Update: Since this report was published, the Canadian government has completed its review of Crossroads' funding and is maintaining the grant. See LifeSiteNews' Feb. 12th follow-up article for details.
OTTAWA, Feb. 11, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Canada’s Conservative government has halted payments to a Christian group working to improve access to clean water in Uganda after a media report targeted the group’s commitment to Christian sexual teaching.
Crossroads Communications Inc., an evangelical organization that runs a TV station in Canada and development projects overseas, is in the midst of a $544,813 grant from the Canadian International Development Agency that was to run from 2011-2014.
But after The Canadian Press ran a report Sunday highlighting the group’s stated belief in Christian teaching that homosexuality is a “sin” and a “perversion,” Minister of International Cooperation Julian Fantino announced through Twitter that he had asked CIDA officials to “review” Crossroads’ grant “before further payments are made.”
The news has pro-family advocates up in arms. Joseph C. Ben-Ami, president of the Meighen Institute, said Crossroads’ views on homosexuality “couldn’t be less relevant” to its work in Uganda, and said Fantino is a “disaster” as a Conservative MP.
“Is the Canadian Press saying that Crossroads is refusing water to homosexual men?” he asked. “Or that Christians can't be trusted to build wells or supervise the construction of irrigation systems because they're Christian? That's certainly the implication.”
“If that's so, they should make the accusation clearly and directly and be prepared to answer for the libel in court,” he added. “There are words that can be used to describe that kind of allegation - profoundly ignorant would be the most generous and respectful.”
In its reports, The Canadian Press raises concern that the federal government is funding a so-called “anti-gay” group in Uganda while at the same time ardently opposing a proposed Ugandan law that would institute harsher punishments for same-sex relations.
But Crossroads insists they have no role in the public policy decisions of the developing countries where they work.
“It has not been a practice of Crossroads to influence matters of policy in countries in which we are completing relief or development projects,” spokeswoman Carolyn Innes told the news agency. LifeSiteNews did not hear back from Crossroads by press time.
Before its Sunday report, The Canadian Press found a page on Crossroads’ website that urges users to “repent” of sexual sins that misuse the “true purpose” of sexual intercourse. Among the perversions, the page listed “pedophilia, homosexuality and lesbianism, sadism, masochism, transvestism, and beastiality.”
The news agency says the page disappeared Tuesday after a reporter contacted Crossroads. Currently it appears to be under password protection.
On first inquiry, CIDA and Minister Fantino merely told The Canadian Press that grants are handed out “on merit.” But once the story was published Sunday night, he took to Twitter.
“We strongly oppose criminalisation of homosexuality & violence due to sexual orientation. CIDA funds projects based on merit,” he wrote. “While original content [on Crossroads’ website] is down, I have asked officials to review this organization before further payments are made.”
Before Fantino’s announcement that the grant was under review, government officials had already distanced themselves from the group’s Christian views.
Rick Roth, a spokesman for Foreign Minister John Baird, said the Harper government “does not endorse these particular views,” in an interview with The Canadian Press.
“Canada’s views are clear — we have been strongly opposed to the criminalization of homosexuality or violence against people on the basis of their sexual orientation,” he said.
LifeSiteNews.com did not hear back from the Canadian International Development Agency by press time.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Hon. Julian Fantino, Minister of International Cooperation