Christian groups in Canada are concerned over the passage of a bill that includes "sexual orientation" among groups specially protected from hate crimes. Christians have protested the bill for months saying that the Bible's condemnation of homosexual acts could be considered hate literature, but yesterday the Canadian Senate passed the bill 59-11 following a decade-long effort by a gay MP.

"While opposing the promotion of hatred against anyone, we are deeply concerned about the chilling effect this legislation may have on the legitimate expression of religious belief," said Bruce Clemenger, president of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada.

The existing hate crimes law makes it illegal to incite hatred against an identifiable group based on color, race, religion, and ethnicity, but by adding sexual orientation, Christians fear that the freedom to oppose homosexual activity either from the pulpit or in the home is in danger. "Christians have seen their rights to dissent restricted by case after case in the courts," said Janet Epp Buckingham, director of Law and Public Policy for the EFC. "We no longer trust that the guarantee of religious freedom in the Charter is necessarily going to apply to protect religious free speech."

Lorna Dueck, a Christian broadcaster and author, wrote in the Globe and Mail, "Bill C-250 says that moral views, motivated by religious text, can be equated with hatred. Thus, if church teaching refers to homosexuality as brokenness or sin (as in, missing the ideal), it could be charged as being hate propaganda."

The main complaint Christians have is that the bill does not adequately define hate or sexual orientation. At a rally Francois Beyrouti, a Catholic priest in Ottawa, asked "Will pedophilia be considered a sexual orientation?" Others ask if expressing moral views regarding homosexuality would qualify as hate.

Interestingly, several stories mention Fred Phelps, who runs a web site saying God hates gays. Phelps has organized rallies in Canada, and police say they have been powerless to stop it. Mainstream Christian groups in Canada have denounced such actions, Canadian Christianity says.

Dueck says the bill's sponsor, Svend Robinson, had said he would not oppose a carefully worded statement to protect religious freedom. However, such a statement was not included. Without such consideration for the possible effects of the law, Canadian politicians trivialize the religious and moral beliefs of their citizens. California's Supreme Court showed a similar trivialization when it told Catholic Charities it was not a religious organization and therefore not exempt from a law requiring employers' health policies to pay for contraception.

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These rulings display the secularist ideology of government leaders who don't mind people who believe in a religion, as long as they don't act on it or teach it. Likewise, the broader cultural value of self-expression blurs the distinction between disapproval of behavior and animus toward the person. Christians cansay "Then neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin."

More on Canada's c-250 bill:

Muslim/Christian violence in Indonesia and Thailand:

  • Indonesian attack claims rejected | Indonesia's military denied allegations that soldiers had taken part in an attack on a church in the eastern city of Ambon, which has been wracked by five days of Muslim-Christian violence. (The Age, Australia)

  • Snipers still sowing fear in Indonesia's Ambon | Snipers are spreading fear in parts of the Indonesian island of Ambon but most of the city was calmer after four days of Muslim-Christian fighting which killed at least 37 people. (Channel News Asia, Singapore)

  • Arroyo hands over reward for death of Abu Sayyaf leader | Philippines President Gloria Arroyo on Wednesday personally handed a reward of five million pesos (89,700 dollars) to a masked informant who helped troops kill a top Al Qaeda-linked terrorist. (AFP)Police vow to get tough in Ambon | Indonesia's police chief has pledged to disarm Christian separatist fighters in the troubled Maluku province amid claims soldiers took part in an attack on a church. (CNN)

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  • Hatred, mistrust reigns in Indonesia city | Zeth Supusepa, an Indonesian Christian, is in no mood for forgiveness as he explains how suspected Muslim attackers hurled a bomb at him outside a church in the eastern city of Ambon. (Associated Press)

  • Ambon enjoys uneasy calm | Snipers spread terror in parts of Indonesia's Ambon, but most of the city was calm after four days of Muslim-Christian fighting which has killed at least 37 people.(The Age, Australia)

  • US to hand over reward for Abu guerrilla's arrest | The United States is to reward a Filipino informant who led authorities to the arrest of an Abu Sayyaf Muslim guerrilla who beheaded an American hostage in 2001, the US embassy in Manila said Thursday. (Agence France-Presse)

  • Tip sent 108 Thai rebels to deaths | Police and troops were lying in wait when the Islamic raiders attacked. The ensuing clashes and casualties underscore growing unrest in south. (Los Angeles Times)

  • Death at the mosque | Whatever the real explanation for yesterday's violence in southern Thailand - some Thais are already talking of a "massacre" - it is unlikely to reflect well either on Islamist leaders or on the government of Thaksin Shinawatra, the prime minister. (Financial Times)

  • More than 100 dead in Muslim battles in Thailand | Troops and police killed more than 100 gun and machete-wielding Muslim militants Wednesday, including more than 30 in a three-hour mosque shoot-out, on a day of carnage in Thailand's restive south. (Reuters)

  • Thai forces were ready for attacks | Over 100 militants killed in Muslim South (Washington Post)

  • Tip sent 108 Thai rebels to deaths | Police and troops were lying in wait when the Islamic raiders attacked. The ensuing clashes and casualties underscore growing unrest in south. (Los Angeles Times)

Religious freedom:

Religion & politics:

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  • 'Invisible army' key in GOP matchup | Their ranks are thousands strong, hunkered at dining-room tables reading books, conjugating verbs, doing math and science lessons with their children. They're home- schoolers - predominantly Republican parents, often religiously motivated, with their own special interest in politicians who shape the nation's education policy. (Rocky Mountain News, Colorado)

  • Promise Keepers seeks greater role on social issues | The new leader of Promise Keepers says the organization will seek greater influence in debates over explosive social issues such as abortion and gay marriage, a shift from its traditional focus on helping men become better family men and Christians. (Denver Post)

  • Catholic breakfast draws officials | The first National Catholic Prayer Breakfast drew an overflow crowd of more than 1,000 yesterday, including several members of Congress who used the occasion to reinforce the denomination's stance on hot-button political issues. (Washington Times)

  • Religious wars in the United States | We're at war, all right, but not just against terrorism. We're fighting an even more massive and ultimately divisive conflict: our internecine battle over America's religiosity and the extent to which we want our secular laws dictated by certain religious beliefs. (Bonnie Erbe, Seattle Post Intelligencer)

  • Church heads urge public to vote against 'racist' BNP | Church leaders denounced the British National Party as "racist and fascist" yesterday and urged people not to vote for it. (Telegraph, UK)

Frontline's documentary on Bush's faith:

  • A timely look at how faith informs Bush presidency | George W. Bush may be the most openly religious president in memory, yet Americans have been neither privy to his personal journey on the road to Damascus nor fully aware of the political implications of the scales falling from his eyes. (Boston Globe)

  • 'Frontline' takes a balanced look at Bush's religious faith | The Bush seen here may startle those who've doubted either the authenticity of his faith-based convictions or his political smarts. What can be difficult sometimes, as "The Jesus Factor" makes clear, is distinguishing between the two. And how much that should matter. (Cox News Service)

  • Understanding the president and his God | The question is not, When did George W. Bush accept Jesus as his personal savior? The "Frontline" documentary "The Jesus Factor," on PBS tonight, raises a different issue: Do most Americans realize just how fervent the president's evangelical faith really is? (New York Times)

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  • In God, George W trusts | 'Jesus' looks at Prez' faith (New York Daily News)

  • Praying with the President | "I gave him a firm handshake and said, on behalf of our great clergy I'd like to welcome you to Pittsburgh," Luisi recalled saying. He then asked Bush, "Might I pray with you?" Bush answered, "Father, a lot of people are praying for me now, and I appreciate that," and then instinctively nodded his head in prayer. (Pittsburgh Post Gazette)

  • 'Frontline' explores Bush's religious bent | What you'll see tonight on "Frontline," which airs at 9 p.m. on KPBS/Channel 15 with some repeats, is an evenhanded, even cautious, examination of the former Texas governor who years ago told a group of people, "I believe that God wants me to be president." (San Diego Union-Tribune)

  • Muckraker: Getting in Bush's faith | Christian leaders challenge Bush's environmental policy (Working for Change)

  • 'The Jesus Factor' and George W. Bush | Bush is not the nation's first born-again Christian president. That was Jimmy Carter. Nor is he unique in using religious references to rally Americans, a tactic favored since our Founding Fathers. The major distinction, proposes "The Jesus Factor," is the degree to which Bush's mindset was influenced by his 1987 conversion. (Seattle Times)

  • 'Jesus Factor' explores president's strong Christian convictions | George W. Bush's conversion was timely and seen as bone-deep sincere (The Oregonian)

  • The Lord and George Bush on 'Frontline' | George W. Bush is described on the broadcast as "the most openly religious president in generations," which is the kind of claim the media like to make without acknowledging their own role. (Kansas City Star)

Church & state:

  • Ten Commandments judge visits lawmakers | Roy Moore, who was ousted as Alabama's chief justice for refusing to remove a Ten Commandments monument from his courthouse, met with sympathetic lawmakers Wednesday to drum up support for legislation promoting the public acknowledgment of God. (Associated Press)

  • Cross removal protested | Ban: Officials will remove Christian symbol from a city logo at the insistence of the ACLU. (The Press-Enterprise, Calif.)

Gay marriage:

  • Maine governor signs domestic partner bill | Gov. John Baldacci signed a bill Wednesday creating domestic partnerships in Maine. The new law, which takes effect in 90 days, extends domestic partnership rights to heterosexual or gay adults who live together under long-term arrangements. It also gives domestic partners the same inheritance rights as a spouse when a married partner dies without a will. (Associated Press)

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Life ethics:

Christian/Jewish relations:

  • Wiesel: Talk anti-Semitism with Muslims | A true dialogue on anti-Semitism in the 21st century must include Muslims as well as Christians and Jews, said Holocaust survivor, author, and Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel on Wednesday. (Jerusalem Post, Israel)

  • A town priest and rabbi are to be honored for their close relationship | In February, shortly before the opening of Mel Gibson's film "The Passion of the Christ," the Rev. Jeffrey Walker of Christ Church Greenwich called a meeting to discuss how the congregation should respond to the controversial film. Then he did something he has done countless times before: He reached out to Mitchell Hurvitz, 39, the rabbi at Temple Sholom (Greenwich Time, Conn.)

Rutgers apologizes for Holocaust cartoon:

  • Rutgers student newspaper apologizes for Holocaust cartoon | Claiming a cartoon about the Holocaust prompted a "disastrous misunderstanding," the editors of a Rutgers student newspaper on Wednesday issued an apology that called its publication a mistake. (Bridgewater Courier News, NJ)

  • Cartoon called a mistake | Claiming a cartoon about the Holocaust prompted a "disastrous misunderstanding," the editors of a Rutgers student newspaper yesterday issued an apology that called its publication a mistake. (New Brunswick Home News Tribune, NJ)

War and terror:

  • Marines find faith amid the fire | Four members of Echo Company are baptized on the battlefield in Fallouja — at a school from which they've been fighting insurgents. (Los Angeles Times)

  • US dilemma over Iraq's mosques | US forces battling the insurgency in the Iraqi cities of Najaf and Falluja face similar dilemmas over the issue of mosques in combat zones. BBC religious affairs correspondent Jane Little analysis what Islam actually has to say about attacking mosques or using them in battle. (BBC)

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  • Muslim actor speaks on misuse of religion | Shah Rukh Khan, a Muslim actor married to a Hindu, says his success as one of India's top movie stars proves India's inherent secularism, and urged his compatriots to oppose the misuse of religion. (Associated Press)

Missions & ministry:

  • Churches bring in 'patient listeners' | Stephen Ministers provide quality, one-on-one Christian care to those experiencing a life crisis. More than 8,500 churches of 90 denominations in the U.S., including several in the Tri-Valley, have called up Stephen Ministers from among their congregations, said Marilyn Goodnight, who with her husband Tom leads this program at St. Philip. (Contra Costa Times, Calif.)

  • Mixture of sports and sex assailed | Ex-NFL star speaks to Promise Keepers (Rocky Mountain News, Colorado)

  • Church relief operation helps to heal wounds | Catholics have found an appropriate way to heal the scars left by a vicious mob attack on the historic Sacred Heart Church in Keamari more than 11 years ago. Late last year, Catholic workers turned the church compound into the hub of a relief operation undertaken in aid of fishermen living nearby. (Deepika, India)

  • Presentation gives glimpse into Sudanese culture | Meeting helps community to understand Sudanese immigrants (Grand Island Independent, Nebraska)

  • Scotts realize goal of home ownership with Habitat house | Scotts realize goal of home ownership with Habitat house (Keokuk Gate City Daily, IA)

Church life:

  • Poll: Christian men unhappy with church | More than half of American Christian men questioned in a survey were only marginally satisfied with their church experience, and most ranked family, money and health as more important than spirituality, according to a study released Wednesday by Promise Keepers. The survey also found that most of the respondents did not feel spiritually challenged. (Associated Press)

  • Church joining network for spiritual 'purpose' | Algonquin area residents from a local church join a world-wide network of spiritual reflection this month for the first time. (Algonquin Countryside, Ill.)

UMC conference:

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  • Visa issues cited, gay debate looms at Methodist talks | United Methodist bishops opened their denomination's national meeting Tuesday by protesting a federal immigration agency decision to deny visas for 42 church leaders from Africa and the Philippines. (Jackson Sun, Tenn.)



  • Religious convictions shaped Reagan | Kengor's God and Ronald Reagan Documents Steadfast Faith (Human Events)

  • On the Bush beat | Kevin Phillips and Arianna Huffington have their eyes on the president in two new books (Metro Newspapers, Calif.)

  • Ugly as Sin | Glorious Appearing is such an ugly expression of Christianity that I could not help but think of all the beauty of Christianity that is missing from it. (New Republic)

  • Controversial novel | A fast-selling novel is also at the center of one of religion's fastest growing controversies . The Book is called the Da Vinci Code. And this fictional mystery about Jesus having a wife has generated quite a backlash. The book is barely a year old, and already 10 other books have come out to refute the Da Vinci Code's premise, a premise that Jesus was much more mortal than immortal. (WMC, Tenn.)

  • Is 'The Da Vinci Code' blasphemous? | Historical fiction murder mystery angering Catholics (MSNBC)

  • Tales of pilgrimage recounted | Author Robert Ward does not have a Christian background, so naturally he wrote a book about the Virgin Mary. (Clinton News-Record, Canada)


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  • Voucher plan draws hundreds | Parents attend orientation session on aid program for D.C. students (Washington Post)

  • Chapel no longer required for U. of Mobile students | For the first time in the University of Mobile's 40-year history, undergraduates will no longer be required to attend chapel services. (Mobile Register, Alabama)

  • Of Crusaders and Jihadis | The University of the Incarnate Word, a Christian school in San Antonio, Texas, has scrapped its nickname, "Crusaders," and the accompanying mascot. (Human Events)

  • Student spirituality finds diverse paths | This type of non-religious spirituality among post-Generation X college students is the focus of a thesis project by senior American studies major Daniel Perez. According to a 2003 study of more than 3,500 college students by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA, 71 percent said they had attended religious services during the past year, but 70 percent also agreed that "most people can grow spiritually without being religious." (The California Aggie)

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Ted Olsen is Christianity Today's executive editor. He wrote the magazine's Weblog—a collection of news and opinion articles from mainstream news sources around the world—from 1999 to 2006. In 2004, the magazine launched Weblog in Print, which looks for unexpected connections and trends in articles appearing in the mainstream press. The column was later renamed "Tidings" and ran until 2007.
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