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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Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin

PBS defends decision to air pro-abortion documentary ‘After Tiller’

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By Dustin Siggins

Under pressure for showing the pro-abortion documentary "After Tiller" on Labor Day, PBS' "POV" affiliate has defended the decision in response to an inquiry from LifeSiteNews.

The producers of the film say their goal with the documentary, which tells the stories of four late-term abortion doctors after the killing of infamous late-term abortionist George Tiller, is to "change public perception of third-trimester abortion providers by building a movement dedicated to supporting their right to work with a special focus on maintaining their safety.” 

POV told LifeSiteNews, "We do believe that 'After Tiller' adds another dimension to an issue that is being debated widely." Asked if POV will show a pro-life documentary, the organization said that it "does not have any other films currently scheduled on this issue. POV received almost 1000 film submissions each year through our annual call for entries and we welcome the opportunity to consider films with a range of points of view."

When asked whether POV was concerned about alienating its viewership -- since PBS received millions in federal tax dollars in 2012 and half of Americans identify as pro-life -- POV said, "The filmmakers would like the film to add to the discussion around these issues. Abortion is already a legal procedure."

Click "like" if you are PRO-LIFE!

"This is an issue that people feel passionately about and will have a passionate response to. We are hopeful that the majority of people can see it for what it is, another lens on a very difficult issue." 

In addition to the documentary, POV has written materials for community leaders and teachers to share. A cursory examination of the 29-page document, which is available publicly, appears to include links to outside sources that defend Roe v. Wade, an examination of the constitutional right to privacy, and "a good explanation of the link between abortion law and the right to privacy," among other information.

Likewise, seven clips recommended for student viewing -- grades 11 and beyond -- include scenes where couples choose abortion because the children are disabled. Another shows pro-life advocates outside a doctor's child's school, and a third is described as showing "why [one of the film's doctors] chose to offer abortion services and includes descriptions of what can happen when abortion is illegal or unavailable, including stories of women who injured themselves when they tried to terminate their own pregnancies and children who were abused because they were unwanted."

Another clip "includes footage of protesters, as well as news coverage of a hearing in the Nebraska State Legislature in which abortion opponents make reference to the idea that a fetus feels pain." The clip's description fails to note that it is a scientifically proven fact that unborn children can feel pain.

The documentary is set to air on PBS at 10 p.m. Eastern on Labor Day.

Kirsten Andersen contributed to this article.

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Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete

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He defended ‘real’ marriage, and then was beheaded for it

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By Pete Baklinski

A Christian man was executed during the night by a high-profile ruler after making an uncompromising defense of real marriage.

The Christian, who was renowned for his holiness, had told the ruler in public that his relationship with his partner was “against the law” of God. The Christian’s words enraged the ruler’s partner who successfully plotted to have him permanently silenced.

John the Baptist was first imprisoned before he was beheaded. The Catholic Church honors him today, August 29, as a martyr and saint.

While John’s death happened a little less than 2,000 years ago, his heroic stance for real marriage is more pertinent today than ever before.

According to the Gospel of Mark, the ruler Herod had ‘married’ his brother’s wife Herodias. When John told Herod with complete frankness, “It is against the law for you to have your brother’s wife,” Herodias became “furious” with him to the point of wanting him killed for his intolerance, bullying, and hate-speech.

Herodias found her opportunity to silence John by having her daughter please Herod during a dance at a party. Herod offered the girl anything she wanted. The daughter turned to her mother for advice, and Herodias said to ask for John’s head on a platter.

Those who fight for real marriage today can learn three important lessons from John’s example.

  1. Those proudly living in ungodly and unnatural relationships — often referred to in today’s sociopolitical sphere as ‘marriage’ — will despise those who tell them what they are doing is wrong. Real marriage defenders must expect opposition to their message from the highest levels.
  2. Despite facing opposition, John was not afraid to defend God’s plan for marriage in the public square, even holding a secular ruler accountable to this plan. John, following the third book of the Hebrew Bible (Leviticus 20:21), held that a man marrying the wife of his brother was an act of “impurity” and therefore abhorrent to God. Real marriage defenders must boldly proclaim today that God is the author of marriage, an institution he created to be a life-long union between one man and one woman from which children arise and in which they are best nurtured. Marriage can be nothing more, nothing less.
  3. John did not compromise on the truth of marriage as revealed by God, even to the point of suffering imprisonment and death for his unpopular position. Real marriage defenders must never compromise on the truth of marriage, even if the government, corporate North America, and the entire secular education system says otherwise. They must learn to recognize the new “Herodias” of today who despises those raising a voice against her lifestyle. They must stand their ground no matter what may come, no matter what the cost.

John the Baptist was not intolerant or a bigot, he simply lived the word of God without compromise, speaking the word of truth when it was needed, knowing that God’s way is always the best way. Were John alive today, he would be at the forefront of the grassroots movement opposing the social and political agenda to remake marriage in the image of man.

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

If he were alive today he might speak simple but eloquent words such as, “It is against God’s law for two men or two women to be together as a husband and wife in marriage. Marriage can only be between a man and a woman.” 

He would most likely be hated. He would be ridiculed. He would surely have the human rights tribunals throwing the book at him. But he would be speaking the truth and have God as his ally. 

The time may not be far off when those who defend real marriage, like John, will be presented with the choice of following Caesar or making the ultimate sacrifice. May God grant his faithful the grace to persevere in whatever might come. St. John the Baptist, pray for us!

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The Wunderlich family Mike Donnelly / Home School Legal Defence Association
Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus

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German homeschoolers regain custody of children, vow to stay and fight for freedom

Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus
By Thaddeus Baklinski

One year to the day since a team of 20 social workers, police officers, and special agents stormed a homeschooling family’s residence near Darmstadt, Germany, and forcibly removed all four of the family’s children, aged 7 to 14, a state appeals court has returned custody of the children to their parents.

The reason given for the removal was that parents Dirk and Petra Wunderlich continued to homeschool their children in defiance of a German ban on home education.

The children were returned three weeks after being taken, following an international outcry spearheaded by the Home School Legal Defense Association.

However, a lower court imposed the condition on the parents that their children were required to attend state schools in order for them to be released, and took legal custody of the children in order to prevent the family from leaving the country.

In a decision that was still highly critical of the parents and of homeschooling, the appeals court decided that the action of the lower court in putting the children in the custody of the state was “disproportional” and ordered complete custody returned to the parents, according to a statement by the HSLDA.

The Wunderlichs, who began homeschooling again when the court signaled it would rule this way, said they were very pleased with the result, but noted that the court’s harsh words about homeschooling indicated that their battle was far from over.

“We have won custody and we are glad about that,” Dirk said.

“The court said that taking our children away was not proportionate—only because the authorities should apply very high fines and criminal prosecution instead. But this decision upholds the absurd idea that homeschooling is child endangerment and an abuse of parental authority.”

The Wunderlichs are now free to emigrate to another country where homeschooling is legal, if they choose, but they said they intend to remain in Germany and work for educational freedom.

“While we no longer fear that our children will be taken away as long as we are living in Hessen, it can still happen to other people in Germany,” Dirk said. “Now we fear crushing fines up to $75,000 and jail. This should not be tolerated in a civilized country.”

Petra Wunderlich said, "We could not do this without the help of HSLDA,” but cautioned that, “No family can fight the powerful German state—it is too much, too expensive."

"If it were not for HSLDA and their support, I am afraid our children would still be in state custody. We are so grateful and thank all homeschoolers who have helped us by helping HSLDA.”

HSLDA’s Director for Global Outreach, Michael Donnelly, said he welcomed the ruling but was concerned about the court’s troubling language.

“We welcome this ruling that overturns what was an outrageous abuse of judicial power,” he said.

“The lower court decision to take away legal custody of the children essentially imprisoned the Wunderlich family in Germany. But this decision does not go far enough. The court has only grudgingly given back custody and has further signaled to local authorities that they should still go after the Wunderlichs with criminal charges or fines.”

Donnelly pointed out that such behavior in a democratic country is problematic.

“Imprisonment and fines for homeschooling are outside the bounds of what free societies that respect fundamental human rights should tolerate,” he explained.

“Freedom and fundamental human rights norms demand respect for parental decision making in education. Germany’s state and national policies that permit banning home education must be changed.

"Such policies from a leading European democracy not only threaten the rights of tens of thousands of German families but establish a dangerous example that other countries may be tempted to follow,” Donnelly warned.

HSLDA Chairman Michael Farris said that acting on behalf of the Wunderlichs was an important stand for freedom.

“The Wunderlichs are a good and decent family whose basic human rights were violated and are still threatened,” Farris said.

“Their fight is our fight," Farris stressed, "and we will continue to support those who stand against German policy banning homeschooling that violates international legal norms. Free people cannot tolerate such oppression and we will do whatever we can to fight for families like the Wunderlichs both here in the United States and abroad. We must stand up to this kind of persecution where it occurs or we risk seeing own freedom weakened.”

Visit the HSLDA website dedicated to helping the Wunderlich family and other German homeschoolers here.

Contact the German embassy in the U.S. here.

Contact the German embassy in Canada here.

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