By Hilary White
TORONTO, July 25, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Vision TV, Canada’s non-profit “multi-faith” broadcaster, has been in the news this week after it allowed two programs to air that featured an Islamic extremist imam who called for worldwide Islamic jihad and foresaw the extermination of all Jews. The broadcaster, after initially defending the appearance of Israr Ahmad, apologised, promising to install a “task force” to ensure that such an “error” does not happen again.
In an editorial headlined “Hateful Vision“, the National Post accepted the explanation of a mistake, but took the broadcaster to task for what many have complained is its extreme left-liberal biases, syncretism and marked aversion to granting fair hearing to the opinions of orthodox religious believers.
The editorial pointed to Vision’s history of open contempt for traditional forms of Christianity and other religious beliefs and its fondness for homosexual and radical feminist causes. The editorial said, “we hope the [Israr Ahmad] episode prompts the media elite as a whole to address our society’s double standard when it comes to bigotry.”
Despite the requirement in Vision’s code of ethics for “balance” in its reporting, the recent history of one of the broadcaster’s flagship programs, 360 Vision, illustrates their dedication to fashionable leftist religious and political causes.
In May, the 360 Vision program titled, “Born in the wrong body” featured two men who claim to be “transgendered”. Accepting without qualification the homosexual movement’s assertions, the program’s voiceover begins “Like many women, Lisa and Marisa enjoy shopping for vintage clothes.” The two men, the program asserts, were born in male bodies, “but in their minds, they’ve always felt like women.”
The program’s real focus, however, is the pastor of Centenary United Church in Hamilton, Ontario, Rev. Wayne Irwin, whom the program holds up as a model of acceptance and tolerance of “alternative” genders and lifestyles. Rev. Irwin, implying that sinful behaviour is irrelevant, said, “God’s love is without condition. It’s not dependent on behaviour, it’s not dependent on how good we are. God’s love is dependent on how good God is.”
In “Thorny Paths,” which aired March 21 this year, Vision interviews Fr. Karl Clemens, who, the host says, is “still at it. Ministering to Toronto’s lesbian and gay community.” Clemens is the Catholic priest, retired from active service with the Archdiocese of Kingston, Ontario, who told hosts of 360 Vision in 2005, “I’m a Roman Catholic priest and I’m gay”. Asked why he has not been excommunicated by the Catholic Church for his open opposition to Catholic teaching on sexuality, Fr. Clemens tells the interviewer, “Why should they? I’m doing a lot of good. I’m bringing the love of God to a lot of people.” Clemens adds ominously, “They’re not getting it otherwise.”
The airing of “Thorny Paths,” was followed by a vicious attack on the Catholic Church by 360 Vision’s regular host Marianne Meed Ward who called the Church “diabolical” for its teaching on sexuality.
Meed Ward charged that the Vatican is “hunting people who have publicly admitted being gay.” She continued, “If (Jesus) were here now he and his whip would be in the Catholic Church, in any church where gays and lesbians aren’t welcome.”
Another 360 Vision program aired in February, giving New Age writer and former Dominican priest Matthew Fox a venue in which he attacked the Catholic Church and Pope Benedict XVI personally and expanded on his assertion that the Church “needs to die” in its current form.
Interspersed with thunderclap sound effects and gothic shots of stained glass windows, the 360 Vision program, “The Rebellion,” aired May 29, features Irene Deshenes, who “is going to a place that terrifies her,” the Catholic Church. The 360 Vision program, begins, “Irene Deshenes is going to a place that terrifies her. It gives her panic attacks and flashbacks. It almost destroyed her life.” Irene Deshenes, a woman who suffered sexual abuse by a Catholic priest as a girl, is among a group of women whom the program claims, without further qualification or explanation of the Catholic teaching on the priesthood, was “ordained a Roman Catholic priest” in Toronto last year.
The program also highlights Marie Evans Bouclin, a former Catholic nun who is presented as a hero for her belief that she can be ordained as a Catholic priest without the consent of the Catholic Church.
Complaints have been made that none of the shows gave equal time to the orthodox or traditional position on marriage, sexuality, gender or ordination.
Gwen Landoldt, vice president of REAL Women of Canada, a group that has done extensive research into Vision, told LifeSiteNews.com that Vision rarely produces programs with traditional moral or Christian themes. “They very seldom put in genuine Christian material. It was all what I would call ‘contemporary’ moral values. They’re open to everything but basic Christianity,” she said.
Fr. Paul McDonald, a pastor and the vocations director for the Catholic diocese of St. Catherine’s Ontario, told LifeSiteNews.com that he sees a genuine danger to such programming. Groups like Vision that espouse “tolerance” as a universal value, Fr. McDonald said, “can tolerate anything except the claim that a religious belief is objectively true.”
Despite the show’s reputation for unbalanced reporting, pro-homosexual and anti-Christian and anti-traditional biases, John Scully, Senior Producer of 360 Vision praised his staff saying, “This team had the courage to take risks, to tell stories that other programs would not take on and reveal truths that people did not always want to hear. I believe that 360 Vision has set a lasting standard for reporting on faith and spirituality in Canada.”
After the coverage of the jihadist lecture by the National Post, Vision finally offered a public apology and promised to amend their production oversight procedure. Thus far, Catholics, evangelicals and other orthodox religious believers who have been maligned by Vision TV have received no similar overtures from the broadcaster.
Read related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:
Vision TV Blasted for Jihadist Anti-Semitic Programs and “Relativism”
Over $700,000 Catholic Church Funds to Canadian Anti-Catholic TV Network Questioned
Catholic-Supported Canadian TV Station Attacking Church Yet Again
Vision TV Moving toward More Openly Anti-Catholic Bias