Friday, September 05, 2003

Sept. 5. 2003 vigil over gay marriage

The Cambridge Reporter
September 5, 2003 Friday Final Edition

HEADLINE: MPs face prayer vigils over gay marriage

Local MPs will be the targets of fervent prayer on Sunday afternoon as opponents of proposed same-sex marriage legislation rally in front of constituency offices.

It's a two-pronged approach, according to Harold Albrecht, pastor of Pathway Community Church, which meets in Brigadoon Public School in Kitchener.

"We're praying and we're taking a public stand," he said. "The two need to go together.

"It's too easy for us to cloister ourselves in our holy huddles."

Albrecht is helping to organize a prayer rally in front of the St. Jacobs constituency office of Waterloo-Wellington MP Lynn Myers. It will be one of more than 150 prayer rallies across the country that have been co-ordinated in part by the Canada Family Action Coalition, a non-denominational Christian group based in Calgary.

So far, prayer rallies are planned outside the offices of more than 150 of the 301 members of Parliament across Canada.

The coalition has been working with other Christian groups -- including REAL Women of Canada and Canada Christian College in Toronto -- to plan the rallies. The coalition is urging opponents of the federal government's intention to legalize same-sex marriage to gather outside the politicians' offices at 3 p.m.

Albrecht said he will be praying for wisdom for government leaders.

"As a believer, I certainly feel that the source of our wisdom is God's Word," he said. "We will be praying that all of our leaders will be open to God's wisdom in this, and not bow to a very small group who currently have a different view.

"I want to make this very clear -- this is not an anti-homosexual rally. We're here to defend and support (heterosexual) marriage.

Albrecht said he believes it's important for family stability to keep marriage heterosexual.

Myers, in an interview Wednesday, said he was invited to the rally in front of his office but had a previous engagement so he won't be able to attend.

However, Myers said, he wasn't distressed by the gathering.

"That's the beauty of democracy," he said. "People have the right to meet and assemble and say what they want or do what they want -- in this case, pray as they see fit, which is very fine by me.

"I just hope it doesn't turn into what happened to my colleague (Kitchener-Waterloo MP) Andrew Telegdi, where it looked like a setup."

During a meeting last week in Waterloo with opponents of two pieces of federal legislation, Telegdi called one of the pastors in attendance a "liar" and stormed out.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Hutton: Alta. should split from Canada and buy nuclear subs

Archived news story:
    Canadian Press Newswire
    March 25, 2003

    Alta. should split from Canada and buy nuclear subs, says separatist group

    EDMONTON (CP) _ Nuclear submarines armed with long-range missiles could help Alberta gain international clout if the province were to secede from Canada, says the leader of a fledgling separatist group.

    ''One of the things that was suggested would be a couple of nuclear submarines moving around the world,'' Bruce Hutton told a news conference Tuesday.

    ''That makes us a formidable power. With the amount of money we've sent to Ottawa in the last six years, we could have nuclear submarines.''

    Hutton, a former Mountie who strongly opposed the national gun registry, said 5,000 signatures are still needed to give his Separation Party of Alberta official status in Alberta. Nonetheless, he is predicting they will win 11 seats in the next provincial election.

    Premier Ralph Klein has said he believes Albertans want to remain within the country.

    ''I strongly feel that Albertans want to be part of Canada and they want to be recognized as part of Canada. I don't think that they want to separate, they simply want their voice to be heard.''

    Although there is little desire for separation, Klein has said, his party will hold a panel discussion about it at its annual policy convention this weekend in Red Deer, Alta.

Friday, February 21, 2003

Minister battles military over faith: Jewish group joins Pentecostal in bid to diversify chaplaincy

Minister battles military over faith: Jewish group joins Pentecostal in bid to diversify chaplaincy

Tom Blackwell
National Post

21 February 2003
National Post

Religious services in the Canadian forces are controlled exclusively by a few major Christian churches, discriminating against other faiths and minority Christian sects, a Pentecostal minister has charged in a human rights complaint.

The forces have 29 Anglican chaplains -- eight times the percentage of Anglicans in the general population -- but no Jews, Hindus or Muslims, Reverend Sheldon Johnston notes in his complaint.

The 35-year-old from Castlegar, B.C., is getting support from a major Jewish group, which says the Department of National Defence must better represent Canada's spiritual mosaic.

"What we have right now is a handful of religious groups that are judging other groups and saying that they are not worthy to be represented, which I think is wrong," Rev. Johnston said.

"I think it has a huge impact on minority groups. This is a primary reason why there isn't that much diversity."

Religions are supposed to be represented in the military chaplaincy based on the number of troops who declare themselves to be members of those churches.

But Rev. Johnston said the declarations may not accurately reflect the makeup of the army, navy and air force.

A Defence spokesman admitted yesterday the unit does not represent modern Canada and said officials are working on the problem, starting with the recruitment of the forces' first Muslim chaplain.

Imam Suleyman Demiray, a native of Turkey, is expected to get into basic training this fall.

"We know right now that we are not reflective of Canadian society, so we've got a lot of work to do and it's going to take some time," said Lieutenant-Colonel Dave Kettle, a chaplaincy spokesman.

Rev. Johnston, of the Church of God Canada, said the forces must go further and end for good their practice of having quotas for the number of chaplains from different Christian churches.

The chaplains' mission is broad: to bolster "operational effectiveness" by contributing to the moral and spiritual well-being of troops and their families.

The unit, with 144 regular force chaplains, is divided into two services: Catholic and Protestant.

According to figures Rev. Johnston obtained from the Defence Department, just under half are Catholic, 19% are Anglican, 11% are United Church and 4.4% are evangelical.

Catholics make up 41% of the general population, Anglicans -- 2.4%, United Church members -- 5.4% and evangelicals -- 9.5%. Non-Christian religions comprise 26% of Canadians, according to the figures.

Rev. Johnston said he has tried more than once to become a chaplain himself, but was effectively rejected because there were already three Pentecostals: the quota allotted the denomination.

He said Canada should adopt the system used in the United States, where an independent panel chooses chaplains based on their potential as spiritual advisors and officers, regardless of their religious affiliation.

The Canadian Human Rights Commission has told him that it was unable to mediate a resolution to the dispute, and plans to refer it to a human rights tribunal for trial, he said.

B'Nai Brith, the Jewish human rights organization, backs his crusade and is considering a formal intervention, said Anita Bromberg, a spokeswoman.

"The life of a soldier is a tough life," she said. "Not having access to the appropriate [religious] support mechanisms can make the life certainly more difficult."