Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Canadian Border Services Agency Declares Pro-family Letter is "Hate Propaganda"

The other day I received a most interesting letter in the mail from one of our supporters. Friends of theirs support an organization in the United States called Vision Forum Ministries. They had given a donation and were receiving a couple of dolls as a "thank you" in the mail. When the organization shipped the dolls, together with a letter from their director, it was held up at the border. Why, you may ask. Is it because they wanted to charge duty on the dolls or that was something there something illegal about the order? Not at all. The problem had to do with the letter. According to a form sent to the couple from the Canadian Border Services Agency, the goods were detained because the agency determined that the letter from the Vision Forum director may constitute "hate propaganda."

So, I read the two-page letter. To be honest, it was very pro-American but that is not a crime. Mostly it spoke about how the Christian family is under attack and the need to build up the family. It referred to homosexuality as one of the things that is replacing the historical Christian understanding of the family, together with male passivity and historical revisionism. And it did talk about the need for a "vigorous opposition to the homosexual agenda."

That, I suspect, was the problem. And when some overzealous border inspector saw the two references to homosexuality, he or she jumped on it.

It was certainly an over-reaction, though. Quite frankly, I have written far stronger stuff publicly than this letter. In fact, so has Bruce Clemenger at the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada and a good number of others. Try as I might, I could find nothing in the letter that could possibly be construed as "hate propaganda" under the present laws. No identifiable individual, group is being vilified. This letter was primarily a strong call for Christian families to defend and serve a biblical view of the family, providing several (mostly educational) examples and a "thank you" for the donation. It is beyond me how this letter could have possibly been considered a propagating hatred towards anyone as no one is really mentioned. What the director is concerned about are anti-family ideas and he wisely stays in the realm of opposing ideas rather than people.

I am left to conclude that to consider this letter as possibly hate propaganda was an act of misplaced zealousness and a misunderstanding of the present laws (as flawed as they are). If this letter is hate propaganda, then almost anything could be so construed.

I am convinced that we will see more of this in the days to come, however. For years now, I have warned our staff here at VOMC that I can see the day coming when some of our printed and video material will be labeled "hate propaganda" by the government. In truth, our message has actually moderated in tone in recent years. But we will continue speak the truth about the persecution being faced by Christians around the world at the hands of those who hate and oppose the message of Jesus Christ, whether that is militant Muslims or Hindus, communists, homosexual activists, or secularists. We don't deliberately distribute or produce material geared to provoke a hostile response. That would be foolish and wrong. But if this harmless letter could be construed as "hate propagation", there is little doubt that some of our material might be viewed similarly.

When I mentioned this to Adele last week, she asked me, "So what should we do to prepare for this?" I replied, "Nothing. We will continue to do what we have been doing for almost four decades. If we are going to be damned, we will be damned for who we are."

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