Patrick Craine

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Canadian professors’ union ‘bullying’ Christian universities, says petition

Patrick Craine
Patrick Craine
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ANCASTER, Ontario, February 9, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - As a growing body of Canadian professors call on the nation’s leading university teachers’ federation to stop “bullying” the country’s Christian universities, the federation is investigating a fourth institution over alleged violations of academic freedom.

In the last year and a half, the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) has issued reports against three Christian universities - Trinity Western University (TWU) in British Columbia, Crandall University in New Brunswick, and Canadian Mennonite University in Manitoba - alleging that they are violating academic freedom by requiring professors to sign a statement of faith as a condition of employment.  The three have been placed on a “blacklist,” in the words of TWU’s president, on CAUT’s website.

The organization is now investigating Ontario’s Redeemer University-College (RUC), which also requires a statement of faith.

“It’s not an open-ended inquiry into the truth because it begins with a definition that is self-fulfilling,” RUC president Dr. Hubert Krygsman told the National Post.  “It’s a definition of academic freedom that says it cannot be faith-based. So by definition any faith-based approach strikes them as contrary to their definition. ... All of the other findings are really fodder for their own beliefs.”

In a statement Wednesday, Dr. Krygsman said they will not participate in the investigation, because the findings are a “foregone conclusion.”

At least 140 professors from secular and religious institutions have signed a petition launched two weeks ago calling on CAUT to end the “harassment” of Christian universities.  The petition calls CAUT’s investigations “invasive and unwarranted,” saying they are “inconsistent” with religious freedom.

“The very concept of academic freedom arose historically in religiously founded institutions,” the petitioners point out.  “The missional specificity of religious institutions is not without analogue in public institutions, which may contain within them institutes or research centres with their own acknowledged pre-commitments.”

Critics have pointed out that none of the professors at the targeted institutions have made complaints about academic freedom.

The CAUT issued the first report on Trinity Western University in October 2009, followed by one on Crandall University in July 2010, and another on Canadian Mennonite University in October 2010.  In each case, the report purported to establish that the institution required a statement of faith - even though that information was publicly available on the institutions’ websites.

After the report on TWU, university president Jonathan Raymond questioned CAUT’s process, saying the organization had failed to even discuss the matter with them.  “With us there was no discussion, no exchange,” he said. 

“An institution that includes or excludes teachers on basis of a faith test is antithetical to what a university is supposed to be,” CAUT executive director James Turk told the National Post.  “We’d be just as concerned if a secular university made its teachers sign an ideological statement.”

“This is not an attack on religious institutions,” continued Turk, who was unavailable for comment. “The majority of religious schools do not have a faith test for employment.”

“A university is meant as a place to explore ideas, not to create disciples of Christ,” he added.

Dr. Guenther Haas, a professor of religion and theology at Redeemer University-College, told LifeSiteNews that CAUT’s “campaign” is “simply a reflection of CAUT’s bias against Christian universities. It is their attempt to portray these universities in a bad light in the academic world of Canada.”

“There is no assumption-free knowledge,” Dr. Haas said, arguing that academic study is always directed by a specific framework, whether it’s Christian or a post-Enlightenment secularism.  He said public universities have their own “implicit” assumptions that guide their hiring and research.  “In practice, if not in principle, many would not have the same view of hiring a psychologist who was an evolutionary materialist as opposed to one who held to a view of humans consistent with traditional Christian theology,” he explained.

In fact, the CAUT has supported ideological hiring requirements in the past.  In 1999, their bulletin ran an ad for a University of Toronto tenure-track professorship that specified it was restricted to candidates with a “feminist and anti-racist perspective.”

U of T professor Thomas Pangle said such requirements are “implicit” at U of T.  The ad “makes explicit what I had thought was usually only implicit, namely, that ideological conformity was the chief prerequisite for such a position at our university,” he told the National Post at the time.

Dr. Syd Hielema, an associate professor of religion at Redeemer University-College, told LifeSiteNews that a statement of faith “is an absolute necessity for a Christian university.”

“A statement of faith that has profound meaning for the central identity of a university and is put into practice in dozens of systemic ways is vital for Christian universities to be true to their roots and identity,” he explained.

Since RUC’s founding 28 years ago, said Dr. Krygsman in his statement Wednesday, “we have not had a single instance of a faculty member alleging that their academic freedom has been infringed in any way.”

“By acknowledging that all truth is rooted in God, and by encouraging an exploration of all aspects of His creation, we believe that our faith basis promotes the pursuit of knowledge and understanding,” he said.

LifeSiteNews did not hear back from Dr. Krygsman by press time.


Find more information on the petition here.

To respectfully voice concerns, contact:

Canadian Association of University Teachers
2705 Queensview Drive
Ottawa Ontario K2B 8K2
Phone: (613) 820-2270
Fax: (613) 820-7244
Email: acppu@caut.ca


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Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus

African researchers warn early sexual activity increases risk of cancers

Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus
By Thaddeus Baklinski

A report on rising cancer rates in Africa delivered at a conference in Namibia last week warned that oral contraceptives and engaging in sexual activity from a young age lead to an increased risk of breast and reproductive system cancers.

Researchers presented the "2014 Integrated Africa Cancer Fact Sheet & Summary Score Card" during the 8th Stop Cervical, Breast and Prostate Cancer in Africa (SCCA) conference, held in Windhoek, Namibia from July 20 to 22, noted that cancer is a growing health problem in many developing countries and that breast and cervical cancer are the most common forms affecting African women.

The report said that sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) play a major role in reproductive system cancers and that young girls who engage in sexual activity risk getting, among other STDs, the human papilloma virus (HPV), some strains of which are linked to cervical cancer.

The report said although HPV infections are common in healthy women, they are usually fought off by the body’s immune system, with no discernible symptoms or health consequences.

The Cancer Association of South Africa points out that of the scores of HPV types, 14 of the more than 40 sexually transmitted varieties are considered "high risk" for causing serious illness, while two, HPV-16 and HPV-18, are linked to cervical cancer.

“Long-term use of oral contraceptives is also associated with increased risk [of cancer], and women living with HIV-AIDS are at increased risk of cervical cancer,” the report said.

Dr. Thandeka Mazibuko, a South African oncologist, told the conference attendees that when an 18-year-old is diagnosed with cervical cancer, “this means sex is an important activity in her life and she indulged from a young age.”

Mazibuko said the standard treatment for cancer of the cervix is seven weeks of radiation therapy.

“After the treatment they cannot have sex with their husbands or partners. They cannot bear children because everything has been closed up. Some may still have the womb but radiation makes them infertile,” Mazibuko said, according to a report in The Namibian.

Statistics from the Cancer Association of Namibia show that cases of cervical cancer have risen from 129 in 2005 to 266 in 2012.

The SCCA Conference theme was, "Moving forward to end Cervical Cancer by 2030: Universal Access to Cervical Cancer Prevention."

In his keynote address, host and Namibian President Hifikepunye Lucas Pohamba urged African countries to help each other to expand and modernize health care delivery in the continent.

"Within the context of the post-2015 Development Agenda and sustainable development goals, the provision of adequate health care to African women and children must be re-emphasized," said the president, according to AllAfrica.

The Namibian leader urged mothers to breastfeed their children for at least six months as a measure to prevent breast cancer.


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Hilary White Hilary White Follow Hilary

Allow ‘lethal injection’ for poor to save on palliative care: Lithuanian health minister

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By Hilary White

Euthanasia is a solution for terminally ill poor people who cannot afford palliative care and who do not want to “see their families agonize” over their suffering, Lithuania’s health minister said last week.

In an interview on national television, Minister Rimantė Šalaševičiūtė added that the Belgian law on child euthanasia ought to be “taken into account” as well. 

Šalaševičiūtė told TV3 News that Lithuania, a country whose population is 77 percent Catholic, is not a welfare state and cannot guarantee quality palliative care for all those in need of it. The solution, therefore, would be “lethal injection.”

“It is time to think through euthanasia in these patients and allow them to make a decision: to live or die,” she said.

Direct euthanasia remains illegal in the Balkan state, but activists tried to bring it to the table in 2012. A motion to drop the planned bill was passed in the Parliament in March that year in a vote of 75 to 14. Since then the country has undergone a change in government in which the far-left Social Democrats have formed the largest voting bloc.

Šalaševičiūtė is a member of Parliament for the Social Democrats, the party originally established in the late 19th century – re-formed in the late 1980s – from Marxist principles and now affiliated with the international Party of European Socialists and Socialist International.

Fr. Andrius Narbekovas, a prominent priest, lecturer, physician, bioethicist, and member of the government’s bioethics committee, called the suggestion “satanic,” according to Delfi.lt. He issued a statement saying it is the purpose of the Ministry of Health to “protect the health and life, instead of looking for ways to take away life.”

“We understand that people who are sick are in need of funds. But a society that declares itself democratic, should very clearly understand that we have to take care of the sick, not kill them,” he said.


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Islamists in Mosul mark Christian homes with an Arabic "N" for Nazarene.
Gualberto Garcia Jones, J.D.

We must open wide our doors to Iraq’s Christians

Gualberto Garcia Jones, J.D.
By Gualberto Garcia Jones J.D.

On July 18, the largest Christian community in Iraq, the Chaldean Catholics of Mosul, were given a grotesque ultimatum: leave your ancestral home, convert to Islam, or die.

All but forgotten by the 1.2 billion Catholics of the world, these last Christians who still speak Jesus’ native tongue of Aramaic and live in the land of Abraham and Jonah are being wiped out before our very eyes.

As a way of issuing a thinly-veiled threat, reminiscent of the Nazi persecution of the Jews, the Arabic letter “N” (for Nazarean) has been painted on the outside of the homes of all known Christians in Mosul.

These threats, issued by the fanatical Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) known for its bloodthirsty rampage of executions, have been taken very seriously by the several hundred thousand Christians in Mosul who have left with little more than the clothes they were wearing. 

At least most of these Christians were able to flee and find temporary protection among the Kurds in their semi-autonomous region.  However the Kurds do not have the resources to defend or shelter the Chaldean Christians for much longer.

On Monday, during an interview on Fox News, Republican U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, who recently joined with 54 other members of the House of Representatives in a letter to President Obama asking him to act to protect these communities, stated that while Iraqi President Maliki had sent military flights to Mosul to evacuate Shiite Muslims, the US has done nothing to protect the Chaldean Christians.  Rep. Wolf also stated emphatically that President Obama has done “almost nothing” about the genocide taking place.

The silence from the White House is deafening.  But the lack of leadership from the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in America has been shocking as well.

Nevertheless, the plight of these Iraqi Christians is beginning to be taken seriously.   This is due in large part to the heroic efforts of local Iraqi religious leaders like Chaldean Patriarch Sako, who has gone on a whirlwind tour of the world to alert us all of the plight of these Iraqi Christians.  In a statement demonstrating his character, he told the Christians of Iraq last week, “We are your shepherds, and with our full responsibility towards you we will stay with you to the end, will not leave you, whatever the sacrifices.”

Before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was launched there were approximately 1.5 to 2 million Christians living in Iraq.  Today, there are believed to be less than 200,000.  The numbers speak for themselves.

Now that the world is beginning to be aware of the genocide in Northern Iraq, many of us ask ourselves: what can we do?  As citizens and as Christians blessed to live in nations with relative peace and security, what can we do?

The answer is quite simple and unexpected.  Demand that our government and church pull its head out of the sand and follow France. Yes, France.  

Yesterday, in a heroic gesture of Christian solidarity that would make Joan of Arc proud, the government of France opened wide its doors to the persecuted Iraqi Christians.  

”France is outraged by these abuses that it condemns with the utmost firmness," Laurent Fabius, France's foreign minister, and Bernard Cazeneuve, France's interior minister, said in a joint statement on Monday.

"The ultimatum given to these communities in Mosul by ISIS is the latest tragic example of the terrible threat that jihadist groups in Iraq, but also in Syria and elsewhere, pose to these populations that are historically an integral part of this region," they added. "We are ready, if they wish, to facilitate their asylum on our soil.  We are in constant contact with local and national authorities to ensure everything is done to protect them.”

The French statement drives home three crucial elements that every government, especially the United States, should communicate immediately:

  1. Recognize the genocide and name the perpetrators and victims.

  2. Officially condemn what is happening in the strongest terms.

  3. Offer a solution that includes cooperation with local authorities but which leads by making solid commitments such as offering asylum or other forms of protection.

With regard to the Church, we should look to the Chaldean Patriarch and the Iraqi bishops who shared their expectations explicitly in an open letter to “all people of conscience in Iraq and around the world” to take “practical actions to assure our people, not merely expressions of condemnation.”  Noticeably, the last section of the letter from the Iraqi bishops, before a final prayer to God, is an expression of thanks to the Kurdish government, which has welcomed them not just with “expressions” of goodwill but, like France, with a sacrificial hospitality.

On Friday, July 25, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops did issue a statement, but unfortunately it lacked much in terms of leadership or solutions.  We should encourage our bishops to do better than that, be bolder and stronger for our persecuted brothers and sisters, name names and offer concrete sacrificial aid. In a word, be more like the French.

In 1553, Rome welcomed the Chaldean church into the fold of the Catholic Church.  Nearly 500 years later, Catholic Americans must find ways to welcome these persecuted people into our country, into our churches, and into our own homes if need be.

I say, I am with you St. Joan of Arc.   I am with you, France.  I am with you, Chaldeans!

Gualberto Garcia Jones is the Executive Director of the International Human Rights Group, a non-profit organization based in Washington, DC, that seeks to advance the fundamental rights to life, the natural family, and religious liberty through international law and international relations. 


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