

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Canada’s activist Supreme Court struck down existing assisted suicide legislation today, skirting parliamentary supremacy and judicial precedent.

The unanimous ruling holds that Canadian adults who are mentally competent and suffering intolerably and permanently have the right to a doctor’s help in dying, while said suffering can be physical OR psychological. Meanwhile, the feds and provinces alongside medical regulatory bodies have twelve months to draft new laws and policies around doctor assisted suicide.

To be sure, the Supreme Court’s already heard a ‘right to die’ case from the same region in 1993, with Victoria resident Sue Rodriguez. The ALS patient wanted to chose her expiration date but the SCC upheld our country’s laws banning assisted suicide, leaving Rodriguez to take her own life one year later with the help of an anonymous doctor. I’ll spare you the sermon on why our elected House of Commons, and not the appointed Court Party, should be in the business of legislating licenses to kill.

Suffice to say, as recently as 2010 the House debated doctor-assisted death and the bill was dead on arrival, defeated by a margin of 228 votes against to 59 votes in favour. Meanwhile, the Harper Conservatives have articulated they have no interest in revisiting the debate. Even still, not-so-socially-Conservative MP Stephen Fletcher introduced two private members bills to legalize assisted suicide in this country. Even now, it’s doubtful the bills will see a vote before the next election, but Mr. Fletcher’s Bill came on the heels of Quebec’s Bill 52, covertly coined “Medical Aid in Dying”—thrown out only because an election was called. The euphemistic label of the bill aimed to redirect what would otherwise be a federal offence under the provincial jurisdiction of healthcare—a tactic to downplay the Quebec government’s deliberate intention to legalize euthanasia. Euthanasia is not healthcare and, up until today, was against the law.

For good reason… Unlike the abortion debate, there’s no scientific question about the nature of the species before or after the act. Before euthanasia or doctor assisted suicide the person is alive. After, he or she is dead. Folks aren’t confused about that. The science involved in this case is political science: how policies involving the deliberate killing of someone by act or omission have been implemented—for better or for worse.

Look folks, I’m not one easily sold on ‘slippery slope’ arguments, but in the case of euthanasia and assisted suicide every instance of ‘strict guidelines’ to start devolves into an ever-expanding category of those who are deemed ‘killable’.

The decade-old Belgium model has already proven to be deadly dangerous.

BELGIUM MODEL

– 1/3 of euthanasia deaths performed without patient consent

– 1/5 of nurses admitted being involved in the assisted suicide of a patient.
–  1/2 of nurses administering euthanasia did so without the patients knowledge and consent.
– 47% of the assisted deaths go unreported in Flanders region of Belgium

According to studies in the Canadian Medical Association Journal one third of euthanasia deaths were illegally performed without patient consent in Belgium. One fifth of nurses there admitted to being illegally involved in the assisted suicide of a patient. And nearly half of these also said there was no consent. What’s more is that 47% of assisted deaths in the Flanders region have gone unreported. A woman in Belgium with anorexia nervosa recently ended her life by euthanasia and Belgian twins who were born deaf were euthanized out of fear of blindness, while Belgium is presently experimenting with euthanasia and organ donation.

Keep in mind, Quebec legislators admit to modelling their “Medical Aid in Dying” Bill after Belgian legislation.

SWITZERLAND

1942 -legalized assisted suicide for compassionate reasons
2007 – Expanded to those with mental illness including the depressed
Today – destination for suicide tourism

Switzerland, on the other hand, was way ahead of its time, legalizing assisted suicide for compassionate reasons back in 1942. By 2007, the nation expanded the legislation to cover those with mental illness including the depressed. Today, Switzerland is a destination for suicide tourism, attracting even healthy foreigners and couples on suicide pacts, while one of the plaintiffs in the present case flew to Switzerland to end her life before today’s ruling.

NETHERLANDS

1984 – stops prosecuting doctors who commit euthanasia 
1995 – Dutch Supreme Court approves assisted suicide for the depressed
2006 – euthanasia of children under 12 no longer prosecuted (Groningen protocol)
Today – 550 annual cases without request or consent

And the Netherlands stopped prosecuting doctors who commit euthanasia for the terminally ill in ’84. Less than 10 years later, the Dutch Supreme Court approved assisted suicide for the depressed. A decade after that, courts stopped prosecuting euthanasia for children under 12. Government studies today show 550 annual cases of termination without request or consent.

In all three case-studies I’ve presented to you, medical communities proclaimed “strict guidelines.” In time, every protocol and safe-guard proved to be worthless.

Now that assisted suicide advocates have been granted their wish, they will drag Canada, inch by inch, into the same nightmare world. Is this really the future we want for Canada?

If Canada institutionalizes a right to die it will also institutionalize a license to kill, which has been widely abused in every place it’s been permitted. And, should euthanasia be seen as a right of the individual, especially with terms like “medical aid in dying,” that will make it near impossible to protect the freedom of conscience and religion of doctors and other medical health practitioners who wish to deny the death penalty as a prescription for patients. And, while today’s ruling may not spell out an obligation for doctors to assist in suicide, that door remains open for a patient plaintiff down the road. And may I posit here that an “effective referral” option for doctors who refuse to provide treatment makes them complicit in the act and does not protect their rights.

Moreover, euthanasia and assisted suicide will create a duty to die for the weakest members of society. By creating a license to kill and commit suicide, our society will calculate value in human life based on pleasure and well being of an individual. You drool and need someone to change your diapers? You’re a bummer on play-dates because of some psychological or physical pain? You’re old and sick? Well, don’t burden your loved ones any longer. Just take this pill and the pain will go away. The gentle audience will forgive me, but I’m one of those crazy Canadians who sees people, even those in a persistent vegetative state, as human beings. I’m just one of those freaky folks who views people with mental or physical handicaps as having the same intrinsic value as any other human being. I do not see them as better off were they dead.

If folks want so-called death with dignity, without the ordeal and drain on a family unit, here’s an idea: more palliative care.

SOLUTION IS MORE PALLIATIVE CARE

– 16% – 30% of Canadians (10% – 20% in Quebec) have access to or receive hospice palliative and end-of-life care services

– 90% of Canadians who die can benefit from hospice palliative care.

Only 16 to 30 per cent of Canadians who die currently have access to or receive hospice palliative and end-of-life care services. At 10 to 20 per cent, the numbers for palliative support are even lower in Quebec. This, while 90% of Canadians who die can, in fact, benefit from hospice and palliative care.

Today’s ruling found our assisted suicide legislation violates constitutional rights (specifically section 7 – a right to life, liberty, and security of the person), I wonder if the same argument could be made with respect to lack of access to government funded palliative care.

I predict neither the debate nor legal challenges end here.

For now, we have no remedy but to wait and see for there are a host of options: Will the provinces or feds act first or, similar to post-Morgentaler legislators, not at all. The only option not on the table is the status quo.

 

Fake Feminism

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I’m fed up with fake feminism. The British Broadcasting Corporation now finds itself in a censorship scandal. In a program about the Commonwealth Games, the film’s presenter was grappling with a judo champion, and after he was sent crashing to the floor… And I must warn you, it’s graphic content here…. After being pummeled, he said:

 

“I am not sure I can live that down – being beaten by a 19-year-old girl.”

 

Oh, the horror. Thank goodness the sage and sanctimonious editors censored the too-vulgar-for daytime diction by the program’s second air-time. What? You’re not sure which word was edited out. Why “GIRL” of course. Because, well, the BBC didn’t want to injure the collective feelings of the female species.

 

“They had more time to edit it the second time,” a BBC spokeswoman said. “Mark didn’t mean to cause offence. But the word ‘girl’ was taken out just in case it did.”

 

Although it isn’t the first instance of BBC censorship, this case is particularly puzzling to me. Sure, I get news organizations aim to guard the emotions and reputations of TERRORISTS when they bar that term, replacing it instead with the word ‘militants,’ but… Girls? Really? Wake up Britain, blessed home of the Spice Girls. Girl Power, baby yeah.

 

Seriously though. Here, I should remind viewers that the BBC was, in all truth, the inspiration for George Orwell’s great novel 1984. And now, this business of cherry picking words from the English lexicon bears eerie resemblance to Orwell’s notion of Newspeak: a twisted take on the English language– the role of which was to demonstrate how repeated alteration of language by media can be used to politically deceive and manipulate, leading to a society in which folks mindlessly accept propaganda as reality.

 

And, sure, there might be argument to be made in the case of the ‘terrorist’ to ‘militant’ switch, but I can’t see what motivation there can possibly be remove ‘girl’ from BBC broadcasts. Except if, perhaps, this is just the sort of thing we should expect from a Western society, which has fallen into the wiles of fake feminism.

 

In this era that follows sexual revolution, fake feminists recite the litany of appropriate language, while their sacrament is abortion.

 

Slut shaming: bad, prostitution: good. Rape culture: evil, having a guy hold the door: nearly as bad.

 

Speaking of feeble feminism… Wonder if the BBC consulted the slactivists behind the ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ Campaign on their use of the r-rated g-word.

 

Campaigns such as those and the #YesAllWomen movement, following the Santa Barbara massacre falsely read feminist talking points into a situation, which ultimately undermines lessons we could have otherwise learned.

 

‘Bring Back Our Girls’ was, simply put, a sham—not support. In what world did the First Lady and her wannabe Canadian counterpart think the Boko Haram terrorists would respond to hashtag diplomacy? That, more than any use of the term ‘girls’, is the offensive bit: demeaning the agony of those kidnapped while elevating the egos of those holding signs.

 

And the Santa Babara shooting, much like twin case of Montreal’s L’Ecole Polytechnique missed a teaching moment all together. It was not about male chauvinism and violence against women. Rather, the opposite.

 

Inside the so-called ‘manosphere’ of Elliot Rodger, was a boy inundated with images of sex and power, but… he didn’t even know how to ask a girl out on a date. In his 141-page memoir, Rodger barely mentions his sister until the near end. He describes hearing her have sex with a man one night. But, troubled Rodger can’t understand why a guy without a car can get laid but he, with his shiny BMW, can’t even get a date. Youth today can tell you about every sexual position, the ins and outs of the opposite gender, but when pressed: wouldn’t know how to ask the object of their desire out to the mall for a soda.

 

When Marc Lepine asked men to leave that Montreal lecture hall so he could proceed with his rampage, they did. And, after Lepine had reached a satisfactory temperature in his bloodbath, he walked down the hall, past those same men he dismissed. They did nothing. Somehow, this tragedy translated to too much testosterone in Canada and it’s victimization of women. Ask me? We could have done with more testosterone that tragic day.

 

In this era of an Offend-luenza epidemic, we have become entirely misdirected. Women’s rights are conflated with abortion rights and the role of feminists is to police our diction. Don’t believe me? Mark my words. At the end of this week’s Maternal Health Summit, the chattering classes will have one observation: Canada isn’t funding abortions abroad, a mandate they don’t even have at home.

 

Look, BBC and MSM: Instead of concerning yourself with targets from your fake feminist foxhole, perhaps you could cover stories that are objectively offensive to women… Like the Sudanese woman who just delivered her child and now faces 100 lashes and hanging for daring to marry a Christian. Or the pregnant Pakistani woman who was stoned outside the courthouse last month, before her trial, because her marriage was not arranged. There are women and girls across the globe who face problems bigger than hurt feelings. So, please, leave our language alone.

Uniting Catholic and Orthodox Churches

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While Mainstream Media spent the weekend dwelling on the evils of the NRA and the virtues of the Kardashian-West wedding, this Sunday marked a historic meeting in Jerusalem between Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, spiritual head to Orthodox Christians. The Church leaders took part in extended talks, during which they signed a Declaration of co-operation between their two Churches. Now, before I tell you why crossing the canyon between these two bodies, which jointly consist of 1.5 billion people, is a very, very good idea: let’s recall how we got here. The primary reason for the religious retreat in the region was to mark the 50thanniversary of the meeting between Pope Paul the sixth and Ecumenical Patriarch Athen-a-goras of Constantinople in 19-64. That embrace ended 900 years of mutual excommunication and estrangement sparked by the Great Schism of 10-54. The split in Christendom came when Pope Leo the nineth excommunicated the Patriarch of Constantinople over disputes such as papal supremacy (read: Constantinople wanting to be in charge of its own affairs) and the Nicene Creed, a liturgical profession of faith. Basically, Rome added a clause to the Creed, because of heresy in France and the Greeks got ticked ‘cos amendments to a Council document should be settled through another Council. Ask me? They were right, but I digress. Prior to 10-54, the Eastern and Western halves of the Church had their share of conflicts, see Eastern iconoclasm and the Photian schism for more on that. The final sacred straw, however, came after the capture of Constantinople by the Fourth Crusade. The sacking of the Church of Holy Wisdom and establishment of the Latin Empire appeared to be an attempt to supplant Byzantium, the Orthodox Empire, and rancor around the period still rings today.  This, even after St. John Paull II extended a formal apology for the sacking of Constantinople to the present Patriarch of Orthodoxy.

But long before the apology, reunion was attempted twice: once in 12-74 at the Second Council of Lyon and again in 14-39 at the Council of Florence. On both occasions, the Orthodox people as a whole rejected the councils. Recent decades, however, have seen a renewal of ecumenical spirit and dialogue between the Churches.

And that’s a very good thing. Don’t get me wrong; I get the lack of will to amalgamate on the part of the Orthodox. They feel hurt and harmed post Papal excommunication, and plundering (everything from the relics found today in San Marco to the Shroud of Tourin), not no mention Byzantium’s subjugation for 70-some years (though, my read of history says the Venetians, not the Latin Rite are to blame—they simply wanted Byzantium tossed from trade). But, for a Church so deeply rooted in notions of history and tradition, perhaps it’s time they reclaim their true and oldest history—one under the Pope, as a “first among equals,” as it was before the Great Schism.

Full disclosure here: I was baptized in the Greek Orthodox Church but attend a Ukrainian Catholic Parish regularly. The move came after years of spiritual direction and scriptural tutelage. It was only after I examined the conflicts and common-ground that I grew to understand the term ‘Catholic’ was not synonymous with ‘contaminated.’  Simply put: Christ didn’t leave us with a Bible, no matter what some Protestants might tell you. He left us with a Church; namely, one formed on the rock of Peter, whose throne is inherited by our vicar in Rome.

See, unlike the Protestant churches, the Orthodox Church and Catholic Church have nearly all matters of theological and practical importance in common.

The Catholic Church recognizes the Orthodox have a valid priesthood, based on apostolic succession. And, the number and significance of their sacraments are also legitimate. Unlike the Protestant churches that profess and practice consubstantiation; when the Eucharist is consecrated by an Orthodox priest, transubstantiation takes place. That is to say, only in a Catholic or Orthodox Church, when a priest says, ‘Take, eat this is my body… This is my blood’, will the bread and wine change species to the Holy Body and Blood of Christ. So, what does that mean? Well, despite urban legend, there is no law disallowing a visiting Orthodox from receiving the Eucharist in a Catholic Church. Vatican II confirms Catholics, likewise, may receive the sacraments in the Orthodox Church but that’s not necessarily what happens in reality. Just this weekend I heard of two Catholics who attempted to receive communion in a European Orthodox Church but were turned away, called ‘Schismatics’.

Even still, the present dispute is not beyond dialogue or repair. The major disagreement, as far as I can tell, rests on two major issues and one minor ones.

 

Pope – Infallibility of

ORTHODOX: Papal Infallibility is rejected. The Holy Spirit acts to guide the church into truth through (for example) ecumenical councils. This Orthodoxy recognises the first seven ecumenical councils (325-787) as being infallible.

CATHOLIC: The Pope is infallible when, through the Holy Spirit, he defines a doctrine on faith and morals that is to be held by the whole church. This is a dogma and is therefore a required belief within Catholicism.

 

First, the infallibility of the pope—a doctrine that says the pope cannot be wrong on matters of theological importance, doctrines on faith and morals that are to be held by the whole church. To Orthodox Christians, papal infallibility is rejected. Here, the solution is simple: the Orthodox need to deal with the facts. The Pope has never been wrong or in need of correction on theological matters. Sure, there were three near misses, but mistakes were never made. Ever. Contrast that with the fact that Orthodox history which has seen the likes of Patriarchs subscribe to full blown heresies, such as an embrace of Arianism.

 

Holy Spirit

ORTHODOX: The third person of the Trinity, proceeding from the Father alone as in the original Nicene Creed. The Father sends the Spirit at the intercession of the Son. The Son is therefore an agent only in the procession of the Spirit.

PROTESTANT: The Holy Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son. The Nicene creed includes the filioque (Latin: ‘and the son’).

CATHOLIC: Agrees with the Protestant view.
Ambrose of Milan (340-397) wrote: ‘When the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, He is not separated from the Father, He is not separated from the Son’.

 

 

Second, the nature of the Holy Spirit, the catalyst to the original Great Schism. While Orthodox view the third person of the Trinity, proceeding from the Father alone as in the original Nicene Creed, Catholics view the Holy Spirit as proceeding from the Father and the Son but not separated from Them. While I am not a theologian, I consider myself qualified to comment on procedure. The Orthodox have a legitimate sense of grief in that the Creed, which was formed qua Council, was changed without one. Simple solution: call another Council as a form of peace talks with the Orthodox and proceed accordingly. God willing, language and theological terms agreeable to both sides will be reached.

 

Clergy – Qualification for

ORTHODOX: Priests and Bishops must be male, but deaconesses are permitted, though the order is dormant.
Priests and deacons may marry before ordination but not after. Bishops, on the other hand, must be celibate.

CATHOLIC: All clergy are required to be male. Priests and Bishops must also be celibate, with the exception of Eastern Rite Catholics and Anglican married clergy who subsequently convert to Catholicism. These groups are allowed to have married priests.

 

 

Now, with respect to minor differences, the main and glaring conflict is that of married clergy. While both Churches accurately accept only male priests and bishops, Orthodox clergy, but not bishops, are permitted to marry. Here, the Catholic Church might do well to revisit the issue of married priests. Until the 12th century, Catholic priests could marry, but this changed for two reasons, none of which were founded in scripture or tradition. First, following from problems with property. When a priest died, his wife and children were left in church property and were reluctant to leave. Secondly, there was a lack of good moral lives that were being led by married Roman Catholic priests. It took over three centuries to complete the transition from married clergy to celibate clergy. And even now, some Churches under the Vatican, such as the Eastern Rite have married priests, which have presented little to no problems as far as Rome is concerned. Ask me? The idea of marriage classes from a married priest is more appealing than the opposite. At the very least, the Orthodox Church can rest assured the likelihood bringing their married clergy under the helm of the Pope would be accepted, based on the precedent already set.

 

Today, the global war on Christians is at an all-time high. According to Vatican numbers, by some relation to their faith, over 100 thousand Christians are murdered every single year. Just last week, a Sudanese woman was sentenced to death simply for marrying a Christian. Even still, popular culture in the west appears only nominally aware of the endemic.

 

Common Declaration of Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

8. From this holy city of Jerusalem, we express our shared profound concern for the situation of Christians in the Middle East and for their right to remain full citizens of their homelands. In trust we turn to the almighty and merciful God in a prayer for peace in the Holy Land and in the Middle East in general. We especially pray for the Churches in Egypt, Syria, and Iraq, which have suffered most grievously due to recent events. We encourage all parties regardless of their religious convictions to continue to work for reconciliation and for the just recognition of peoples’ rights. We are persuaded that it is not arms, but dialogue, pardon and reconciliation that are the only possible means to achieve peace.

 

And yet, when the pope and patriarch this weekend expressed their shared concern for the situation of Christians in the Middle East, it made international headlines. Folks, there is a truth to the term strength in numbers. But, I am a realist. I remain doubtful that statist churches like that of the Russian Orthodox will amalgamate with Rome any time soon. That, keep in mind, is a church which embraces President Putin, despite his excommunication by the monks of Mt Athos, and once spied on it’s laity, relaying information gathered in the confessional to the Soviets, whilst they were in power. Should an Orthodox Church blanket itself with the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica, it might likely be the Greek Church that leads the way. The Greek Orthodox Church is not nearly as extreme and doesn’t report to a state department about religious affairs, but to Holy Synods— they are moved by a spirit of faith and would do well to inform their flock about present truths. In the meantime, I continue to pray for unity of the Churches. And, even if unity is a long way off, popes and patriarchs need to keep plugging away.

 

 

Euthanasia in Canada – the debate that won’t die

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Assisted suicide advocates from British Columbia have filed their written argument against an appeal court decision. The B-C Civil Liberties Association says it now has more than 15,000 pages of material it wishes to present before Canada’s highest court in October.

To be sure, the Supreme Court’s already heard a ‘right to die’ case from the same region in 1993, with Victoria resident Sue Rodriguez. The ALS patient wanted to chose her expiration date but the S-C-C upheld our country’s laws banning assisted suicide, leaving Rodriguez to take her own life one year later with the help of an anonymous doctor. I’ll spare you the sermon on why our elected House of Commons, and not the appointed Court Party, should be in the business of legislating licenses to kill.

Suffice to say, as recently as 2010 the House debated doctor-assisted death and the bill was dead on arrival, defeated by a margin of 228 votes against to fifty-nine votes in favour. Today, Justice Minister Peter MacKay says he has no interest in revisiting the debate. Even still, not-so-socially-Conservative M-P Stephen Fletcher recently introduced two private members bills to legalize assisted suicide in this country. It’s doubtful the bills will see a vote before the next election, but Mr. Fletcher’s Bill comes on the heels of Quebec’s turfed Bill 52, covertly coined “Medical Aid in Dying”—thrown out only because an election was called. The euphemistic label of the bill aimed to redirect what would otherwise be a federal offence under the provincial jurisdiction of healthcare—a tactic to downplay the Quebec government’s deliberate intention to legalize euthanasia.Euthanasia is not healthcare and it’s against the law.

For good reason… Unlike the abortion debate, there’s no scientific question about the nature of the species before or after the act. Before euthanasia or doctor assisted suicide the person is alive. After, he or she is dead. Folks aren’t confused about that. The science involved in this case is political science: how policies involving the deliberate killing of someone by act or omission have been implemented—for better or for worse.

Look folks, I’m not one easily sold on ‘slippery slope’ arguments, but in the case of euthanasia and assisted suicide every instance of ‘strict guidelines’-to-start devolves into an ever-expanding category of those who are deemed ‘killable’.

The decade-old Belgium model has already proven to be deadly dangerous.

BELGIUM MODEL

– 1/3 of euthanasia deaths performed without patient consent

– 1/5 of nurses admitted being involved in the assisted suicide of a patient.
–  1/2 of nurses administering euthanasia did so without the patients knowledge and consent.
– 47% of the assisted deaths go unreported in Flanders region of Belgium

According to studies in the Canadian Medical Association Journal one third of euthanasia deaths were illegally performed without patient consent in Belgium. One fifth of nurses there admitted to being illegally involved in the assisted suicide of a patient. And nearly half of these also said there was no consent. What’s more is that 47% of assisted deaths in the Flanders region have gone unreported. A woman in Belgium with anorexia nervosa recently ended her life by euthanasia and Belgian twins who were born deaf were euthanized out of fear of blindness, while Belgium is presently experimenting with euthanasia and organ donation.

Keep in mind, Quebec legislators admit to modelling their recent euthanasia attempt in Bill 52 after Belgian legislation.

SWITZERLAND

1942 -legalized assisted suicide for compassionate reasons
2007 – Expanded to those with mental illness including the depressed
Today – destination for suicide tourism

Switzerland, on the other hand, was way ahead of its time, legalizing assisted suicide for compassionate reasons back in 1942. By 2007, the nation expanded the legislation to cover those with mental illness including the depressed. Today, Switzerland is a destination for suicide tourism, attracting even healthy foreigners and couples on suicide pacts.

NETHERLANDS

1984 – stops prosecuting doctors who commit euthanasia 
1995 – Dutch Supreme Court approves assisted suicide for the depressed
2006 – euthanasia of children under 12 no longer prosecuted (Groningen protocol)
Today – 550 annual cases without request or consent

And the Netherlands stopped prosecuting doctors who commit euthanasia for the terminally ill in ’84. Less than 10 years later, the Dutch Supreme Court approved assisted suicide for the depressed. A decade after that, courts stopped prosecuting euthanasia for children under 12. Government studies today show 550 annual cases of termination without request or consent.

In all three case-studies I’ve presented to you, medical communities proclaimed “strict guidelines.” In time, every protocol and safe-guard proved to be worthless.

If euthanasia advocates get their wish, they will drag Canada, inch by inch, into the same nightmare world. Is this really the future we want for Canada?

If Canada institutionalizes a right to die it will also institutionalize a license to kill, which has been widely abused in every place it’s been permitted. And, should euthanasia be seen as a right of the individual, especially with terms like “medical aid in dying,” that will make it near impossible to protect the freedom of conscience of doctors and other medical health practitioners who wish to deny the death penalty as a prescription for patients.

Moreover, euthanasia and assisted suicide will create a duty to die for the weakest members of society. By creating a license to kill and commit suicide, our society will calculate value in human life based on pleasure and well being of an individual. You drool and need someone to change your diapers? You’re a bummer on play-dates because of some psychological or physical pain? You’re old and sick? Well, don’t burden your loved ones any longer. Just take this pill and the pain will go away. The gentle audience will forgive me, but I’m one of those crazy Canadians who sees people, even those in a persistent vegetative state, as human beings. I’m just one of those freaky folks who views people with mental or physical handicaps as having the same intrinsic value as any other human being. I do not see them as better off were they dead.

If folks want so-called death with dignity, without the ordeal and drain on a family unit, here’s an idea: more palliative care.

SOLUTION IS MORE PALLIATIVE CARE

– 16% – 30% of Canadians (10% – 20% in Quebec) have access to or receive hospice palliative and end-of-life care services

– 90% of Canadians who die can benefit from hospice palliative care.

Only 16 to 30 per cent of Canadians who die currently have access to or receive hospice palliative and end-of-life care services. At 10 to 20 per cent, the numbers for palliative support are even lower in Quebec. This, while 90% of Canadians who die can, in fact, benefit from hospice and palliative care.

With attempts to usher in euthanasia at the provincial and federal levels, and now in the courts—this debate is not going away and I, for one, welcome it. What I’m not interested in, though, is a one-sided debate. Because I know: the more facts and information Canadians have about euthanasia and assisted suicide, the more they will oppose it.