Friday, May 14, 2010

Paying the Christ tax

"Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's." Thanks to the efficient Harper government, Canadians are doing both at once.

Since 2008, there has been a spike in Christian funding by the feds--using our tax money. As reported in Straight Goods this past February (subscriber wall), Human Resources and Skills Development has been ladling out dollops of cash to right-wing evangelical groups:

In the period July 1 - September 30, 2009, for instance, 22 out of 173 grants made went to faith-based organizations, for a total of $889,016. In 2005, 2006 and 2007, by contrast, there were no grants to faith-based organizations meeting the search criteria (including in their names the word "Christ," "Christian," "Church," "Pentecostal," or "Baptist").

While many of the faith-based organizations that received funding do not fall into the religious conservative category, most do. The Word of Truth Christian Centre in Pickering, ON, for instance, received $192,033 for a project last year. (Shouters) National Evangelical Spiritual Baptist Faith International Centre of Canada in Toronto received $198,951. Eastside Church of God, Fresh Start Program in Swift Current, SK got $84,110.

For some reason, since the Harper Conservatives came to power, faith-based organizations with extremist views suddenly have become responsible for delivering local employment programs in many Canadian communities. [emphasis added]

Wycliffe Bible Translators slurped up a hefty $495,600 of your money and mine. But that was dwarfed by the $3.2 million awarded to an outfit called Youth For Christ--and, while children living in poverty on a reserve in Attawapiskat have been denied a new school for years, Edmonton's Newman Theological College was recently awarded $4.2 million of Harper's largesse.

We're all tithing in spite of ourselves. And you needn't take my word for it:

For Christian universities, “It’s a historic change, and nothing short of amazing,” says Justin Cooper, president of Redeemer University College in Ancaster, Ont., which received $2.9 million. The funds will help cover costs of increasing research and energy sustainability initiatives across campus.

Education funding is a provincial mandate, and Christian universities generally aren’t eligible, so they welcome the change. (Alberta and Manitoba are the exception: private colleges there have long been eligible to receive about half what a public institution might get for capital costs).

Christian universities that benefited from (the federal government’s Knowledge Infrastructure Program) include: Redeemer and Tyndale University College and Seminary in Ontario; Trinity Western University in British Columbia; The King’s, Concordia, Canadian, St. Mary’s and Ambrose University Colleges plus Newman Theological Seminary in Alberta; Providence College and Seminary and Canadian Mennonite University in Manitoba; and Atlantic Baptist University in New Brunswick.

Here's blogger Dennis Gruending, making connections:

A story that the mainstream media both covered and missed was the Prime Minister’s promotion of two individuals to senior positions in the PMO in March 2009. Darrel Reid became chief of staff and Paul Wilson replaced him as PMO policy director. Reid and Wilson have deep roots in both religious and political organizations. Reid was chief of staff to Reform Party leader Preston Manning while he was leader of the opposition. Later he became the president of Focus on the Family Canada, a conservative Christian lobby group that has worked against public childcare, same-sex marriage, and against adding sexual orientation to a list of minorities protected from hate crimes.

Wilson has worked for Trinity Western University, which is based in Langley, B.C. and is one of the largest evangelical educational institutions in Canada. Trinity established an Ottawa “campus” in 2001 in an old mansion near Parliament Hill. It houses the Laurentian Leadership Centre, which places students as interns with Ottawa-based organizations, predominantly with MPs. Wilson co-ordinated that internship program but when the Conservatives won election in 2006, he left Trinity Western to become a senior policy advisor to Vic Toews, then the justice minister. Wilson later served in a similar policy role for Diane Finley, the minister of human resources.

Of course, we've been watching this shoddy theocratic drama play out for months in microcosm at Rights and Democracy. And--not to belabour the point--we're paying for it.

Meanwhile, women die, while Harper's conservative base celebrates. Welcome to Gilead.

[H/t Canadian Cynic]


Frink Frank said...

Colour me completely unsurprised that you wouldn't recognize sarcasm or snark, ferg, if it bit you on the genitals.

Frank Frink said...

or facts, which, of course,have a known liberal bias.

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