TEL AVIV, January 24, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Canada's mainstream media have raised a hue and cry after Prime Minister Stephen Harper invited a well-known Christian pastor, who has boldly proclaimed Biblical imperatives against homosexuality, to be part of the large delegation accompanying him on his trip to Israel.
Pastor Shawn Ketcheson of Trinity Bible Church of Ottawa was asked to be part of the 208-person Canadian delegation, made up of representatives from business organizations, religious groups, and civil society organizations, as well as the 31-person official delegation composed of the PM and his wife, and politicians, senators, advisers, and staff.
With a broad spectrum of individuals representing diverse interests taking part in the visit, Harper's spokesman Jason MacDonald explained, “In a delegation of this size you will always find different views, including views you do not agree with.”
“Members of the delegation do not speak for the Government of Canada,” MacDonald told the CBC.
However, both the CBC and the Globe and Mail have focused some of their coverage of the trip on the fact that a Christian pastor in the entourage has publicly proclaimed Christian beliefs on sexuality.
The CBC takes issue with Ketcheson's moral position critical of sexual issues “ranging from masturbation to sex outside of marriage to gay sex,” quoting him from a recorded sermon where he said, “God says one partner, one sex partner for life. That's basically what the word of God says.”
“Lesbianism, women lying with other women – Scripture says it's wrong,” he continued. “By the way, if you talk about the word of God as being right and you condemn this, then you're a hate-monger and you should be punished. That's how far we've gone to twisting the word of God.”
On the Trinity Bible Church of Ottawa's website Ketcheson states that he “will not water down the truth about Jesus and the life He brings.”
The Globe and Mail reported that Ketcheson opposed the Ontario government's anti-bullying legislation, which promoted acceptance of homosexual activity, and the Ontario Education Ministry's controversial graphically explicit sex education curriculum.
“For people who hold traditional Christian values, these are truly challenging times, particularly if you have children in the public school system,” Ketcheson wrote in a pastoral letter dated May 25, 2011. “That which the Bible teaches is wrong our public school system now teaches is right. What is a parent or grandparent to do?”
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The newspaper also reported that Ketcheson warned that the natural consequences of sexual immorality are apparent in the world around us.
In an October 2011 sermon titled “And Now for the Bad News,” Ketcheson said, “The first way the wrath of God is revealed to humanity is as a consequence of sexual impurity, sexual perversion.”
On his website, Ketcheson said that he initially chose to decline the invitation to join the state visit to the Holy Land, thinking that he had “little of value to offer,” but his wife Sue persuaded him to go. She “reminded me [of] my calling and that it is never an option to say no to God,” Ketcheson said.
Both the CBC and the Globe and Mail also reported that Don Simmonds, chairman of Crossroads Christian Communications, and Rabbi Reuven Bulka, spiritual leader of Congregation Machzikei Hadas in Ottawa and past member of the Scientific Advisory Committee for the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) are on the trip with Harper. The mainstream media outlets described the men as “controversial” members of the Canadian delegation.
According to the prime minister's office, Canadian taxpayers are footing the entire bill for the official delegation's trip to Israel, but the accompanying party members are paying their own travel expenses.
The Official Delegation and Accompanying Party roster is available here.
On the website set up to cover his visit to Israel, Harper said “I look forward to visiting the Middle East to explore ways of strengthening peace and security, stimulating sustainable economic growth, and promoting essential Canadian values, such as tolerance and human rights, across the region.”