Peter Baklinski

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New Office of Religious Freedom praised by Canadian faithful

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VAUGHAN, Ontario, February 22, 2013, (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Conservative government fulfilled an election promise on Tuesday and established the Office of Religious Freedom dedicated to promoting freedom of religion around the world.

“This is not an office to promote a particular religion. This is an office to promote religious diversity and religious tolerance around the world,” said Prime Minister Steven Harper at the inauguration ceremony which took place at the Ahmadiyya Muslim community centre and mosque in Maple, Ontario.

Dr. Andrew Bennett, the first ambassador of the newly created office, told reporters after the event that his office’s mandate is to “promote religious freedom, freedom of conscious, freedom of belief, around the world.” He said that promoting religious freedom is “part of Canada’s principal foreign policy” and part of the “values that Canadians believe strongly in: freedom, democracy, rule of law, and human rights.”

Bennett, in his early forties, is Catholic and the dean of Augustine College, a small, non-denominational college in Ottawa. He has a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Edinburgh and an M.A. in History from McGill University. He is working part-time towards a degree in theology (Eastern Christian Studies) at the Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute for Eastern Christian Studies, Saint Paul University. Dr. Bennett was ordained as a subdeacon in the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church in 2011.

John Patrick, president of Augustine College said that the people who chose Bennett “did their homework. He won't let them down.”

Bennett said that the new office has both a national and international dimension that included “building awareness about the issue of religious freedom abroad” and “interacting with the various communities here in Canada who are in the diaspora from these areas where religious freedom is not respected”.

“We live in a pluralistic society here in Canada where all religions are respected, and that certainly is going to be the goal of this office. This is not about a theological question; it’s about a human question. It’s a human issue, not a theological issue. So, all religions, all people of faith, and again those who choose not to have faith, need to be protected, their rights need to be respected. And so, that’s what this office is about,” he said.

Doug McKenzie, CEO of Voice of the Martyrs Canada, told LifeSiteNews.com that he is “very pleased” with the opening of the new office. Voice of the Martyrs is a Canadian non-profit charitable organization that helps persecuted Christians worldwide.

McKenzie said that his organization is “supportive of the efforts of the Canadian government to promote religious freedom”.

“We congratulate Prime Minister Steven Harper and Dr. Andrew Bennett in this appointment,” he said.

Don Hutchinson, of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, one of the six panelists consulted by the government during the planning stage of the office, praised the selection, as well.

“Ambassador Bennett has the heart and the smarts for this responsibility. He will do well,” he said.

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Hutchinson pointed out on a blog that Bennett’s personal faith, his service as dean and professor of church history at Augustine College, and his prior experience working for government “situates him as a human being who understands religious belief, a key component of historic persecution and how to manage the development of a fledgling office with responsibility to both political and bureaucratic masters”.

Hutchinson hoped that the office will establish a multifaith advisory council to represent the diversity of Canadian faith communities.

“The largest faith community in Canada, and the planet, is Christian – including the distinct traditions of Roman Catholic, Orthodox (including Greek, Coptic and Eastern rite, etc.), Traditional, and Evangelical,” he said.

Hutchinson pointed out that “Christians are also well documented to be the most persecuted on Earth”.

The concept of religious freedom has been rigorously defended by the Catholic Church. The fathers of the Second Vatican Council declared in 1965 that the “human person has a right to religious freedom”.

“This freedom means that all men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power, in such wise that no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits,” the council fathers stated at that time.

Pope John Paul II has been credited with dismantling the Communist project in history through his fierce and enthusiastic promotion of religious freedom on a worldwide scale.

In his 1979 inaugural papal encyclical Redemptor Hominis, Pope John Paul II, who grew up in Poland under the iron grip of communism, wrote that the “curtailment of the religious freedom of individuals and communities is not only a painful experience but it is above all an attack on man's very dignity, independently of the religion professed or of the concept of the world which these individuals and communities have”.



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Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon

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Please, enough with the cult of pop stars. Our kids need real heroes.

Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon

April 29, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Two things happen each time a significant pop culture figure dies: Christians attempt to dredge up some moderately conservative or traditional thing that figure said at some point during his long career, and mainstream media attempts to convince a society thoroughly bored with such things that the person in question was a ground-breaking radical. The two most recent examples are the androgynous David Bowie—a cringe-worthy and possibly blasphemous video of him dropping to his knees during a rock performance and uttering the Lord’s Prayer circulated just following his death--and the pop star Prince.

I’ve had to suppress my gag reflexes many times as I saw my Facebook newsfeed fill up with memes sporting quotes from Prince about his faith and articles announcing that the musician who “embraced gender fluidity before his time,” according to Slate and “will always be a gay icon” according to The Atlantic, was against gay marriage. Sure, maybe he was. But only a Christian community so shell-shocked by the rapid spread of the rainbow blitzkrieg and the catastrophic erosion of religious liberty would find this remarkable. After all, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton said the same thing barely one election cycle ago. As one obituary celebrating Prince’s paradigm-smashing sexual performances written by Dodai Stewart put it:

Dig, if you will, a picture: The year is 1980. Many states still have sodomy laws. The radio is playing feel-good ear candy like Captain and Tennille and KC and the Sunshine Band. TV hits include the sunny, toothy blond shows Three’s Company and Happy Days. There’s no real word for “gender non-conforming.” But here’s what you see: A man. Clearly a man. Hairy, mostly naked body…a satiny bikini bottom. But those eyes. Rimmed in black, like a fantasy belly dancer. The full, pouty lips of a pin-up girl. Long hair. A tiny, svelte thing. Ethnically ambiguous, radiating lust. What is this? A man. Clearly a man. No. Not just a man. A Prince.

Right. So let’s not get too carried away, shall we? I know Christians are desperate to justify their addictions to the pop culture trash that did so much to sweep away Christian values in the first place and I know that latching on to the occasional stray conservative belief that may manifest itself in pop culture figures makes many feel as if perhaps we are not so weird and countercultural, but this bad habit we have of claiming these figures upon their passing is downright damaging.

After all, parents should be teaching their children about real heroes, titans of the faith who changed the world. Heroes of the early church who stood down tyrants, halted gladiatorial combat, and crusaded against injustice in a world where death was all the rage. These men and women were real rebels who stood for real values. If we want to point our children to people they should emulate, we should be handing them books like Seven Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness by the brilliant writer Eric Metaxas rather than the pop albums Purple Rain or Lovesexy by Prince. If parents spend their time glorifying the predecessors of Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus instead of highlighting heroes like William Wilberforce, they can hardly be surprised when their children choose to emulate the former rather than the latter.

The mainstream media’s adulation of these pop stars is equally irritating. The unspoken truth of these obituaries is that the flamboyant antics of Prince and the rest of the so-called rebellious drag queens populating the rock n’ roll scene have been mainstream for a long time already. Want to see dozens of bizarre body piercings? Weird hairdos? Purple mohawks? Dudes with nail polish? Strange tattoos? Easy. Just go onto any university campus, or any public high school without a dress code. With headphones wedged firmly in their ear canals, they can pump the cleverly commercialized “counterculture” straight into their skulls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

More than that, some of these courageous rebels have actually sued their employers to ensure that they can let their establishment-smashing freak flag fly at work, too. An Edmonton woman with 22 visible body piercings complained that her employer was unfair because apparently she was being discriminated against “based on body modifications.” Yeah! The Man must be told, after all. And if he doesn’t agree, we will lawyer up. I wonder what the shrieking rebels of the early days would think about the snivelling children of the current grievance culture.

So these days, the media’s eulogizing about aging culture warriors who went mainstream a long time ago rings a bit hollow. After all, most rock n’ roll stars these days look tame compared to what shows up in the children’s section at Pride Week. Freaky is normal now. Normal is radical. Welcome to 2016.

When Christians are posting nostalgic tributes to the rebels who helped inoculate their children against the radical views of Christianity in the first place, you know that the victories of the counterculture are complete and Stockholm syndrome has set in.



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Target boycott climbs to over 1 million

Claire Chretien Claire Chretien

April 29, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Over 1 million people have signed a pledge to boycott Target over its new policy allowing men to access women’s bathrooms. 

The American Family Association’s Boycott Target petition gained traction immediately, reaching the one million mark in only nine days.

“Corporate America must stop bullying people who disagree with the radical left agenda to remake society into their progressive image,” said AFA President Tim Wildmon. “#BoycottTarget has resonated with Americans.  Target’s harmful policy poses a danger to women and children; nearly everyone has a mother, wife, daughter or friend who is put in jeopardy by this policy.  Predators and voyeurs would take advantage of the policy to prey on those who are vulnerable.  And it’s clear now that over one million customers agree.”

Target defended its policy in a statement saying that it believes everyone “deserves to be protected from discrimination, and treated equally” and earlier this week, a Target spokeswoman defended the policy as “inclusive.” 

The AFA said that unisex bathrooms are a common-sense alternative to allowing men unfettered access to women’s bathrooms.

“Target should keep separate facilities for men and women, but for the trans community and for those who simply like using the bathroom alone, a single occupancy unisex option should be provided,” the petition says. 

The AFA warned that Target’s new policy benefits sexual predators and poses a danger to women and children. 

“With Target publicly boasting that men can enter women's bathrooms, where do you think predators are going to go?” the petition asked. 

There have been numerous instances of predatory men accessing women’s bathrooms and intimate facilities in the wake of “transgender” bathroom policies allowing them to do so. 

“We want to make it very clear that AFA does not believe the transgender community poses this danger to the wider public,” said Wildmon. “Rather, this misguided and reckless policy provides a possible gateway for predators who are out there.”



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Amazing new video captures the flash of light the moment life begins

Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben

CHICAGO, April 29, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Life begins with a spark – literally.

Researchers at Northwestern University have documented the striking event in a new video that accompanies a study published this week.

At the moment of conception, the egg releases massive amounts of zinc, which creates a spark that can be seen with the aid of a microscope.

“It was remarkable,” said Teresa Woodruff, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University's medical school. “To see the zinc radiate out in a burst from each human egg was breathtaking.”

The research team had noted the zinc sparks before in mice eggs but had never observed the process in human beings.

“All of biology starts at the time of fertilization,” Woodruff said, “yet we know next to nothing about the events that occur in the human.”

One of the researchers, Northwestern chemistry professor Thomas O'Halloran, explained the science behind the process in 2014.

“The egg first has to stockpile zinc and then must release some of the zinc to successfully navigate maturation, fertilization and the start of embryogenesis,” he said. “On cue, at the time of fertilization, we see the egg release thousands of packages, each dumping a million zinc atoms, and then it's quiet.”

“Each egg has four or five of these periodic sparks,” O'Halloran said. “It is beautiful to see, orchestrated much like a symphony.”

Since the amount of zinc in an egg correlates with successful implantation and birth, the Northwestern researchers are highlighting that their research may be used to assist in vitro fertilization.

But that raises concerns given the grave moral issues with IVF, which involves creating numerous embryos that are either killed or frozen. Moral theologians also emphasize that IVF is an injustice even for the children who are born as a result, as they are created in a lab rather than in the union of man and woman.

The study may have far-reaching consequences the research team did not intend, such as strengthening public belief in the longstanding scientific consensus that life begins at the moment of conception/fertilization.

Many of those who saw the Northwestern video said it testifies to the beauty of life and the shallow lies that buttress the argument of abortion-on-demand.

“I saw this, and I was blown away by it,” said Rush Limbaugh on his nationally syndicated radio program Thursday afternoon. “For anybody in the mainstream media to openly admit that life begins at conception” defies arguments that an unborn child is only “tissue mass.”

Researchers released a separate video of the zinc spark taking place in a mammalian egg more than a year ago:

The paper, which is entitled “The Zinc Spark is an Inorganic Signature of Human Egg Activation,” was published by Scientific Reports on April 26.



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