Unclear language adding homosexuals to anti-hate law endangers Christians, say critics
One day after the Canadian Parliament voted down a measure reaffirming marriage "as the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others," the House of Commons passed a bill adding sexual orientation to the country's hate-propaganda law.

While Christians of course oppose the promotion of hatred against anyone, including homosexuals, and abhor any calls for violence against gays, many Canadian Christians are worried that yesterday's bill, C-250, limits their freedom to oppose homosexual behavior.

"Bill C-250 has the potential to silence reasonable debate on issues like marriage and school curricula and restrict the legitimate expression of moral and religious views on sexual practices," the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada said in a backgrounder before yesterday's vote. (A press release from the EFC, as well as Focus on the Family Canada, are forthcoming.)

"Canadians who are speaking out against the redefinition of marriage are already being accused of 'hate' speech by homosexual activists," Canada Family Action Coalition executive director Brian Rushfeldt told The Vancouver Sun. "[Under C-250,] the activists will begin to insist on prosecution to silence their critics with criminal sanctions."

The bill passed yesterday by a vote of 143-110, though, as CTV notes, "it's rare for a private member's bill to pass" in the Canadian House.

Though the bill must still pass the Canadian Senate and be given royal assent, The Globe and Mail of Toronto suggests that one of the first targets under the bill is Topeka, Kansas, homophobe Fred Phelps. He's someone who Christianity Today and 99.99 percent of American evangelicals believe is promoting a false and dangerous gospel that contradicts Christianity. And Christians join with others in denouncing his "God Hates Fags" campaign. But Weblog is unaware of his explicitly promoting violence against homosexuals.

That's the problem, says Alliance MP Brian Pallister. "Where do you draw the line? To suppress free speech only drives bigots and abusers underground," he said. "You want those people out in the open, then they show how stupid they really are."

Under the law, promotion of hatred is punishable by up to five years in prison.

Dutch treat
Calvin College student Andrew Vanden Heuvel just accidentally discovered a comet. But he can't name it after himself because there's already a comet called Vanden Heuvel. Which is also the name of 23 percent of the heavily Dutch student body. (Just kidding.)

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Ten Commandments:

  • ACLU sues over Ten Commandments display in Georgia | Officials in Barrow County have vowed to keep the 3-by-4-foot framed display in the courthouse, where it has hung for 18 months (Associated Press)

  • Moore: Move 10 Commandments to Capitol | By its very action as the elected representatives of the American people, Congress would restore the balance of power between the branches of government and would send a message to federal courts that we, the people, have the final word on our inalienable right to acknowledge God," Moore said in a statement (Associated Press)

  • Alabama judge offers Ten Commandments to Congress (Reuters)

  • Plans made for second monument | Just in case Roy Moore's Ten Commandments monument is in demand in two cities, plans are being made to commission a second, similar display, advocates said Wednesday (The Birmingham News, Ala.)

  • Suit seeks to force Barrow to remove Commandments | The American Civil Liberties Union will ask for a federal court order today to force Barrow County commissioners to remove a framed display of the Ten Commandments from the county courthouse, said Maggie Garrett, ACLU staff attorney (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  • Minor delay for Barrow suit | The U.S. District Court in Gainesville notified the ACLU Tuesday morning by telephone that the lawsuit it had received against Barrow County commissioners could not continue until the ACLU submits the $150 filing fee (Athens Banner-Herald, Ga.)

  • First Amendment as solid as a granite monument | The Ten Commandments display was yet another attempt to bring religion into public places and public life (Maya Valverde, The Olympian, Wash.)

  • State vs. religion: Test of boundaries in Florida | Political debates in America are not between people who hold religious views and people who do not, but between people who hold different and sometimes sharply conflicting religious views (David C. Steinmetz, The Orlando Sentinel)

Church life:

  • Dismay over Presbyterian-backed church for Jews | Philadelphia's Jewish community leaders, and some Presbyterian clergy, are dismayed that the prominent Protestant denomination is wooing Jews (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

  • Megachurches, megabusinesses | Pastors often act as chief executives and use business tactics to grow their congregations (Forbes)

  • A wide Bible belt | Residents are fighting church expansion plans that are swallowing their neighborhood (FW Weekly, Ft. Worth, Tex.)

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Pop culture:

  • Spiritually profitable gaming | In a genre known for acts of obligatory and explicit violence, do videogames with Christian themes stand a chance? (Forbes)

  • Kurt Warner, Pt. II: I still think saga is a matter of faith | A number of people called and e-mailed to tell me I was out of line with a recent column in which I suggested that perhaps Kurt Warner had sold his soul to the devil for three years of success on the football field (Bill McClellan, St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

  • Major motion picture chronicles life of Martin Luther | $30 million production condenses about 30 years in Luther's life to an hour and 56 minutes and stars Joseph Fiennes (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

  • Garth, Mel | Of all the sacred texts to bring to the screen, why did you pick the most adversarial Gospel? (Donald Harman Akenson, The Globe and Mail, Toronto)


  • How American culture influences worship | The United States was the first country in the world to write freedom of religion into its constitution, notes Alan Wolfe, sociologist and author of The Transformation of American Religion, and whether we like it or not, we are considered one of the most religious nations in the West (Los Angeles Times)

  • It's no mystery—these books sell | Christian publishers cautiously stir some violence into the mix, but sex and alcohol are still out (Publishers Weekly)

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  • Love—and then some | With a handful of spin-off genres, inspirational romance just got a whole lot trickier to shelve (Publishers Weekly)

  • Beyond evangelical fiction | Though CBA fiction rules in sales, there are myriad choices from other religion traditions (Publishers Weekly)

  • T.D. Jakes uses fiction to lead spiritual journeys | In his books and sermons, Jakes tackles issues such as child abuse, domestic violence, unhealthy sexual relationships and changing gender roles (Religion News Service)

  • Praising God through poetry | Local couple create library of poets' works on the Web (The Ledger, Lakeland, Fla.)


  • Church embezzler left many victims | Ross Perry received a 46-month prison sentence after pleading guilty to nine different federal charges for embezzling $1.6 million from the church where he served as treasurer and for evading more than $1 million in federal taxes, both personal and corporate (Portsmouth Herald, N.H.)

  • Jury clears pastor | The Rev. James Grove and his followers protested abortion along a parade route (York Daily Record, Pa.)

  • Pot found growing on church's rooftop | The plants, each about one meter in height, were growing in pots inside 29 large plastic garbage containers (Canadian Press)

  • Mexico AG defends probe of cardinal | Mexico's attorney general's office Tuesday defended its investigation of a Catholic cardinal for possible money laundering, rejecting suggestions from church officials that the probe was launched to divert attention from a disputed homicide case (Associated Press)


  • Church abuse victims sought by Ireland | Thousands of victims of child abuse in Ireland's orphanages and workhouses who now live abroad don't know they qualify for hefty compensation payments from the Irish government, the leader of a survivors' group said Tuesday (Associated Press)

  • Church limits access to records on abuse | Revisions to policy, which church officials say were necessary to correct ambiguous language in the published policy, have drawn criticism from advocates for abuse victims, who fear a backing away by the church from promises of greater openness in such matters (The Boston Globe)

  • Priest: Bishop wanted abuse cases hidden | The former head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix once ordered a priest to come to him instead of going to police with reports of sexual abuse, according to information gathered by prosecutors (Associated Press)

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  • Ruined files spark allegation | Priest says bishop called Springfield diocese 'fortunate' (Associated Press)

  • Accused Orange County priest put on leave | Dominic Nguyen is suspected of acquiring child porn. Other sex abuse cases await (Los Angeles Times)

  • Monsignor said to be barred for allegation of sex abuse | Msgr. Charles M. Kavanagh, the highest-ranking cleric of the Archdiocese of New York to be implicated in the Roman Catholic Church's sexual abuse scandal, has been permanently barred from serving as a priest, two pastors who have been in contact with him or his family said (The New York Times)

  • Cage defiler for life, demand church leaders | Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ) executive director Paul Mususu and Zambia Episcopal Conference (ZEC) secretary general Ignatius Mwebe said the Penal code should be amended to provide for life sentence for defilers (The Times of Zambia)


Other articles of interest:

  • David vs. Goliath | Wal-Mart Stores has seen the light. The world's biggest retailer has discovered Christian-themed merchandise is one of the fastest-growing categories around (Forbes)

  • Preaching parrot on the wing | A fire-and-brimstone preaching parrot is on the lam and his southern Alberta owner is praying for the bird's return (Canadian Press)

  • Embattled Scouts struggle to maintain funding, ideology | The Boy Scouts now are newly embroiled in a culture war with local governments and charities over gay rights, religion, and morality (The Boston Globe)

  • New Knott's ride puts an old chapel in motion | A final service at the Church of Reflections will be held Oct. 5 before the pews, stained-glass windows and steeple are torn out, moved and reassembled across Beach Boulevard on a site just northeast of Knott's replica of Independence Hall (Los Angeles Times)

  • Cell-tower plan trips up sale of nuns' land | But for an unbuilt 100-foot cross, the Bernardine Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis would have found a way by now to save the 40-room stucco mansion they have owned since 1947 (The New York Times)

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