Canadian Bishop Wrongly Claims Grant Program Pushes “Ideological Test” on Church

As I’ve posted about already, a government-sponsored initiative called the Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ) program offers grants to groups creating summer jobs for students. Any organization, churches included, are eligible for the money as long as they fulfill all the necessary requirements.

The reason this has become controversial is because of a recent change to the rules that requires applicants not to run afoul of human rights (including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms). That means groups cannot mainly work to ban abortion or oppress LGBTQ people if they want access to the summer grant money. I saw “mainly” for a reason: Evangelical churches (for example) can still receive money for running a summer Bible camp despite holding anti-women and anti-LGBTQ beliefs. But groups that are centered around blocking abortion rights or pulling a Westboro are out of luck.

It’s not that hard to understand.

And yet the Roman Catholic Diocese of Peterborough refuses to acknowledge the truth. Most Reverend Bishop Daniel Miehm, D.D. released a statement yesterday pretending that Canada was excluding from the summer jobs program every single group that opposes abortion.

That’s a lie. At best, it’s ignorant, since groups that oppose abortion are welcome to apply for (and receive) the funding. They would only become ineligible if that’s the crux of what they do. Miehm doesn’t understand that distinction.

Many faith-based organizations are deeply concerned and cannot assent to this new requirement as it infringes on deeply-held belief about the sanctity of life from conception to natural death. It is also an assault on the freedoms of conscience and religion, two of the most basic freedoms that we enjoy in a democratic society…

The substantial good that is done by churches, synagogues and mosques will be hindered by this policy, all because they cannot submit to the government’s ideological test.

Again, all of that is a lie. The requirements for the CSJ program don’t require anybody to abandon their beliefs.

Other Catholic groups have made similar statements, with one bishop openly urging other congregations to boycott the program to make a statement.

“I believe that we need to take a stand against the position of the government of Canada and say that we will not be bullied into even the appearance of collusion on this issue. While others may take an alternative path, we can make a powerful statement by saying ‘no’ to the conditions as set down by the government,” [Bishop Ronald] Fabbro wrote Tuesday, in an open letter to 118 parishes in the Roman Catholic Diocese of London.

Naturally, Fabbro said he’d ask parishioners to give the Church more money to make up for the loss (that isn’t really a loss at all).

These groups are just upset that Canada takes human rights seriously to the point that they aren’t going to reward groups that use the taxpayer-funded grants to promote anti-abortion and anti-gay programs. The government shouldn’t be funding programs that harm its own citizens. The churches are always welcome to do that on their own time.

(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Robert for the link)

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