"Hate crimes" laws were defeated in Congress just a few months ago. Just a few weeks ago, Frank Wright of the National Religious Broadcasters Association warned, "We must be one in Christ to face the days ahead" because "hate crimes" laws would create untold new liability for Christians. Now a major Christian ministry has confirmed that such "hate crimes" laws already are setting limits on what it can broadcast. The issue is "hate crimes" laws in Canada, and they are affecting U.S. Christian ministries that broadcast into that nation.
WND reported just a week ago on a Christian ministry based in Canada that essentially was ordered shut down under that nation's "hate crimes" laws which prevent Christians from expressing Biblical opinions on a wide range of issues. So what used to be called MacGregor Ministries with offerings in how to recognize and eliminate "faulty fads" in Christian churches has been re-created in the United States, and now operates under the name MM Outreach Media Ministries, according to spokeswoman Lorri MacGregor. "Canada has very strong hate laws," she told WND.
She said the ministry points out the differences between Christianity and various cult beliefs, but also with respect, and never as a proponent. She said the work always is in response to a question or issue. "When a group such as Jehovah's Witnesses said of our doctrine we're worshipping a freakish three-headed God (the Trinity), we should be able to respond," she said. "We say, 'Here's the doctrine of the Trinity and here is where it is in the Scripture.'" [Where? The word "trinity" does not appear in the Bible]
That, however, violates Canada's hate crimes laws, and the ministry was ordered to either make wholesale changes in its presentations, or shut down. "There was nothing we could do that would please them," she said. "They wanted us every time we criticized something to say, 'So Christianity is equal to Buddhism, Islam, Mormonism, Jehovah's Witnesses. Just decide for yourself.'" "We cannot do that," she said of the work she and her husband, Keith, have spent their lives assembling.
Now comes confirmation from the Colorado Springs-based Focus on the Family, one of the largest Christian publishing and broadcasting organizations in the nation, that it has been reviewing, and if necessary editing, its broadcasts to avoid complications with Canadian "hate crimes" laws. In a statement attributed to Gary Booker, director of global content creation for Focus, the organization confirmed that broadcast standards have a "dynamic nature."
"Our staff at Focus on the Family Canada works proactively to stay abreast of the dynamic nature of broadcast standards, Canadian Revenue Agency legislation and both national and provincial human rights laws," the statement said. "Parameters regarding what can be said (and how it should be said) are communicated by Focus on the Family Canada to our content producers here at Focus on the Family in the U.S. To the best of our ability, programming is then produced with Canadian law in mind," Focus continued.
"In particular, our content producers are careful not to make generalized statements nor comments that may be perceived as ascribing malicious intent to a 'group' of people and are always careful to treat even those who might disagree with us with respect. Our Focus on the Family content creators here in the U.S. are also careful to consult with Focus on the Family Canada whenever questions arise. Focus on the Family Canada, in turn, monitors the content produced in the U.S. and assesses this content against Canadian law," the group said. "Occasionally, albeit very rarely, some content is identified that, while acceptable for airing in the U.S. would not be acceptable under Canadian law and is therefore edited or omitted in Canada," Focus said.
Focus broadcasts programs on thousands of radio stations across the continent, publishes dozens of magazines and newsletters and provides a wide range of other resources to Christian families and churches. Wright had told the NRB that the U.S. version of "hate crimes" that was blocked from the 2008 Defense Authorization Bill last year originally would have made religious broadcasters liable for various criminal acts. The subject of homosexuality, specifically, was provided protections in the U.S. proposal, and is one of the issues that Canadian law addresses.
WND previously reported when the the Canadian Family Action Coalition confirmed activists who claim they have "hurt feelings" are demanding and getting penalties imposed against those who oppose the homosexual lifestyle. "We today have a major national magazine, a federal political party leader and a registered political party, a major Catholic newspaper (Catholic Insight) and an internationally renowned journalist all of whom are being investigated by appointed 'hate speech therapists' from the commissions," the group said.
The journalist is Mark Steyn, according to CFAC spokesman Brian Rushfeldt, and the newest case involves Canada's national Catholic magazine of news, opinion and analysis. The publication has been told it is being targeted by a complaint from Edmonton resident Rob Wells, who alleges the publication has offended homosexuals. But Rushfeldt confirmed the result of any such dispute is up in the air, because ordinary courts don't handle such complaints, they are taken on by various Human Rights Commissions in Canada. They are set up to take action if anything "indicates discrimination" or "is likely to expose to hatred or contempt."
Rushfeldt noted that Alberta's provincial law, for example, orders: "No person shall publish, issue or display or cause to be published, issued or displayed before the public any statement, publication, notice, sign, symbol, emblem or other representation that (a) indicates discrimination or an intention to discriminate against a person or a class of persons, or (b) is likely to expose a person or a class of persons to hatred or contempt bcause of the race, religious beliefs, colour, gender, physical disability, mental disability, age, ancestry, place of origin, marital status, source of income or family status of that person or class of persons."
"You see if my feelings are hurt and I feel discriminated against due to my 'religious orientation' then surely I must have a right and entitlement to have an appointed group of people in the Human Rights Commission at taxpayers' expense, intervene and force the activist to pay me compensation for my feelings. This is really not bullying is it? Or is it more like extortion?" said a commentary by the Family Action organization. "How can I prove my feeling are hurt? I don't need to prove it. I just say it is so and it is so. Do I need to provide truth? No, not under the functions of the Human Rights Act. . Section 3(1) states that if something 'indicates discrimination' and 'is likely to expose to hatred or contempt' is a basis for action."
Similar restrictions have been found valid for broadcasting, officials said. And websites and books also will have to be edited, since those were the primary issue affecting MMOutreach when it used to operate in Canada. "They said if we were just preaching our own Gospel, and weren't criticizing anybody else, we could continue," Mrs. MacGregor told WND in the earlier case. "If you're going to defend the Gospel, you've got to criticize sometimes." For example, the ministry addresses the issue of "fads," including a "creeping Eastern mysticism" appearing in some churches, "turning meaningful prayer meetings into mind-emptying rituals called contemplative prayer promising experiences of a spiritual nature." "Feelings have often replaced the solid word of God," their website warns.
Mrs. MacGregor told WND the government ultimatum was that she would have to preach that "all religions are equal," but she could not work within such restrictions. "We wrote on Feb. 7 and voluntarily revoked our [license] ourselves," she said. "We said this auditor requires us to compromise our Christian faith, which we cannot do." "You're not allowed in Canada to speak in a persuasive way about your own faith," she said.
The U.S. proposal was launched in the House of Representatives as H.R. 1592 and would have punished crimes based on the "actual or perceived religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability." The immediate concern - and still unresolved worry - expressed by Christian radio broadcasters, ministers and others was: If someone attacks a homosexual, will those speaking against homosexuality also be charged for inciting violence?
Satanic Verses play upsets German Muslims
German Muslims have expressed "regret" that a theatre near Berlin plans to stage the world premiere of a play based on Salman Rushdie's novel The Satanic Verses. "We regret that the religious sentiments of Muslims are being treated in a provocative manner," the president of the German Islamic Council, Ali Kizilkaya said, after his organisation publicly complained about the performance.
Iran's late revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa - or religious decree - in 1989 calling on Muslims to kill Mr Rushdie for perceived insults against Islam in his novel. Mr Rushdie, an Indian-born Muslim who was educated in Britain, was forced into hiding for nearly a decade. He was knighted by Britain's Queen Elizabeth II in 2007, a move that sparked a new wave of protest across the Muslim world.
The play, adapted from Mr Rushdie's 1988 book, was reworked for the stage by the manager of the Hans Otto Theatre in the eastern city of Potsdam, Uwe Eric Laufenberg, and dramatist Marcus Mislin.
Amid heavy media coverage of the upcoming premiere, the general secretary of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, Aiman Mazyek, has urged followers of Islam to remain calm over the staging of the play and engage in a "critical and constructive dialogue" about the issues it raises. But he also questions whether the play might go too far. "Freedom of expression and of art is importance but offences against what is sacred in a religion is not something we value," he said.
A police spokeswoman says authorities plan to step up security around the theatre during the performance. The team in Potsdam say they had received permission from Mr Rushdie to adapt his novel and have invited him to the performance but they say it is unclear whether the author will attend.
Pope, Wilders Hope for Murdered Nuns and Priests?
Mollie Z. Hemingway at Get Religion is confounded by an obnoxious Newsweek essay by Christopher Dickey titled "Christian Rage and Muslim Moderation." In it, you can see the Cold War echoes in it, with Newsweek taking up the usual schtick: the American (or conservative, or anti-Islamic) side is being clumsily, pointlessly, tastelessly provocative, while the Ayatollahs are calmly, reasonably planting seeds of a new detente. But it's Muslim rage, not the headlined Christian rage, that Dickey is suggesting that the "wrong" side is hoping to foment:
Pope Benedict XVI, an exiled Egyptian journalist, a bleach-blond Dutch parliamentarian and Danish cartoonists all have something in common with a Teddy bear named Mohammed. They have been at the center of that seething storm called Muslim rage in the last few months, and, with the exception of Mohammed T. Bear, they appear to be testing that anger to see if it will erupt . yet again.This is a really toxic charge that Dickey is implying, that the Pope and Geert Wilders (the "bleach-blond Dutch parliamentarian") are hoping to provoke a violent crisis in which priests, nuns, and rioters die. Newsweek ought to know better than unload this kind of balloon-full-of-blood smear - what with their own history of phony-Koran-flushing stories in 2005, not to mention Adm. Jeremy Boorda committing suicide in 1996 after Newsweek "provocatively" investigated whether his combat medals were fraudulent. (Oops, that also ended in hypocrisy.)
If it does, the crisis could peak just as Benedict begins his visit to the United States in mid-April. As he preaches world peace before the United Nations, once more we'll witness scenes of books and flags and effigies burning in the world of Muslims. If precedent holds, rioters may die in Kabul, a nun could be murdered in Somalia, a priest might be gunned down in Turkey. All this is all too predictable, as provocateurs like the peroxide blond must certainly know.
Does Newsweek editor Jon Meacham, who regularly unfurls long cover stories on religion and appears on television as a religious expert, really hope Americans will tune into Newsweek.com for his "Popecast," his online narration of the papal visit, when he approves this kind of article? "Please watch me describe the Holy Father, who seeks the death of priests and nuns at the hands of radical Muslims for the church's advance"?
Mollie first took issue with page two, and how blatantly Dickey dismisses how Wilders is a waste of his time and space, a human void, and his film Fitna isn't worth much more:
There's no use wasting much space on the Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders, the dyed blond with ugly roots who is promoting a film he says will prove his belief that "Islamic ideology is a retarded, dangerous one." What to say about a politician reminiscent of Goldmember in an Austin Powers film who claims the Qur'an should be banned like Adolph Hitler's "Mein Kampf"? No Dutch television network will show his little movie, so he released it on the Internet this week, reportedly drawing 2 million page views in the first three hours. The general reaction in Holland thus far has been little more than shoulder shrugging.Dickey also thinks the Danish cartoonists are reprehensible human beings only caring for their own fame:
Danish cartoonists and editors previously unknown to the wider world garnered international attention when they published caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in 2005 that brought on bloody riots in several Muslim countries in 2006. Having sunk once again into obscurity, the editors decided to publish one of the cartoons again last month, reportedly after the arrest of an individual plotting to kill the cartoonist. Great idea. Take one man's alleged crime and respond with new insults to an entire faith.But Dickey was really offended by Pope Benedict's provocation, baptizing Magdi Allam on the Easter Vigil:
The most problematic event of late, however, was Pope Benedict's decision to baptize the Egyptian journalist Magdi Allam in Saint Peter's on the night before Easter, thus converting a famously self-hating Muslim into a self-loving Christian in the most high-profile setting possible. Perhaps Benedict really thought, as the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano opined, that the baptism was just a papal "gesture" to emphasize "in a gentle and clear way religious freedom." But I am not prepared to believe for a second, as some around the Vatican have hinted this week, that the Holy Father did not know who Allam was or how provocative this act would appear to Muslim scholars, including and especially those who are trying to foster interfaith dialogue.This is where Mollie stepped in and really let Newsweek have it:
Ever since 2006, when Benedict cited a medieval Christian emperor talking about Islam as "evil and inhuman," and the usual Muslim rabble-rousers whipped up the usual Muslim riots, more responsible members of the world's Islamic community have hoped to restore calm and reason. And now this. "The whole spectacle, with its choreography, persona and messages provokes genuine questions about the motives, intentions and plans of some of the pope's advisers on Islam," said a statement issued by Aref Ali Nayed, a spokesman for 138 Muslim scholars who established the Catholic-Muslim Forum for dialogue with Rome earlier this month.
The most problematic event was the baptism of a journalist? For an article trying to argue that Muslims are moderate and Christians and those in the West are not, I'm having a really hard time here.Mollie's also right on in scolding Dickey for suggesting Allam was speaking for Pope Benedict in saying the Vatican's been "too prudent in converting Muslims." Dickey also suggests Allam is provoking Muslims so he can cash in:
If Newsweek is going to run this type of first-person-journalism-with-an-edge thing, could they pick people who are less cowardly? People who care about freedom of religion, the press, etc.? A reporter who gets why these values are important would do a much better job arguing that Pope Benedict XVI was being sinful when he baptized a prominent Muslim convert.
Allam claims he is hoping his public embrace of Catholicism will help other converts to speak out in public. But that hardly seems likely. The more probable scenario is that others will feel even more vulnerable, while Allam's books, like many Muslim-bashing screeds that preceded them, climb the best-seller lists.Mollie concluded:
And to say that Allam's public conversion was because he is greedy? That's a bit much, isn't it? As for the idea that Allam's conversion makes "others . . . feel even more vulnerable," it's not the best way to end a piece arguing that moderation carries the day in Islam. Or maybe I don't get why these "others" might feel so "vulnerable."
West slowly awakening from suicidal slumber?
It is, by any measure, a sunny day when moralising elites are forced to eat their words. Only a few short years ago many were busily deriding Australia as an "international pariah" on immigration. Indeed, only last year our new citizenship test was labelled as nasty stuff by people such as journalist David Marr and former Liberal PM Malcolm Fraser.
Enter the British Labour Government, which last month announced its intention to introduce tough new citizenship tests and, get this, bring in immigration controls "based on the Australian model". Far from pariah-dom, Australia is a role model on how to control immigration and integrate migrants. More important, as Western nations learn from one another, each new step taken looks more confident and assertive than the previous one.
Finally, perhaps, the West is realising, as Britain's Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks said late last year, that "it is confidence in your own heritage that allows you to be generous to those of another heritage".
Old ideas that should have never been discarded are being revisited. Although the Brown Government is pitching this as a "vision of British citizenship for the 21st century", it is, in reality, an old one. Prime Minister Gordon Brown's vision of British citizenship as one "founded on a unifying idea of rights matched with responsibilities" marks a long overdue turning point in Western thinking, a return to more sensible times where basic Western values were asserted with confidence.
For the past few decades, the progressive fad of minority rights, fuelled by multiculturalism, has flourished. Once a hard form of multiculturalism took root, one that treated all cultures as equal, the values of the host country were effectively under attack. Cultural relativism morphed into a virulent strand of Western self-loathing where tolerance was reinterpreted to mean tolerating those intolerant of Western culture and values. Brown's reforms are aimed at overturning that rights fetish, a counterproductive and indeed dangerously one-sided notion where people could demand of the state but the state could not demand of them.
These days the multiculti crowd is dwindling to a few stragglers. But they include people who should know better. Last month, Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the spiritual leader of the world's 77 million Anglicans, called for the introduction of some aspects of sharia law into Britain and told the BBC that Muslims should not be required to choose between "the stark alternatives of cultural loyalty and state loyalty".
The cultural loyalty that Williams robustly defended explains why parts of British society are already unofficially dispensing their own form of sharia law. A few weeks ago London's Daily Mail exposed how parallel courts were operating in Sheffield, Milton Keynes, Manchester, Dewsbury, Birmingham and other towns settled by the 43,000-strong Somali population. Violence within the Somali community is dealt with by groups of elders who meet to hand out punishments in the form of an apology and compensation to the victim. Aydraus Hassan, a Somali youth worker from Woolwich, told the Daily Mail that families rarely called in the police because they preferred their own system of justice. "This is how we have dealt with crime since the 10th century. This is something we can sort out for ourselves," he said.
Cultural loyalty also explains the heartbreaking reports of female genital mutilation among African communities in Britain. Last month, a Liverpool newspaper reported that, despite new laws to prohibit FGM, up to 90 per cent of women in some ethnic communities are mutilated. African tribal elders are being flown into Britain to perform the mutilation. This is happening under the noses of authorities for the simple reason that Western nations such as Britain succumbed to the scourge of cultural relativism where migrants were allowed to openly spurn Western values.
Brown's reforms are a small but important step in reasserting the traditional three-way contract: majority tolerance, minority loyalty and government vigilance in both directions. That contract, well understood by migrants in the 1950s and '60s when they arrived with a sense of obligation to the new country, knowing what was expected of them, was scuppered by multiculturalism. In a sign that the British Government is finally learning the lessons of the past three decades of multicultural mayhem, the 60-page green paper published by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith mentions the M-word only once, as follows, quoting from an Aberdeen participant: "Multiculturalism is a two-way street; they must accept us and change too."
As Brown outlined in his speech in London to launch the reforms, British citizenship will depend on migrants entering into a contract where rights are matched with responsibilities. For example, he says, people are protected from crime but in return agree to obey the law. People can expect and receive services but in return will pay their fair share of taxes and have an obligation to work. Britain will support families but will expect families to take care of their own. Importantly, the Brown Government will consider amending its Human Rights Act to create a new British bill of rights and responsibilities that will detail "not just what people are entitled to but what they are expected to do in return".
In line with Brown's notion of "earned citizenship", a new category of probationary citizens will not be entitled to full rights associated with citizenship. The Brown Government will explore whether some services - such as the right to post-18 education, the right to public housing and social security benefits - will apply only on full citizenship. Probationary citizens will be required to donate to a fund to help finance local public services.
The Brown Government's reforms are an acknowledgment of the "progressive dilemma" - the conflict between solidarity and diversity - outlined a few years ago by David Goodhart, editor of the progressive Prospect. Coming from a member of the Left, Goodhart's observations packed a punch. He talked about us not just living among strangers but having to share with them. "All such acts of sharing are more smoothly and generously negotiated if we can take for granted a limited set of common values and assumptions," he said.
The changes outlined by Brown are unashamedly about cementing solidarity, outlining a common identity and expecting migrants to sign on to the traditional social contract in an era of globalisation where more and more people born in one country want to live in another. It is Goodhart's thesis writ large and long overdue.
That Western governments are forced to articulate the importance of Western values and the traditional social contract tells you how far these core principles fell into disrepair. But at least, finally, it suggests that the West is slowly waking from its suicidal slumber.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.