Evangelical at center of election controversy
While the U.S. waits to hear who won its presidential election two weeks ago, Canada is gearing up for its elections on Monday. It's a lot different from elections down here. Remember, they have a prime minister. Not a president. If you want a primer on how it all works from a U.S. perspective, as well as a rundown of the major parties, see this much-republished piece from the Los Angeles Times. But for the purposes of Weblog, all you have to know is that the Canadian Alliance, headed by evangelical-Pentecostal layman Stockwell Day, is the leading opposition party (see Christianity Today's earlier coverage of Day's rise here). Day's religious comments have increasingly come under attack as the election draws closer, most recently centering on his creationist beliefs. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) recently aired a report saying Day has recently taught the earth is merely 6,000 years old and that humans and dinosaurs lived at the same time. Day called the report "yellow journalism," said that he did not think his views on creation "should be used in any kind of detrimental way in an election campaign," and noted that Prime Minister Jean Chretien, a Roman Catholic, was not asked to debate transubstantiation or the Immaculate Conception. A campaign spokesman later noted that Day "doesn't have any problem with the theory of evolution," but wants schools to be open to teaching other theories as well. The National Post uses the controversies to flesh out what it means to be a Pentecostal, which "to many people, and arguably to most politicians and journalists ... is a strange, exotic species rarely encountered and seldom known." (If you like the article, see Christian History magazine's issue on the history of Pentecostalism.) Meanwhile, The Globe and Mail looks at Canadian evangelicals and their voting patterns.

Trinity Western waits for a decision
The Supreme Court of Canada heard arguments November 9 in the civil case between Trinity Western University (TWU) and the British Columbia College of Teachers (BCCT). The BCCT denied the Christian school full accreditation in 1996, saying that its stance on homosexuality is a discriminatory practice. The court reserved its decision, and a ruling is now expected in spring or summer 2001. Response to the court's questioning was mixed. TWU's press release says, "University officials felt the case received a good hearing, that the Supreme Court justices understood the issues and asked excellent questions of the various presenters." But The National Post noted that several of the justices' questions were flabbergasting. ""It's all very well to say, 'love the sinner but hate the sin,' " said Justice Ian Binnie. "But is that not a contradiction in terms? While the religious may preach tolerance, religion is often an engine of intolerance." Similarly, Justice Claire L'Heureux-Dube said, "We have all this love stuff," but suggested that Trinity's teaching that homosexuality is a sin is akin to teaching that Jews should be killed. Toronto Sun columnist Marianne Meed Ward notes the questions, and concludes that "accusations of intolerance fall on fertile ground in 'tolerant' Canada."

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More from the Supreme Court
In another Christian higher education case, The Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear an appeal launched to halt the liquidation of St. Thomas More and Vancouver College, which are run by the Roman Catholic Christian Brothers order. The schools are fighting against bankruptcy, which stems from costs of compensating abuse victims at the Mount Cashel orphanage in Newfoundland. The abuse cases are bankrupting churches across Canada. Students at the schools will be able to finish out the year. "We're not thugs," explains the victims' lawyer. "We're not going to move into the schools and drag students out of their desks. We'll do this in a civilized manner."

There is a free lunch
Another of the churches caught in the abuse controversy is the United Church of Canada. When it goes to court next month in another round of lawsuits, members of the church will be offering the plaintiffs tea, soup, and ham and cheese sandwiches. Susan Lindenberger, a Vancouver church member who is organizing the lunches, says it's a way "to make real the words we've offered in our apologies." The churches have apologized for the "pain and suffering that our Church's involvement in the Indian Residential School system has caused," but denies legal responsibility in the legal actions that threaten to bankrupt it.

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