The News And Nation (February 03, 2018)

In the News and Nation, we regularly highlight for you important stories from across Canada and the world. We want to start conversations about how Christians ought to respond to the unstable world around us.

In this week’s edition, the Prime Minister back-peddles on the pro-choice requirement for the Canadian Summer Jobs program; Larry Nassar sentenced to 175 Years; the UK appoints a minister of loneliness; the Ontario Divisional Court ruling; the Vatican betrays the Catholic church in China.

The Prime Minister Back-Peddles on the Pro-Choice Requirement for the Canadian Summer Jobs Program

Recently, the Canadian government updated the application to apply for the Canadian Summer Jobs Program. The application now includes a check box in which employers must affirm, “women’s reproductive rights.” In short, organizations must affirm the right for women to abort children. The Prime Minister and Patty Hajdu tried to assuage the worries of those Canadians who felt unable to sign the attestation within the application.

David Haskell explains, “Late last week, in an effort to suppress a burgeoning controversy, both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Employment Minister Patty Hajdu said that the changes were not meant to affect all Christian organizations, but rather, only those whose “core mandate” was one of suppression of abortion rights.”

So what does this mean for Christians whose “core mandate” does not include “suppression of abortion rights”? Haskell writes, “The implication was thus that other religious groups should simply check the box, knowing it was not meant to target them.”

In other words, the government implies that Christians should check a box that denies that they are pro-life. But unless the Trudeau and Hajdu explicitly redefine the meaning of question (which seems doubtful), then Christians may be unable to check the box, affirming “women’s reproductive rights.” In the words of Haskel, it would “betray their conscience.”

Many wanted further clarification. And On January 23rd, they got it. The government released Supplementary Information concerning the Canada Summer Jobs Program, but that has hardly clarified matters.

Deina Warren writes, “Even with the additional definitions it is likely that Christian (and other religious) organizations will still be unable to affirm the attestation with its somewhat clarified meaning by simply checking the box.”

So what should churches do? Deina advises churches to apply as there is “value in applying because doing so creates a record of applications and (potentially) a record of rejections on the basis that applicants’ religious beliefs do not align with state morality.”

The deadline for applications was slated to end on February 2nd but was extended to February 9th. So, let’s hope the Canadian government will continue to receive letters like the one provided by Calvary Grace Church. Perhaps we can still change their minds.

In any case, Christians don’t always get to pick the government that they have. But they always have the privilege of praying for those in authority over them. Let’s not fail in our duty to pray for governmental leaders and especially that God would bring the grace of salvation into their lives through Jesus Christ.

Larry Nassar Sentenced to 175 Years

Larry Nassar abused over 150 years young “women and girls” over his career as a doctor. By using his authority as a medical doctor, he preyed on women and girls. His case is one of the most public illustrations of evil that our generation has ever seen. While sentencing Nassar, Judge Rosemarie Aquilina said, “I’ve just signed your death warrant.” The implication is clear: Nassar is evil and deserves his just rewards.

And yet, what makes this case so interesting is not Nassar’s objective evil nor the judge’s condemnation of it, but the redemptive speech of Rachael Denhollander. She was the first to bring accusations against Nassar publicly, and she led the way for Nassar’s victims to see justice done. In her presentation, Denhollander clearly called for justice while elevating the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If you are a Christian (or if you are a human!), you owe it to yourself to listen to Rachael here. Then listen to Judge Aquilina’s response to her victim testimony.

The transcript of victim testimony can be found here, and be sure to read Erin Ford’s helpful reflection on our culture of minimization that enabled Nassar and others like him.

The UK Appoints a Minister of Loneliness

The United Kingdom has appointed a minister of loneliness to combat the problem of isolation. The New York Times reports, “More than nine million people in the country often or always feel lonely, according to a 2017 report published by the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness.” The sad reality is that many of us feel alone. Although this is a sad situation, it provides an opportunity for the church in that nation to invite people into the family of God, to “accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you” (Rom 15:7 NIV).

The Ontario Divisional Court Ruling

In an Ontario Divisional Court Ruling on February 1st, the court ruled that the rights of the patients override the rights of religious freedom, so that doctors must refer patients for an abortion or assisted suicide. In the province of Ontario, Christian medical professionals will now have to face a crisis of conscience. Can you be a Christian medical doctor within a practice that refers abortions and assisted suicide?

For more on this see, Deina Warren’s excellent article here.

The Vatican Betrays the Catholic Church in China?

Recently, the Vatican asked two underground bishops of the Roman Catholic church in China to step down and to let government appointed bishops take their place. The New York Times explains, “In a move that has upset many in the Roman Catholic Church, the Vatican asked two “underground” bishops in China to surrender their positions to individuals approved by the country’s authoritarian government, including one the Vatican had excommunicated, a cardinal who traveled to Rome said on Monday.”

Joseph Cardinal Zen of Hong Kong said, “Do I think that the Vatican is selling out the Catholic Church in China? Yes, definitely.” When your religious leader betrays your local leaders for government appointees, you know that there is a problem.

What Do you Think?

What do you think of these stories? Comment on our social media platforms to let us know. How should we as Christians respond to the news across Canada and the world?