This Week in Religion 2018-02-22

By Scott Douglas Jacobsen

“Donned in a traditional Indian dress and head wrapped in orange cloth, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited the holiest site of the Sikh faith in Amritsar, India, on Wednesday.

Not only is the Golden Temple the holiest religious site for Sikhs, experts say it is also an important shrine for Canadian prime ministers to pay their respects to.

In fact, experts say it could be more important than visiting New Delhi, India’s capital.

“The Golden Temple is Sikh’s equivalent to the Vatican for Catholics,” Japinder Singh Grewal, the director with Sikhs for Justice, said. “This is where our highest leader of religion is located.””


“In December 2017, Canada’s Liberal Party government, headed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, barred organizations that oppose abortion from receiving funds from the Summer Jobs Canada program. This program subsidizes wages for small businesses, public entities, and nonprofits (including churches and faith-based groups) that provide “quality” summer jobs for young people who are full-time students.

Starting this year, according to a statement, applicants for funding from Summer Jobs Canada must box-check an “attestation” that “both the job and the organization’s core mandate” support “women’s reproductive rights.” The agency also makes it crystal-clear that those rights include “the right to access safe and legal abortions.” Applicants that decline to check the box will not be considered for funding.

The new rule has generated outrage—and not just among pro-life groups and the traditionalist Christian churches that have depended on the jobs program to help them staff their summer camps. On January 16, a group of clergymen and others representing a wide range of faiths—Muslims, Sikhs, Jews, and Hindus, along with Christians—met in Mississauga, Ontario, to express alarm over the new Trudeau policy. Some of the religious groups staunchly oppose abortion; others don’t have a clear position on abortion but don’t want to be forced to take a stand on this contentious issue. The issues discussed at the meeting were obvious: religious freedom, and what would be defined as “viewpoint discrimination” under U.S. First Amendment law—the government’s treating some political expressions as less worthy than others.”


“A sea change in the religious landscape of Canada is underway. Led by millennials, Canada is increasingly moving towards a secular culture. “Spiritual but not religious” has become our new normal.

A 2015 Angus Reid poll found 39 per cent of Canadians identify as “spiritual but not religious.” Another 27 per cent identify as “neither religious nor spiritual;” 24 per cent as “religious and spiritual;” and 10 per cent as “religious but not spiritual.”

What sparked this dramatic change in beliefs and self-identification? And what does it mean for the future of Canadian society?”


“When the success of your government grant application depends on agreeing with a government opinion, then there is bound to be a fuss. Canada is a democracy and Liberal democrats, by definition, do not take government-imposed opinions lightly.

The Canada Summer Jobs is a government program that funds non-profits, small businesses and charities to hire summer students. It is designed to give young people quality work experience to enhance their careers. This year, the government required organizations to declare their agreement with the government regarding abortion.

It has been alleged that “[r]eligious organizations and editorial writers have sown confusion about [this] new eligibility criteria . . .” The confusion (and there has been plenty) is not from religious organizations and editorial writers but from the government itself.”


“The American evangelist Billy Graham, one of the most important religious figures of the past century, has died aged 99.

In a career spanning more than 60 years, he is believed to have preached to tens of millions of people in what he called his “crusades”.

Here are some of the key things he believed and stood for throughout his life.

He was an early crusader for civil rights

At a time of racial segregation in the US, Graham said he would not speak before segregated audiences in the 1950s, and often spoke of the need for inclusion.

At one event in Tennessee in 1953, he moved ropes that divided black and white members of his audience.”


OTTAWA – Legal action is not off the table for charities and groups that have asked the government for accommodation of their Charter rights in the Canada Summer Jobs controversy.

“If the government is not going to accommodate, we will be looking at what all of our options are,” said Barry Bussey, director of legal affairs for the Canadian Council of Christian Charities (CCCC). “That may include legal action, but we’re kind of in a wait-and-see on how government is going to respond.”

“We have lots of street ministries, summer camps and programs various churches put on and they simply want to do ministry,” he said. “This is an unnecessary controversy, an unnecessary thing.””


“MONTREAL, Quebec – Last fall, the Canadian province of Quebec passed legislation, Bill 62, that would make it illegal for anyone to receive public services if they did not show their face. Dubbed as a “religious neutrality” law, critics claimed the bill discriminated against Muslims who wear headscarves as a part of their religious practice – and should be cause for concern for all people of faith.

In recent months another controversy has brewed over Canada’s summer jobs program – a popular funding initiative for businesses and organizations to hire students during summer break – when the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that in order to receive funding, you must attest to supporting abortion rights in Canada. Last month, a group of Jewish, Catholic, and Muslim leaders joined together in protest of the decision and called on the government to reverse its policy.

In an interview with Crux, Archbishop Christian Lépine of Montreal said he feared both the example of Bill 62 and the Canadian Summer Jobs program are moving the country in the direction of relegating people of faith to “second-class citizens.””


Scott Douglas Jacobsen founded In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal.

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