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Saturday Selections – June 15, 2024

Dr. Matthew Wielicki: I refused to stay silent about climate change (8 min) One silver lining to the COVID-related censorship that happened on social media was that everyone got to see it. Mention the "lab-leak" theory and your post would be banned or have a warning label assigned to it... no matter that the case for the theory was always obvious. This "shut up the critics" tactic has long been employed in origins research too – 6-day creationists and even Intelligent Design proponents were excluded from publishing in the mainstream science journals, no matter how high the quality of their research. It shouldn't surprise us to learn that this same sort of censorship and pressure is being exerted on the climate front. As Dr. Matthew Wielicki shares, "This isn't about truth. This is about silencing people who disagree with you..." Hopeful amillennialism How is God going to bring this broken world to an end? That's a much-debated topic in Reformed circles, but maybe not all that hotly, simply because we don't think it a "salvific" issue. That's why we can more easily leave it as a matter where we might be a bit muddled. That said, one thing is clear: if you are a pessimistic amillennial, you need to repent. 3 core beliefs of the transgender movement It's no coincidence that these three beliefs run almost exactly opposite to what God has said.  As Samuel Ferguson explains, the transgender movement affirms that: My identity is self-determined My feelings, not my body, determine my gender We find wholeness through external, not internal, change Transgenderism isn't primarily an attack on logic, but rather a specific assault on God's Truth. Any godless argument against transgenderism is, then, going to be akin to standing up for your favorite athlete when the guy you're talking to has just spent the last fifteen minutes talking about your mom's weight. You're not addressing the real fight! This is a spiritual battle, and God's people need to defend Who is really being attacked. We need to give the world what it really needs to hear: that God has assigned us our gender, and given us an identity, and we can mar and mutilate, or receive and celebrate, what He has given us. Beating bullies with a compliment Kids will often have fun at another child's expense by insulting them – one child can feel big by making another feel small. Sometimes teachers will have to be involved. But as Prov. 15:1 notes, "a gentle answer turns away wrath..."  and what's proposed in this article is a version of that: try giving the bully a sincere compliment. What are they teaching kids about sex in public schools? This is a US article, but there's no reason to think it any different in Canada – mention of "alternative lifestyles" is going to be affirming. How eating out keeps you poor (7 min) Even if you don't eat out nearly as often as these people, this will still be "food" for thought for most of us. ...


Saturday Selections – June 8, 2024

Looking deeper at tiny, extraordinary engineers  Hives have been called the pinnacles of biological engineering, and we're only now learning just how extraordinary they are. The Sexular Age never sleeps: 4 stages We've seen the woke advance happen in sports, which the writer calls the West's true religion, in four distinct stages: What you cannot say - first Christian athletes were told to shut up about homosexuality What you must say - then Christian athletes were told to wear the jersey, or patch Who you must not associate with - Christians couldn't be on the wrong organization's board Who you must associate with - don't distance yourselves from men in dresses Why conservative Christian men make good husbands "Many people assume that most theologically conservative men are ...domineering. But sociological studies have refuted that negative stereotype. Compared to secular men, devout Christian family men who attend church regularly are more loving husbands and more engaged fathers. They have the lowest rates of divorce. And astonishingly, they have the lowest rate of domestic violence of any major group in America." Why not private providers? It worked (briefly) in Saskatchewan  When the government is in charge, long waits and high costs don't surprise anyone. And yet, in Canada, most seem to want public healthcare even though they have to wait half a year or more for surgeries. There is an animosity towards private care, in part, because it is thought it might allow richer Canadians to get quicker care than the rest of us. But isn't that akin to being jealous that our neighbor can have sushi when we can only afford hot dogs? Or, to put it in more biblical terms, isn't that the envy God forbids in His 10th Commandment? The lack of private care options eliminates the competitive pressures that could lower costs or speed up wait times for everyone. Even if the government is going to be the universal payer, why does it need to be the universal provider? We have private family doctors, so why not expand the private options to increase the competition? As the Fraser Institute notes in the report above, it seemed to work in Saskatchewan for the decade they tried it. How to ask for a raise Christians are supposed to be humble. But that doesn't mean we should underestimate our value to our company. So what might we keep in mind as we ask for more money? Bubba changed his name to Charlene Ray Stevens is still around, and still making music. Here he is with his latest, about our culture's latest shenanigans. ...


Ticked-off hockey fans, and 1.4 billion other reasons to defund the CBC

The CBC got into trouble last week, when it broadcast the finale of the Eastern Conference between two American NHL teams, but not the last two games of the Western Conference Final, which featured the Edmonton Oilers as the last Canadian team standing. That got folks upset, including Conservative Party Deputy Leader Tim Uppal, who tweeted: “The Edmonton Oilers are the only Canadian team left in the playoffs. Despite receiving $1.4 billion in taxpayer dollars this year, CBC decided not to air the Oilers games. Instead, CBC aired a Just For Laughs replay. It's time to defund the CBC. #DefundCBC” It’s not just those two missed games – there are 1.4 billion other reasons the CBC should be defunded. And they’re not the only reporters the government is funding – legacy media outlets like the National Post and the Globe and Mail divvied up approximately $885 million taxpayer dollars over the course of the last 5 years. The CBC took in more than $5 billion tax dollars over that 5-year span, and also more than $2.5 billion in ad dollars. How much of that advertising revenue could online independents like the Western Standard or True North have had coming their way if they weren’t competing against these taxpayer-propped-up giants? We haven’t even gotten into the CBC’s ”Pride” pushing, abortion-affirming, and transmutilation-defending agenda. On these three fronts, and more, the CBC is opposing God Himself. Then there’s the enormous problem of the government subsidizing the very media that is supposed to hold it to account. We can be thankful that some independent outlets do still exist, and the Opposition Leader has learned how to use his YouTube channel to sidestep the media altogether to get his message out. But it shouldn't surprise us if the CBC and the now paid-for legacy media is reluctant to bite the hand that feeds them. So yes, let’s defund the CBC. And let’s do more than that. As the Fraser Institute reported in their “Federal Support for Journalism” study, the government’s attempts to support journalism haven’t even preserved journalists’ jobs. Since 2011 more media outlets have closed each year than new outlets have begun. The Liberals’ most recent “media-supporting” effort, Bill C-11, has hurt rather than helped. It was supposed to support legacy media outlets by squeezing money out of social media heavyweights like Google and Meta whenever they listed a Canadian news article. While the government did get some money from Google, Meta decided that, instead of paying, they’d simply get rid of all the Canadian news off of Facebook. That hurt Canadian news organizations, big and small, by shutting off access to their own social media audience. So the government should defund the CBC, but it shouldn’t stop there. The government needs to stop meddling in the media in every other way too. Who knows what kind of media we might get if only open, fair competition were allowed to exist....


Saturday Selections – June 1, 2024

If there is a common theme to this week's edition it might be government overreach. For Christians, who know God has set up different governments for different purposes – Family, Church, Civil – we understand that our elected leaders should only rule in a limited realm. But leaders who reject there is a God above them seem increasingly eager to step into His unlimited role. They want to expand their impact... but that they aren't doing so well with the areas already under their influence only underscores the importance of God's limits. Minimum wage up to $20 in California (6 min) Minimum wage laws are put in place by governments that run a deficit every year. If they can't mind their own business, why would they think they can run everyone else's (Matt. 7:3-5)? And it gets worse – as John Stossel notes below, some US minimum wage laws were originally put in place to discriminate against blacks. Raw sewage in the Thames: an actual environmental ill we can fix Some of the political leaders promising they can adjust the world's weather are having problems with more local matters – there is raw sewage hitting the Thames (Luke 16:10, Luke 19:17). "More people will die from real environmental problems than from the climate in 2050, whether it’s warmer or colder. We need to move beyond attention-grabbing headlines about distant imaginary threats and focus on actual ones." South Korea down to just 0.72 children a woman To keep its population stable, South Korea would need to triple its birth rate. Canada, in comparison, is at 1.33 children per woman (as of 2022) or about two-thirds of the 2.1 children per woman we'd need to keep our population stable. Canada was last at the 2.1 figure way back in 1971 (that so shocked me, I tripled-checked, but I think I have it right) and has masked its declining birth rate with massive levels of immigration. South Korea is not interested in that approach and is instead looking to government programs for the fix, but to this point throwing money at the problem hasn't really helped anywhere else in the world. Why not? Well, maybe it's because having kids is always a leap of faith, and the secular world is without hope. Christians are still having kids though; we have a God worthy of our faith. Another reason is the communion of saints that He provides can help lighten the load. June 1 is Dinosaur Day! Everyone loves dinosaurs, but there are some tall tales being told about them. So here are some fun facts to counter the fake news. Click on the title above for an entire chapter on dinosaurs – something for the serious reader – and for something shorter see below: Did dinosaurs fit on Noah's Ark? Is there scientific proof dinosaur fossils aren't millions of years old? Is there evidence dinosaurs died in the flood? Is there cultural evidence dinosaurs lived at the same time as Man? Yes, NBC, homosexuality is "natural" but so are... Just in time for Pride Month, NBC is broadcasting a series called "Queer Planet" to show that homosexuality exists among animals. True enough... but so does rape, slavery, necrophilia, and cannibalism, so "natural" hardly means right. As Kurt Mahlburg notes, we can aspire to act better than animals, because we are different from them, made in the very image of God. Jordan Peterson and whether euthanasia victims are drowning to death Euthanasia was sold to Canadians as a means of providing near-death patients some mercy and autonomy. But where is the mercy and autonomy for 49-year-old Roger Foley? When he admitted to medical staff that despair was driving him to have suicidal thoughts, he wasn't helped, but was encouraged in that direction. And, he says, since euthanasia has been put in place, his care has suffered. Perhaps that's because he's now seen as a patient who is stubbornly refusing "treatment." In the article linked above, Jordan Peterson is involved in a discussion about how the drugs Canadian doctors use to "mercifully" murder their patients may, effectively, cause them to die via drowning, with a paralytic drug preventing them from crying out. The neglectful care for Foley, and the possibility that euthanasia victims are dying slow drowning deaths, are both horrific. But the issue here isn't how euthanasia is being offered, or how it is being administered. (If it were, then we could be satisfied if only it were offered and administered better.) The real debate – the real battle – is over whose life is it? and who owns our life? The Christian answer to both questions is, God. He says, do not murder, even ourselves. The contrast we need to present then, is how following His ways leads to true compassion and mercy, and a culture of life, while following the culture of death, and its lies of autonomy, leads to where "even the mercy of the wicked is cruel" (Prov. 12:10b). ...


Saturday Selections – May 25, 2024

Click on the titles for the linked articles... Annie Wilson: Songs about Whiskey We've all heard country songs about drinking whiskey, but this one is of a very different sort. Why the best gift for your child is a brother or sister God says children are a blessing (Ps. 127:3-5), and, as this secular article shares, that blessing doesn't just extend to their parents. Is the transgender movement collapsing after the Cass Review? Parents with confused boys were sold this bill of goods: "Would you rather have a dead son or a living daughter?" This false dilemma has been exposed with the Cass Review, the world's largest overview of these surgical and chemical mutilations. The Cass Review is good news, but Jonathon Van Maren is more optimistic than I am that the transgender movement might now be collapsing. I am less so because of how the reversal came about – there is no return here to God's Truth and no submission to the reality that He made us male and female. One lie has been toppled, but the world is ready with many more (see Matt. 12:43-45). What the world needs are not more common-sense conservative commentators, but a clear Christian witness. And to turn to God's Truth, they first need to hear it, from us. Why is Canada (and the US) short of doctors? When I ask my kids why this-or-that major problem has occurred, experience has taught them that there's a likely culprit: the government. In both Canada and the US, the government has overseen a deliberate restriction of the number of positions available for medical students so our current doctor shortages can be laid squarely at their feet. The Canadian situation is described above and the US here. So what's the solution? Some might think it a matter of firing the incompetent bureaucrats and replacing them with better ones. But what human being is ever going to be smart enough to know precisely how many doctors we're going to need in 10 or 20 years' time? The problem isn't so much a lack of competence, as a failure to, in humility, acknowledge a lack of omnipotence – we shouldn't expect our government to have this sort of know-how, and they should stop pretending they possess it. Consistency matters on IVF too In the US, after Roe vs. Wade was overturned, the IVF industry was threatened, because if embryos were recognized as precious human beings, then that industry would no longer be allowed to continue their inhuman freezing and disposal of any of the embryos they produce. But with more and more people having fertility difficulties, IVF has grown in popularity such that a very confused, supposedly pro-life senator is now trying to effectively enshrine a right to IVF. But, as Rachel Roth Aldhizer writes, if we are pro-life then that logic should extend to IVF too. What Christians just don't get about LGBT folk (3 min) Rosaria Butterfield: "Being a lesbian wasn't my biggest sin. Being an unbeliever was." ...


Saturday Selections – May 18, 2024

Gray Havens: See You Again (3 min) This Gray Havens' song is an attempted answer to a question that many a married couple has wondered: how can there be no marriage in heaven (Matt. 22:30)? In my head I understand that as a part of the Church we will all be the very bride of Christ, and what we had here with our spouse was only a pale shadow of this perfected bond we will have with our Saviour. But if you were in a good marriage how can you help but wonder, what about the wonderful special relationship you've had with your spouse for so many years? How can that just be done?  The answer, I think, is that it won't be. We won't be married, but that doesn't mean we'll be strangers. As the song puts it: Gonna see you again On the gold streets Standing next to me, I know I'm gonna see you again Darling, won't be long Till every trace of trouble is gone We'll be together And I'm not sure what that means But I know it'll be better than we ever dreamed When I see you again I'm not sure what that will mean either, but I can trust my good and gracious God that it will indeed be better that any of us dreamed. 25 ways to provoke your children to anger "How much of the anger in my home is caused by me? That’s a painful question. As parents, fathers in particular, we must heed God’s Word from Eph. 6:4 Of course, this is not to say that all of our children’s anger is caused by us. Each of our children is personally responsible for his or her own sin. However, this warning from God is here for a reason. One of the ways our sinful flesh manifests itself is by provoking others to anger. And the easiest place to do that is in our own home." DeYoung: homework on Sunday? In his book The 10 Commandments, Kevin DeYoung shares how he has never regretted deciding to make Sunday a homework-free day. Green hydrogen: a multibillion-dollar energy boondoggle (10-min read) When ethanol-from-corn-production first started it probably took more energy to produce a unit of ethanol than that unit could then produce. So why did governments push it? Because it looked good, even if it didn’t do good. Increased farm efficiencies since then may have changed that net negative into a positive but the return is, at best, still modest, with estimates of 1.5 units of energy created for every unit of energy used in corn-ethanol production. By way of comparison, in the US, one unit of energy used in gas production returns 15-30 units of gas energy. Now the US is ramping up production of hydrogen, but a unit of hydrogen takes more energy to produce than that unit of hydrogen then contains. And according to this article, that’s a matter of physics, and no manner of technological advances will change that net negative result. We should not be surprised that a world that has rejected God isn’t concerned with doing actual good, even as it still wants to look good. Thus this showmanship instead of stewardship. Preparing our children to suffer well (10-min read) There are things we can do to better prepare our children for the challenges and pains they will inevitably experience. Pulling the reverse card on a woke feminist (1 min) When a feminist is offended by a guy wearing a "feminist for Trump" shirt, he reverses it on her, questioning why she presumed his gender. Think of it as an addendum to the Golden Rule (Matt 7:12) – we aren't supposed to do to others as they do to us, but what about when a little tit for tat would be highly educational? Then that could be the best thing for them... which is what we should want others to do to us, right? But turnabout is all this fellow's got. Meanwhile Christians can do one better by finishing the argument. As Paul writes in 2 Cor. 10:5, we should want to "demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God," but note what comes next: "we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." Ben Shapiro, Jordan Peterson, Pierre Poilievre and others can tear down the other sides' arguments. But if that's all they do, then they're leaving the world in the same state as the man in Luke 11:24-26, who after being freed from an evil spirit, replaced it with nothing, only to have that spirit return with seven others "and the final condition of that man" was even worse than before. Merely dismantling a lie leaves a person vulnerable to the infinite number of others lies out there. So we should learn how to tear down false idols, like we see many conservative commentators doing. But we need to offer the alternative too, doing what only God's people can do – pointing people away from the lie and towards God, and the truth that He made us male and female (Gen. 1:26-27). ...


Albertos Polizogopoulos: lawyer for the Lord

On May 9, 2024, the LORD called Albertos Polizogopoulos to Himself, completing his task on earth at the age of 41. Not long after starting law school, Albertos was introduced to his wife-to-be Faye Sonier, a follower of Christ. Albertos decided to investigate the Christian faith for himself and was convicted by God’s Word. He proceeded to dedicate the rest of his life to his Lord Jesus Christ, who drew him closer and closer. Unlike the United States, Canada doesn’t have many Christian lawyers devoted to upholding constitutional freedoms. Albertos has been one of the few exceptions. He regularly defended life and freedom in Canada’s courts, including ten appearances before the Supreme Court of Canada. When I first met Albertos, through our mutual friend and colleague André Schutten, he jovially compelled us to stay up well into the early hours of the new day. He loved to tell stories and debate, while enjoying a good cigar. But as the years progressed, he changed his priorities and devoted his time to his family. ARPA Canada worked with Albertos regularly through the years, either by retaining him or intervening alongside him. He also wrote for RP recently about the coming battles over church property. His obituary testified to how the LORD continued to change Albertos and draw him closer, especially since he was diagnosed with cancer three years ago. “Albertos frequently spoke about how Christ changed his life. He exhibited peace about his terminal diagnosis and a profound trust that God was sovereign…. Days before his death, he looked at his wife from his hospital bed and said, ‘I don't think I know anyone more blessed than I am.’" There are very few lawyers who have the willingness and ability to devote their full-time career to upholding the value of human life, and our fundamental freedoms. I thank God for Albertos. His earthly race has completed, and I pray that more young Christians will pick up his baton and keep running....


Saturday Selections – May 11, 2024

Click on the titles for the linked articles... Rend Collective: Lighthouse This one had our girls dancing... How deer grow antlers They do it every year again, and we're only just starting to fathom how much is all involved. Stem cells have something to do with it, but " do the two antlers maintain their bilateral symmetry, such that they branch at almost exactly the same points while separated by many centimeters to feet apart? Don’t ask they deer. They don’t know." Rex Murphy passes away at 77 Though he was a long-time presence on the CBC, and once touted Pierre Trudeau as "the greatest Canadian ever," Murphy was still a favorite among conservatives for his criticisms of Justin Trudeau, and his common sense objections to Trudeau's climate agenda. Women are forfeiting rather than competing against men in dresses This isn't quite Eric Liddell and Chariots of Fire, because, so far as I know, these athletes aren't forfeiting because they are Christian. But their example is worthy of imitation, and that opportunity – to forfeit to the glory of God, in celebration of how He made us male and female – may present itself to our own daughters very soon. True North covers the March for Life Three to four thousand pro-lifers' March for Life hit Ottawa this past Thursday, though you'd be forgiven for not knowing that if you only read mainstream news. True North did cover the event, and that shibboleth is why, if you haven't already heard of them already, you might want to check them out. As the linked article demonstrates, True North is willing to cover Christians, listen to them sympathetically, and quote them accurately (and even employs at least one or two), but this is a conservative, not Christian outlet. They covered the March, but didn't really explore the heart of the conflict – they didn't explain how the issue is between what God says about where our worth comes from – being made in His Image (Gen. 1:27) – and the non-explanation for our worth offered by those who say the unborn only have value if their mom wants them. That said, True North is still one of the better media outlets in Canada. And the price is right – you can sign up to their daily email newsletter for free. The New York Times says it is now okay to question the COVID vaccine ...and they're not the only one. CNN host Chris Cuomo, who was calling people crazy for not getting the vaccine, is now compassionately raising the issue of vaccination injuries. What's important to understand is that this reversal isn't simply a matter of error – we all make mistakes – but showcases the arrogance of their original stand. When people then expressed the ideas the NYT and CNN are only allowing to be expressed now,  these two media entities didn't just differ, but advocated for those people to be fired and otherwise penalized, because to do anything other than be vaccinated was crazy. They couldn't conceive they might be wrong. But for some, it now seems getting the vaccine was the wrong thing to do. The point isn't that the vaccine was bad, or that it didn't help millions, maybe billions. The point is that there were inevitably going to be tradeoffs – there always are – and our political leaders not only didn't discuss those tradeoffs, but ridiculed those who tried to. And penalized anyone who refused to do as they said. This, then, is one more reason we don't want big governments. When they make mistakes it is on a grand scale, forcing everyone to join in with their mistake. The power to compel is one to use only with great restraint... but restraint isn't a quality of the arrogant. Check out the video below for Chris Cuomo vs. Chris Cuomo. 🚨Watch former CNN host Chris Cuomo's (@ChrisCuomo) dramatic 180 on Covid vaccines! — MilkBarTV (@TheMilkBarTV) May 6, 2024 ...

History, News

Israel at War

Once again the Middle East is in flames. The incalculable human misery that is graphically portrayed in the media cannot leave one unaffected. The terrorists’ abuse and massacre of unsuspecting Israeli civilians on October 7, 2023 was horrific and of unprecedented barbarity. When Israel responded, Palestinian families have seen their homes and possessions disappear in rubble and dust as bombs fell on Gaza. The ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians seems intractable and without any solution. The war is also being fought through the media. Both true facts and lies are vying for a hearing. Winston Churchill is said to have once quipped: “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.” Well, that may be the case, but an effort should at least be made, even within the confines of an article, to separate some facts from fiction. Some key facts Although present day Israel has no biblical right to the land (see “Is the State of Israel a fulfillment of biblical prophecy?” at, yet Israel has every legal right to be there as a nation according to international law. Here are some key facts. In 1947, the United Nations (UN) voted to partition Palestine into two states when the British Mandate authorized by the League of Nations would come to an end in the following year. One state was to be for the Jews and the other for the Palestinian Arabs. Jerusalem and Bethlehem were to be in an international zone. When Britain withdrew, Israel declared its independence and occupied the land designated to it by the UN. However, rather than adopt the UN’s plan of two states, Arab armies from all the surrounding nations attacked Israel, determined to exterminate it. They were not successful. This was not the last time that the Arabs would try to rid the Middle East of Israel. When Egypt, Syria, and Jordan were preparing to attack Israel again, Israel launched a pre-emptive strike in 1967. The war lasted six days and ended with Israel occupying the Sinai Peninsula, the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank. In 1973 Egypt and Syria once more attacked Israel, with Israel once again prevailing. Eventually, Egypt under Anwar Sadat recognized Israel in 1978, and for his trouble, he was assassinated by Arab extremists in 1981. King Hussein of Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain have also made peace with Israel. Morocco has diplomatic relations with Israel. The refusal of other Arab nations to recognize the State of Israel has continued up to today. This refusal, especially as demonstrated by Hamas, has been the key obstacle to peace in the region. Arab grievances Many grievances fuel the hatred for Israel and the determination to wipe the country off the map. A common charge against Israel is that the Jews displaced Palestinians who had been living in the Holy Land for centuries. A little history lesson is needed to answer this accusation. Prior to the massive immigration of European Jews to Palestine in the late 19th century, the land, which is now the land of Israel, was mostly barren and under-populated. An 1857 report from the British consul in Jerusalem reported that the country needed more people. As time went on, further reports noted that the area was becoming depopulated, villages were abandoned, and land was going out of cultivation. All this is credible information because living in that area at the time was extremely harsh. Infant mortality was high, life expectancy short, and water scarce. People were not moving in but out. When Jews started coming in, they bought land usually from absentee landowners, and over time dramatically improved the living conditions. By the mid-1890’s the Jewish presence was important and by 1947 they formed a majority in the territory that became Israel. Because the Jews prospered, Arabs moved in to share in their prosperity and the improved health care. It is a myth that European Jews displaced a large, stable, long-term Muslim Arab population that had lived in that part of the Middle East for centuries. There has never been a Palestinian people as a separate ethnic and national entity. Technically speaking there is no such thing as the Palestinian people since there has never been a Palestinian State, that is, an Arab state in what is now Israel. Many of the people who call themselves Palestinians today are descendants of the relatively recent economic immigrants mentioned above. Because of the growing number of Jews who legally owned the land they lived on, the territory at the eastern end of the Mediterranean, historically known as the land of Canaan, became in essence a homeland for persecuted Jews. This development eventually led to the formation of the State of Israel in 1948. Israel has the full political right to be a nation in the Middle East, occupying the land that their ancestors have lived in for thousands of years. Israelites and their descendants have been dwelling continuously in the land since the days of Moses. With the establishment of the State of Israel, the Jews had encouraged the Arabs to stay and build the country with them. However, the Palestinian Arabs were advised by the surrounding Arab nations to leave Palestine and that after the war (1948) and the anticipated defeat of the Jews, they could return. Israel, however, won the war and 700,000 Arabs who had left Israel were homeless. Here are the makings of the refugee problem. Meanwhile, the Arabs who had stayed in Israel were relatively well off and shared in the general prosperity of Israel. They still have their own representatives in Parliament, and enjoy freedom of the press and religion. Arabic is also an officially recognized language. As a minority within a Jewish state, they undoubtedly have their own special difficulties and hardships. However, in the past wars, they have shown solidarity with the Israelis.1 Another Arab grievance with more validity is that Israel continues to build settlements in the West Bank, which is not part of Israel according to the 1947 UN partition plan. Arabs living in the West Bank are understandably upset by the establishment of Jewish settlements in the region and the gradual encroachment of more and more settlements into what they regard as their territory. Israel is therefore accused of being an expansionary colonial power. Even prominent Israelis and some of the most ardent supporters of Israel like Alan Dershowitz oppose these settlements. But, for context, a couple of things should also be noted. From Israel’s government’s point of view, their occupation of the West Bank is a result of their winning the 1967 war, a conflict with which Arabs had hoped to obliterate Israel. Wars have results, and who controls what changes with those results. Furthermore, Israel has shown that the matter of settlements is not a barrier to peace if Arabs would be willing to recognize Israel. When Israel made peace with Egypt in 1979, Israel removed their Sinai settlements. In 2003, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon indicated that Israel would be willing to make “painful concessions” regarding the settlements in exchange for peace and give up some of them. Under his watch, Israel left everything they owned in Gaza when 21 settlements were dismantled in 2005.  Polls have shown that the majority of those who live in these settlements are willing to abandon their homes if it means peace for Israel.2 The legality of Israel’s occupation is currently before the International Court of Justice in The Hague. The UN General Assembly had asked the court for a non-binding advisory opinion on Israel’s policies in the occupied territories. The issue is incredibly complicated. It came before the court in February (2024) but the expectation is that it will take the judges months to issue an opinion. The refugee problem The media have informed us at length of the tragedy of the refugee camps where Arabs who fled from Israel now live and where new generations are being raised. What is not often made clear is that Arab countries do not want the refugee problem to be solved. They want it to serve as a permanent pressure and weapon against Israel. The Arab leaders show that they do not care about the refugees by refusing to let them be permanently resettled in their own countries. Meanwhile the refugee camps continue to be breeding grounds for hate and terrorism. Here is a problem that could have been solved but the failure to do so is ultimately because Arabs refuse to recognize the legitimacy of Israel. A resolution of the problem of the refugees has been further complicated by the emergence of The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1964, and more recently Hamas which is even more radical in its determination to wipe Israel off the map. Hamas was founded in 1987 and took over from the PLO in about 2006, assuming control of the Gaza Strip shortly after that. It also launched the massacre of last year in southern Israel. Because everything depends on recognizing Israel’s right to exist, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) is not seeking solutions for the resettlement of the refugees as would normally be the case. Instead it is simply maintaining these refugees in the camps. According to the UNRWA the total number of refugees was about 5.6 million Palestinians in 2019, of which 1.5 million lived in camps. The numbers have continued to increase. Entire generations are being raised and educated to hate Israel. The refusal to recognize Israel Much could be solved if Arab leaders would have accepted a two-state solution of Israel and a Palestinian State in 1937 (the Peel Commission), 1948, and 2000. On all these occasions, Israel accepted a two-state solution, but to no avail. There was no Arab reciprocity because it would involve recognizing the legitimacy of the State of Israel. This was dramatically displayed with the Camp David peace negotiations in 2000-2001 (a result of the 1990’s Oslo Peace Accords). To everyone’s amazement and even shock, Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered the Palestinians virtually everything they had been demanding: a state with its capital in Jerusalem, control over the Temple Mount, a return of approximately 95 percent of the West Bank and all of the Gaza Strip, and a $30 billion compensation package for the 1948 refugees. Yet Yasser Arafat rejected that historic offer. Why? Because he would have had to acknowledge the legitimacy of the State of Israel. He preferred to go to war. Suicide bombings and terrorist attacks followed. When Israel responded with force, it was blamed for overreacting and not caring about the Palestinians. Arafat and his PLO, and now Hamas, did not and do not care about the fate of the Palestinians in their camps and in Gaza. Hamas continues to use civilians as shields in their war and then blame Israel for the casualties. After the horrid and barbaric abuse and slaughter of civilians by Hamas on October 7, 2023, Israel has responded as they have the full right to do so in self-defense. They have, however, taken extraordinary measures to safeguard civilian life in Gaza – measures unprecedented in military history according to one expert.3 But if the enemy uses civilians as a shield what can one expect but civilian deaths? One must not forget that according to the polls taken after the attack, most of the Gazan population was in favor of Hamas and its barbaric terrorism against civilians in the October 7 atrocities.4 There is also an important underlying religious dimension. Islamic fundamentalism will never recognize Israel as legitimate because according to them, territory once conquered by Islam, as the territory of Israel was once conquered, can never be relinquished. It must be retaken. The Hamas Charter (1988) states that “the land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Moslem generations until Judgment Day” (Art. 11). Hamas therefore “strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine” (Art. 6). Consequently, “there is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time” (Art. 13). Not surprisingly when Hamas terrorized southern Israel last October, they did so crying: “Allahu Akbar!” that is, “Our god is the greatest!” The hatred of Jews and their perceived illegitimacy has a long history in Islam. They regard the Jews as being under God’s curse5 and terrorists shouting “Allahu Akbar” undoubtedly think that to kill Jews is to do the will of Allah. Where does the solution lie? The root political problem is the refusal to recognize Israel. As long as that is the case, there is no solution. Combined with the underlying problem of nationalism and self-determination are also the conflicting claims of Judaism and Islam. Both Israel and Arab Muslims have a strong emotional attachment to Palestine. Arab Muslims assert that they are descendants of Abraham, through Ishmael. As Muslims, they claim Jerusalem as a holy site because according to Islam, Jerusalem was the last place Mohammed visited before he ascended into the heavens and talked to God. Neither side can appeal to the Bible and say on the basis of the Scriptures, “The land is mine!” Many experts think that a solution should be sought in having two viable and realistic states in the Middle East, one for Jews and one for the Arabs in the region. For that to happen, however, Israel needs to be assured that such an Arab state would not have the desire to keep working on the long term goal of putting an end to the State of Israel. That trust is understandably completely lacking at the moment. A young woman, in front of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, looking over a wall of pictures of the Israelis abducted by Hamas during its October 7 terrorist attack. (Photo credit: Jose Hernandez Camera 51/Shutterstock) Endnotes See also Alan Dershowitz, The Case for Israel (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & sons, 2003), 80–85. Dershowitz, The Case for Israel, 176–77. Ruth Marks Eglash, “Urban Warfare Expert says Israeli Military Taking Unprecedented Steps to Protect Gaza Civilians” Fox News, 17 February 17 2024, accessible at Fox News website. TOI Staff, “Poll Shows Soaring Palestinian Support for Hamas; 72% back October 7 Atrocities” 13 December 2023, accessible at the Times of India website. See Haggai Ben-Shammai, “Jew-Hatred in the Islamic Tradition and the Koranic Exegesis,” in Antisemitism Through the Ages, ed. Shmuel Almog (Oxford, UK: Pergamon Press, 1989), 164–66. For further reading Helpful resources for information found in this article include: Alan Dershowitz, The Case for Israel (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & sons, 2003), a defense by a Professor of Law, Emeritus, at Harvard University, of Israel’s rights, supported by indisputable evidence. He is however not an uncritical supporter of Israel. Most recently he also wrote War Against the Jews (2023). Joan Peters, From Time Immemorial: The Origins of the Arab-Jewish Conflict Over Palestine (New York, NY: Harper & Row, 1985), a classic compilation of the facts by a former White House consultant on the Middle East. Its publication was hailed as a historic event.  Top photo is a section of Gaza City after bombardment by Israeli forces. Photo credit: ImageBank4u/Shutterstock...


Saturday Selections – May 4, 2024

Did ancient cultures believe in a third gender? This is an interesting question, in as far as, what point would it prove if they did? Does our culture now believe that because something is traditional, is is right? If so, I have some other traditions to tell you about! Why you should go to sleep early tonight There are physical, emotional, and spiritual reasons too, for why you should be early to bed. Can a Christian be a lawyer? (15 min read / 25 min listen) The short answer is, yes, of course. The longer answer is, yes, but the job does come with some real challenges. Two celebrities talking about how disobeying God hurts Recently Joe Rogan and Oliver Anthony were chatting about how disobeying God's will for sex really messes people up. Anthony is a self-professed baby Christian, and Rogan is no Christian at all, so they aren't talking about this from a biblical perspective. They've just come to the realization that porn usage doesn't work. Theirs was a practical, pragmatic case, but an observant one. Sin really is stupid, and some people learn that the hard way. Others don't have to suffer through the pain that running into the brickwall of reality will cause you, and instead trust God's Wisdom as He's revealed it to us in His Word. What's the difference between venting and lamenting? One is sinful, the other godly, yet they share a lot of similarities. A moral case for capitalism If you have an economic system that respects property rights (i.e. the 8th Commandment), and doesn't covet what the wealthy have (10th Commandment), and doesn't look to the government as savior (Commandment #1), then what sort of economic system would you have? Well, it wouldn't be socialism, communism, or crony capitalism. What you'd be left with is the free market, aka, capitalism. And you'd be left with it, not because it has raised more people out of poverty than any other economic system, but because it is the system God proscribes. The prosperity that results is simply a blessing that comes with obeying our Heavenly Father. This gentleman below makes a different moral case for capitalism (and gets a few things wrong, going back 12,000 years, on a planet that's only been around for about half that) but brings in one more wrinkle that I did not... but which has a biblical parallel. He speaks of capitalism being the result of a society that has moved from "status to contract." In kingdoms and empires it is about who you know – if you are a friend of the emperor, you will prosper, but if he doesn't like you, you're in trouble. But when rules were elevated above the ruler, when even the king could be held accountable to the law, then we had a society built on agreements – contracts – rather than status. Though this gent doesn't describe it as such, that development has Christian roots. Christians understand that the most powerful king has always been accountable to God and His law. ...


Saturday Selections – April 27, 2024

Click the titles below to go to the linked articles... Strawman and other logical fallacies Here's a fun way to get our kids to really understand how logical fallacies can be used – deliberately or not – to misdirect and confuse discussions. Watch below, and click the title above for a list of fallacies (including the strawman) you can work with.   View this post on Instagram   A post shared by Brett Pike (@classicallearner) Horribly neglected patient "chooses" euthanasia A quadriplegic Quebec man, stuck on an emergency room stretcher for four days, developed a bed sore so bad it left bone exposed. After being denied even the bed he needed, Normand Meunier then "chose" to be euthanized. Having doctors murder patients is portrayed as compassion. What it really is, is cheap and easy. "Even the compassion of the wicked is cruel" (Prov. 12:10b). Are you financially literate? 5 questions to find out Christians are called to be good stewards of what God gives us but it isn't harder for some than others. Here's 5 questions to help you figure out where you are at. Why is teen anxiety on the rise? The author of Why is my Teenager Feeling Like This? shares 4 thoughts... Caring for the adopted child Our kids' frustrating misbehaviors will often be a matter of déjà vu for parents who recognize they acted similarly when they were kids. But adoptive parents can face the additional challenge of dealing with behaviors they haven't seen before, perhaps because of their children's very different history, or physiological repercussions that might have come from having an alcohol- or drug-addicted birth mom. So how can adoptive parents be sensitive to their child's different needs, without succumbing to the temptation of just excusing bad behavior? Two biblical counselors offer some helpful biblical advice. Global warming isn't making weather more extreme If you listen to David Suzuki, Al Gore, or Greta Thunburg, you'd have every reason to believe that global warming was causing an increasing number of, and severity of, droughts, floods, hurricanes, and forest fires. But a new study by the Fraser Institute says, it simply isn't so. Click on the title above for their report, or watch the video below for Dr. Judith Curry's take. And for why we might consider them both more credible than their more mainstream critics, see my "Catastrophic Global Warming? A brief biblical case for skepticism." ...


How much government is too much government?

In its recently released The Size of Government in 2022 report, the Fraser Institute detailed the levels of government spending across the country as a percentage of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP, or how much the country produced including both goods and services). Canada overall – counting all three levels of government, municipal, provincial, and federal combined – spent just under 41% of the country’s GDP. This is down from the 52% they spent during 2020, which was higher because of both the COVID spending that took place that year, as well as the 5.5% drop in GDP that occurred due to the lockdowns. The Fraser Institute report also broke things down by province… and the range was enormous. In three of the maritime provinces, the three levels of government combined to spend more than half of GDP – Prince Edward Island (58%), Nova Scotia (63%), and New Brunswick (58%) – while on the other end, Alberta’s spending was 6 percentage points lower than anyone else at 27% of GDP. So what’s the right size of government? The Fraser Institute suggests that the optimum level is somewhere between 26% and 35% of GDP, basing that on studies that say that gets you the most economic bang for the buck. However, the prophet Samuel, in his “warning against kings” (1 Sam. 8:10-18), cautioned that the king might presume to demand the same percentage as God Himself required, 10%. Our governments presume much more, starting with more than double that. Presumption is evidenced also when our government recognizes no boundaries on their involvement. Sometimes their overreach is enormous, as when they run education, a parental responsibility. And sometimes it is just ridiculous, as was on full display south of the border this last month, when the White House announced it was going to investigate the problem of “out of order” soft serve ice cream machines. Ironically, it might be a good thing for the government to look into this, as they may be the source of the problem. Government rules seem to be blocking anyone but the manufacturer from repairing the machines. When the government is involved in everything, then whenever there is a problem it’s almost certain they are a part of it. So whatever the right size of government might be, it’s smaller and less presumptuous than what we currently have....

Music, News

Taylor Swift’s explicit evolution

Last week, Taylor Swift released her 11th studio album, The Tortured Poets Department, comprised of 16 songs. Hours later, she dropped part two of the album consisting of another 15 songs called The Anthology, creating a double album. In this latest effort, Swift says the f-word more than her first ten albums combined – one Reddit user says, “If you extrapolate this data, five albums from now she will have to release an album that says roughly 24,000 times.” Swift’s earlier music had been known for clean pop love songs, her country music devoid of explicit language and even incorporating biblical themes, such as in her 2007 song “Christmas Must Be Something More,” where she sings, “So here's to Jesus Christ who saved our lives.” That made her a favorite of many parents. That said, even her 2006 self-titled debut album, with its focus on cheating boyfriends, and Taylor longing after another girl's boyfriend, wasn't kid-appropriate. However, her latest album takes a darker turn, featuring explicit sexualized language and blasphemous lyrics mocking Christ’s death and resurrection. In her song “Guilty as Sin,” she sings,  What if I roll the stone away? They’re gonna crucify me anyway What if the way you hold me is actually what’s holy?  Another song, “But Daddy I Love Him” bashes Christians, calling them: …the most judgmental creeps Who say they want what's best for me Sanctimoniously performing soliloquies I'll never see  The rest of the material can be seen through a long X thread that asks “Is this the music you want your kids listening to?” Young people are impressionable, so it’s crucial to be mindful of the messages they’re exposed to.  Despite the album’s title, Swift is not a tortured poet; rather, she is praised by millions of fans worldwide. With a significant influence, especially on young girls, Swift’s dark turn is one parents need to know about. This is not the Taylor Swift of ten or fifteen years ago. Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6)....


Saturday Selections – April 20, 2024

Painting without a license could soon be illegal in Minnesota Government growth is like the slowly rising temperature that eventually boils the frog in the pot alive – so long as the red tape grows only bit by small bit, we don't really protest. Here then, is a cup of cold water (or some sharp scissors if we're going with the tape metaphor) to shake things up and highlight how the government will regulate everything if we give them the chance. Christians should lead the resistance to growing government, since we understand that God didn't entrust our leaders with the responsibility of managing every aspect of citizens' lives. And we know that limited fallible human beings aren't up to the enormity of that task. 3 things a Christian should consider before serving in the military This short piece has an American focus but offers thoughts for Canadians to consider too. Since it was written in 2017, both nations' militaries have taken an ideological turn, so more could be said, which Aaron Renn does here. Today's music really is angrier, more egocentric A new study says it isn't just your imagination, Mom and Dad; song lyrics really are getting more repetitive, "me" and "mine" are popping up more often, and the tone of the lyrics has gotten angrier over the last 40 years. We're all Christian Nationalists now I prefer the term "Christian patriotism" to "Christian Nationalism" due to the latter's many conflicting definitions. But, as Larry Ball suggests, if we run with the definition of Christian Nationalism that the secular media is increasingly using – as Christians who think our rights come, not from the State, but from God Himself – then we are all Christian Nationalists now. What are the reasons disability exists? (10-minute read) AJ was struck with a progressive neurological disability that put him in a wheelchair as a young man. He had questions for God... and he went to Scripture to hear what God had to say. Were the Greek gods real? Douglas Wilson makes things clear with this "yes and no" answer. ...


Oregon abandons decriminalizing hard drugs

“America’s most radical experiment with drug decriminalization has ended, after more than three years of painful results,” The Atlantic reported in early April. Increased overdose deaths and “chaos in the streets” has the state of Oregon going back to criminalizing hard drugs. When the state decided to decriminalize drugs in 2020, 59 percent of voters supported it. Decriminalization advocates wanted to focus on a strategy of reducing the harm that drugs cause to users. Over $260 million was spent on services to help make this a reality. Three years later, 64 percent now want to go back, with support particularly strong among African American and Hispanic Oregonians. The New York Times reported that a wide range of officials supported a rollback in policy, citing surging homelessness, street protests, “an exodus of downtown businesses, record numbers of homicides, the rapid spread of fentanyl and soaring overdose deaths.” British Columbia followed Oregon’s lead by decriminalizing many hard drugs in 2023. Adults in possession of heroin, fentanyl, crack, meth, ecstasy, and some other hard drugs, so long as they are for personal use, will not be charged. This is an experiment being run until 2026. The province’s NDP government is already being criticized by mayors of smaller cities in the province who are reporting public disorder similar to what’s been experienced in Oregon. Yet BC is pressing on with its experiment. An underlying motivation for decriminalizing hard drugs and providing “safe supply” of drugs, even at the taxpayers’ expense, is the belief that drug problems will lessen if we ditch the stigma associated with drug use. If we stop treating it as shameful and immoral, then, so the argument goes, more people might seek treatment. But as Romans 7 teaches us, the law plays an important role “in order that sin might be recognized as sin.” Secular society may succeed in changing its laws to reduce the stigma of sin, but as we’re seeing in Oregon, making sin seem less sinful isn’t the answer. That will only serve to hold sinners in bondage further. What is needed is something that the law can never accomplish. “Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24-25)....


One step forward, two steps back in Online Harms bill

What do pornography and hate speech have in common? Well, the federal government says they are both harmful. That’s why they’ve wrapped these issues up together in their recently announced Online Harms Act, otherwise known as Bill C-63. As the government’s news release stated, “Online harms have real world impact with tragic, even fatal, consequences.” As such, the government is of the mind that the responsibility for regulating all sorts of online harm falls to them. But the approach of the government in Bill C-63, though it contains some good content, is inadequate. BACKGROUND In June 2021, the federal government introduced hate speech legislation focused on hate propaganda, hate crime, and hate speech. The bill was widely criticized, including in ARPA Canada’s analysis, and failed to advance prior to the fall 2021 election. Nonetheless, the Liberal party campaigned in part on a promise to bring forward similar legislation within 100 days of re-election. Over two years have passed since the last federal election. In the meantime, the government pursued a consultation and an expert panel on the topic of online harms. Based on these and feedback from stakeholders, the government has now tabled legislation combatting online harm more broadly. Bill C-63 defines seven types of “harmful content”: a) intimate content communicated without consent; b) content that sexually victimizes a child or revictimizes a survivor; c) content that induces a child to harm themselves; d) content used to bully a child; e) content that foments hatred; f) content that incites violence; and g) content that incites violent extremism or terrorism. The hate speech elements of Bill C-63 are problematic for Canadians’ freedom of expression. We will address those further on. But though the bill could be improved, it is a step in the right direction on the issue of child sexual exploitation. DIGITAL SAFETY OVERSIGHT If passed, part 1 of the Online Harms Act will create a new Digital Safety Commission to help develop online safety standards, promote online safety, and administer and enforce the Online Harms Act. A Digital Safety Ombudsperson will also be appointed to advocate for and support online users. The Commission will hold online providers accountable and, along with the Ombudsperson, provide an avenue for victims of online harm to bring forward complaints. Finally, a Digital Safety Office will be established to support the Commission and Ombudsperson. The Commission and Ombudsperson will have a mandate to address any of the seven categories of harm listed above. But their primary focus, according to the bill, will be “content that sexually victimizes a child or revictimizes a survivor” and “intimate content communicated without consent.” Users can submit complaints or make other submissions about harmful content online, and the Commission is given power to investigate and issue compliance orders where necessary. Social media services are the primary target of the Online Harms Act. The Act defines “social media service” as: “a website or application that is accessible in Canada, the primary purpose of which is to facilitate interprovincial or international online communication among users of the website or application by enabling them to access and share content.” Further clarification is provided to include: an adult content service, namely a social media service that is focused on enabling its users to access and share pornographic content; and a live streaming service, namely a social media service that is focused on enabling its users to access and share content by live stream. Oversight will be based on the size of a social media service, including the number of users. So, at the very least, the Digital Safety Commission will regulate online harm not only on major social media sites including Facebook, X, and Instagram, but also on pornography sites and live streaming services. Some specifics are provided in Bill C-63, but the bill would grant the government broad powers to enact regulations to supplement the Act. The bill itself is unclear regarding the extent to which the Commission will address online harm besides pornography, such as hate speech. What we do know is that the Digital Safety Commission and Ombudsman will oversee the removal of “online harms” but will not punish individuals who post or share harmful content. DUTIES OF OPERATORS Three duties laid out in Bill C-63 apply to any operator of a regulated social media service – for example, Facebook or Pornhub. The Act lists three overarching duties that operators of social media services must adhere to. 1. Duty to act responsibly The duty to act responsibly includes: mitigating risks of exposure to harmful content, implementing tools that allow users to flag harmful content, designating an employee as a resource for users of the service, and ensuring that a digital safety plan is prepared. This duty relates to harmful content broadly. Although each category of “harmful content” is defined further in the Act, the operator is responsible to determine whether the content is harmful. While it’s important for the Commission to remove illegal pornography, challenges may arise with the Commission seeking to remove speech that a user has flagged as harmful.  2. Duty to protect children The meaning of the duty to protect children is not clearly defined. The bill notes that: “an operator must integrate into a regulated service that it operates any design features respecting the protection of children, such as age-appropriate design, that are provided for by regulations.” This could refer to age-appropriate designs in the sense that children are not drawn into harmful content; it could refer to warning labels on pornography sites, or it could potentially require some level of age-verification for children to access harmful content. These regulations, however, will be established by the Commission following the passage of the Online Harms Act. The Liberal government says that its Online Harms Act makes Bill S-210 unnecessary. Bill S-210 would require age-verification for access to online pornography. In its current form, however, the Online Harms Act does nothing to directly restrict minors’ access to pornography. It would allow minors to flag content as harmful and requires “age-appropriate design” but would not require pornography sites to refuse access to youth. As such, ARPA will continue to advocate for the passage of Bill S-210 to restrict access to pornography and hold pornography sites accountable.  3. Duty to make certain content inaccessible Finally, Bill C-63 will make social media companies responsible for making certain content inaccessible on their platforms. This section is primarily focused on content that sexually victimizes a child or revictimizes a survivor and intimate content communicated without consent. ARPA has lauded provincial efforts in British Columbia and Manitoba to crack down on such content in the past year. If such content is flagged on a site and deemed to be harmful, the operators must make it inaccessible within 24 hours and keep it inaccessible. In 2020, Pornhub was credibly accused of hosting videos featuring minors. Additionally, many women noted that they had requested Pornhub to remove non-consensual videos of themselves and that Pornhub had failed to do so. At the time, ARPA Canada submitted a brief to the Committee studying sexual exploitation on Pornhub. Our first recommendation was that pornography platforms must be required to verify age and consent before uploading content. Second, we recommended that victims must have means for immediate legal recourse to have content removed from the internet. This duty to make content inaccessible will provide some recourse for victims to flag content and have it removed quickly. Further, the Commission will provide accountability to ensure the removal of certain content and that it remains inaccessible. The Act creates a new bureaucratic agency for this purpose rather than holding companies accountable through the Criminal Code. The Criminal Code is arguably a stronger deterrent. For example, Bill C-270, scheduled for second reading in the House of Commons in April 2024, would make it a criminal offence to create or distribute pornographic material without first confirming that any person depicted was over 18 years of age and gave express consent to the content. Bill C-270 would amend the Criminal Code to further protect vulnerable people. Instead of criminal penalties, the Online Harms Act would institute financial penalties for failure to comply with the legislation. Of course, given the sheer volume of online traffic and social media content and the procedural demands of enforcing criminal laws, a strong argument can be made that criminal prohibitions alone are insufficient to deal with the problem. But if new government agencies with oversight powers are to be established, it’s crucial that the limits of their powers are clearly and carefully defined and that they are held accountable to them. THE GOOD NEWS… This first part of the Online Harms Act contains some important attempts to combat online pornography and child sexual exploitation. As Reformed Christians, we understand that a lot of people are using online platforms to promote things that are a direct violation of God’s intention for flourishing in human relationships. This bill certainly doesn’t correct all those wrongs, but it at least recognizes that there is improvement needed for how these platforms are used to ensure vulnerable Canadians are protected. Most Canadians support requiring social media companies to remove child pornography or non-consensual pornography. In a largely unregulated internet, many Canadians also support holding social media companies accountable for such content, especially companies that profit from pornography and sexual exploitation. Bill C-63 is the government’s attempt to bring some regulation to this area. … AND NOW THE BAD NEWS But while some of the problems addressed through the bill are objectively harmful, how do we avoid subjective definitions of harm? Bill C-63 raises serious questions about freedom of expression. Free speech is foundational to democracy. In Canada, it is one of our fundamental freedoms under section 2 of the Charter. Attempts to curtail speech in any way are often seen as an assault on liberty. Bill C-63 would amend the Criminal Code and the Canadian Human Rights Act to combat hate speech online. But the bill gives too much discretion to government actors to decide what constitutes hate speech. HARSHER FOR “HATE SPEECH” CRIMES The Criminal Code has several offences that fall under the colloquial term “hate speech.” The Code prohibits advocating genocide, publicly inciting hatred that is likely to lead to a breach of the peace, or willfully promoting hatred or antisemitism. The latter offence is potentially broader, but it also provides several defenses, including: the statement was true the statement was a good faith attempt to argue a religious view the statement was about an important public issue meriting discussion and the person reasonably believed the statement was true Bill C-63 would increase the maximum penalties for advocating genocide and inciting or promoting hatred or antisemitism. The maximum penalty for advocating genocide would increase to life in prison instead of five years. The bill would also raise the penalty for publicly inciting hatred or promoting hatred or antisemitism to five years instead of the current two. Bill C-63 defines “hatred” as “the emotion that involves detestation or vilification and that is stronger than disdain or dislike.” It also clarifies that a statement does not incite or promote hatred “solely because it discredits, humiliates, hurts or offends.” This clarification is better than nothing, but it inevitably relies on judges to determine the line between statements that are merely offensive or humiliating and those that generate emotions of vilification and detestation. ARPA Canada recently intervened in a criminal hate speech case involving Bill Whatcott. Whatcott was charged with criminal hate speech for handing out flyers at a pride parade warning about the health risks of engaging in homosexual relations. Prosecutors argued that Whatcott was promoting hatred against an identifiable group by condemning homosexual conduct. This is an example of a person being accused of hate speech for expressing his beliefs – his manner of expressing those beliefs, but also the content of his beliefs. NEW STAND-ALONE HATE CRIME OFFENCE The Criminal Code already makes hatred a factor in sentencing. So, for example, if you assault someone and there is conclusive evidence that your assault was motivated by racial hatred, that “aggravating factor” will likely mean a harsher sentence for you. But the offence is still assault, and the maximum penalties for assault still apply. Bill C-63, however, would add a new hate crime offence – any offence motivated by hatred – to the Criminal Code, and it may be punishable by life in prison. It would mean that any crime found to be motivated by hatred would count as two crimes. Consider an act of vandalism, for example. The crime of mischief (which includes damaging property) has a maximum penalty of 10 years. But, if you damaged property because of hatred toward a group defined by race, religion, or sexuality, you could face an additional criminal charge and potentially life in prison. ANTICIPATORY HATE CRIMES? Bill C-63 would permit a person to bring evidence before a court based on fear that someone will commit hate speech or a hate crime in the future. The court may then order the accused to “keep the peace and be of good behavior” for up to 12 months and subject that person to conditions including wearing an electronic monitoring device, curfews, house arrest, or abstaining from consuming drugs or alcohol. There are other circumstances in which people can go to court for fear that a crime will be committed – for example, if you have reason to believe that someone will damage your property, or cause you injury, or commit terrorism. However, challenges with unclear or subjective definitions of hatred will only be accentuated when determining if someone will commit hate speech or a hate crime. BRINGING BACK SECTION 13 This is the first time the government has tried to regulate hate speech. The former section 13 of the Canada Human Rights Act prohibited online communications that were “likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt” on the basis of their race, religion, sexuality, etc. As noted by Joseph Brean in the National Post, section 13 was passed in 1977, mainly in response to telephone hotlines that played racist messages. From there, the restrictions around hate speech were extended to the internet (telecommunications, including internet, falls under federal jurisdiction) until Parliament repealed section 13 in 2013. Joseph Brean writes that section 13 “was basically only ever used by one complainant, a lawyer named Richard Warman, who targeted white supremacists and neo-Nazis and never lost.” In fact, Warman brought forward 16 hate speech cases and won them all. A catalyst for the controversy over human rights hate speech provisions was a case involving journalist Ezra Levant. Levant faced a human rights complaint for publishing Danish cartoons of Muhammad in 2006. In response to being charged, Levant published a video of an interview with an investigator from the Alberta Human Rights Commission. Then in 2007, a complaint was brought against Maclean’s magazine for publishing an article by Mark Steyn that was critical of Islam. Such stories brought section 13 to public attention and revealed how human rights law was being used to quash officially disapproved political views. Bill C-63 would bring back a slightly revised section 13. The new section 13 states: “It is a discriminatory practice to communicate or cause to be communicated hate speech by means of the Internet or any other means of telecommunication in a context in which the hate speech is likely to foment detestation or vilification of an individual or group of individuals on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination.” A few exceptions apply. For example, this section would not apply to private communication or to social media services that are simply hosting content posted and shared by users. So, for example, if someone wanted to bring a complaint about an ARPA post on Facebook, that complaint could be brought against ARPA, but not against Facebook. If a person is found guilty of hate speech, the Human Rights Tribunal may order the offender to pay up to $20,000 to the victim, and up to $50,000 to the government. This possibility of financial benefit incentivizes people to bring forward hate speech complaints. British Columbia has a similar hate speech provision in its Human Rights Code. ARPA wrote about how that provision was interpreted and enforced to punish someone for saying that a “trans woman” is really a man. The Tribunal condemned a flyer in that case for “communicat rejection of diversity in the individual self-fulfillment of living in accordance with one’s own gender identity.” The Tribunal went on to reject the argument that the flyer was not intended to promote hatred or discrimination, “but only to ‘bring attention to what views as immoral behaviour, based on his religious belief as a Christian’.” Ultimately, the Tribunal argued that there was no difference between promoting hatred and bringing attention to what the defendant viewed as immoral behavior. NO DEFENSES FOR CHRISTIANS? As noted above, when it comes to the Criminal Code’s hate speech offences, there are several defenses available (truth, expressing a religious belief, and advancing public debate). These are important defenses that allow Canadians to say what they believe to be true and to express sincere religious beliefs. But the Canadian Human Rights Act offers no defenses. And complaints of hate speech in human rights law are far easier to bring and to prosecute than criminal charges. Criminal law requires proof beyond reasonable doubt. But under the Human Rights Act, statements that are likely (i.e. 51% chance, in Tribunal’s view) to cause detestation or vilification will be punishable. So, hate speech would be regulated in two different places, the Criminal Code and the Human Rights Act, the latter offering fewer procedural rights and a lower standard of proof. Bill C-63 clarifies that a statement is not detestation or vilification “solely because it expresses disdain or dislike or it discredits, humiliates, hurts or offends.” But again, the line between dislike and detestation is unclear. Human rights complaints are commonly submitted because of humiliation or offence, rather than any clear connection to detestation or vilification. Section 13 leaves too much room for subjective and ideologically motivated interpretations of what constitutes hate speech. The ideological bias that often manifests is a critical theory lens, which sees “privileged” groups like Christians as capable only of being oppressors/haters, while others are seen as “equity-seeking” groups. For example, in a 2003 case called Johnson v. Music World Ltd., a complaint was made against the writer of a song called “Kill the Christian.” A sample: Armies of darkness unite  Destroy their temples and churches with fire  Where in this world will you hide  Sentenced to death, the anointment of christ   Put you out of your misery  The death of prediction  Kill the christian  Kill the christian…dead!  The Tribunal noted that the content and tone appeared to be hateful. However, because the Tribunal thought Christians were not a vulnerable group, it decided this was not hate speech. By contrast, in a 2008 case called Lund v. Boissoin, a panel deemed a letter to the editor of a newspaper that was critical of homosexuality to be hate speech. The chair of the panel was the same person in both Johnson and Lund. Hate speech provisions are potentially problematic for Christians who seek to speak truth about various issues in our society. Think about conversion therapy laws that ban talking about biblical gender and sexuality in some settings, or bubble zone laws that prevent pro-life expression in designated areas. But beyond that, freedom of speech is also important for those with whom we may disagree. It is important to be able to have public dialogue on various public issues.    GOVERNMENT’S ROLE IN REGULATING SPEECH This all raises serious questions about whether the government should be regulating “hate speech” at all. After all, hate speech provisions in the Human Rights Act or the Criminal Code have led and could lead to inappropriate censorship. But government also has a legitimate role to play in protecting citizens from harm.  1. Reputational harm and safety from threats of violence Arguably the government’s role in protecting citizens from harm includes reputational harm. Imagine someone was spreading accusations in your town that everyone in your church practices child abuse, for example. That is an attack on your reputation as a group and as individual members of the group – which is damaging and could lead to other harms, possibly even violence. Speech can do real damage. But Jeremy Waldron, a prominent legal philosopher and a Christian, suggests that the best way to think about and enforce “hate speech” laws is as a prohibition on defaming or libeling a group, similar to how our law has long punished defaming or libeling an individual. Such a conception may help to rein in the scope of what we call “hate speech,” placing the focus on demonstrably false and damaging accusations, rather than on controversial points of view on matters relating to religion or sexuality, for example. Hatred is a sin against the 6th commandment, but the government cannot regulate or criminalize emotions per se or expressions of them, except insofar as they are expressed in and through criminal acts or by encouraging others to commit criminal acts. That’s why we rightly have provisions against advocating or inciting terrorism or genocide, or counseling or encouraging someone to commit assault, murder, or any other crime. When the law fails to set an objective standard, however, it is open to abuse – for example, by finding a biblical view of gender and sexuality to constitute hate speech. Regrettably, Bill C-63 opens up more room for subjectivity and ideologically based restrictions on speech. It does nothing to address the troubling interpretations of “hate speech” that we’ve seen in many cases in the past. And, by putting hate speech back into the Human Rights Act, the bill makes many more such abuses possible. We suspect it will result in restricting speech that is culturally unacceptable rather than objectively harmful.  2. Harm of pornography As discussed earlier, Bill C-63 does introduce some good restrictions when it comes to online pornography. In our view, laws restricting pornography are categorically different from laws restricting “hate speech,” because the former laws are not designed to or in danger of being applied to censor beliefs, opinions, or arguments. Restricting illegal pornography prevents objectively demonstrable harm. Pornography takes acts that ought to express love and marital union and displays them for consumption and the gratification of others. Much of it depicts degrading or violent behavior. Pornography’s harms, especially to children, are well documented. The argument is often made that pornography laws risk censoring artistic expression involving sexuality or nudity. But Canada is very far, both culturally and legally, from censoring art for that reason – and Bill C-63 wouldn’t do so. Its objectives as they relate to pornography are mainly to reduce the amount of child pornography and non-consensual pornography easily available online.  CONCLUSION While the Online Harms Act contains some good elements aimed at combatting online pornography, its proposed hate speech provisions are worrisome. Unfortunately, the federal government chose to deal with both issues in one piece of legislation – this should have been two separate bills. As Bill C-63 begins to progress through the House of Commons, we can continue to support Bills S-210 and C-270, private members’ bills which combat the online harms of pornography. Meanwhile, head to for action items related to the Online Harms Act. ...

Indigenous peoples, News

Private property rights finally planned for Indigenous British Columbians

Few Canadians realize that the majority of Indigenous peoples in BC aren’t allowed to own land like everyone else can. They are shackled by the federal Indian Act, first passed in 1876, which forbids private property ownership for Indigenous people living on reserves. Instead on-reserve housing is provided, with the houses owned by the Crown and controlled by band councils. That may be changing in British Columbia. On April 2, the province introduced Bill 13 to specify that First Nations who are recognized by the federal government as Indian Act bands will finally have the legal ability to register and own land. This is a very different attempt at reconciliation than what the same government recently attempted with a plan to allow First Nations to co-manage all public lands in the province. If brought to fruition, such a change would effectively hand over veto power to First Nations for how most of the province is used. But Bill 13 is fundamentally different. In their press release, the government lauded how the proposed changes “reduce discriminatory and racist barriers.” They are right, though questions remain as to how it will apply to individual members of the many First Nations. It also remains a question how this legislation would align with the federal Indian Act. Private property rights for all people, regardless of race, is both biblical and an important ingredient for human flourishing. As ARPA Canada shared in one of its first policy reports, on the broader topic of aboriginal affairs, “property rights are essential for economic productivity and thereby have a direct impact on employment rates, which in turn impacts the living standards, housing conditions, health, and morale of an entire community.” God established private property as a right and codified it in the 8th Commandment “you shall not steal.” Owning land is an important step for creating employment and wealth, while instilling responsibility and stewardship. Given that reserves are owned by the government, there is little surprise that the housing conditions are often deplorable. For far too long, Canada’s federal and provincial governments have focused on handing out more money and more blame, rather than allowing Indigenous peoples the same opportunities and responsibilities as all other peoples....


Saturday Selections – April 13, 2024

Click on the titles below to go to the linked articles... If people did everything as a trick shot Evolutionists have no explanation for the origin of life Christian chemist James Tours has been challenging "origin of life" researchers to put up or shut up. He has offered to take down all his published videos and never speak on the topic again, if only someone will show how they are making any real progress in explaining how life could come from non-life (as evolution would require). Tours did get a chance to debate, but under hilarious conditions. He agreed that after his 20-minute talk, that in the dinner discussions that followed, he would not talk at all unless asked a question, and if interrupted, he would stop talking. The linked article and video are not an easy read or watch, but even the gist of it underscores how the opposition isn't guided by the science, but by their ideology. Though the science shows that life can't come from non-life (scientists can't even create life on purpose, let alone explain how it could happen by chance), the scientific establishment still clings to the notion that it must have, because they need it to have done so to justify their rebellion against God. Euthanasia as a cost-saver for public healthcare Luc Van Gorp, head of Belgian's biggest health care fund, Christian (?!?) Mutualities is saying the quiet part out loud – they could save a lot of money if they murdered their old people. Once murder is medicine, it becomes quite the attractive treatment: cheaper and quicker than anything else. In related news, Belgium has lightened the penalties for "illegal euthanasia." It will no longer be treated as murder. They did it because if doctors had to fear getting charged with murder every time they murdered someone without following the approved procedures, then there might be less doctors willing to murder people. So one way to save lives here in Canada might be to ensure that "illegal euthanasia" is treated as murder. Maybe we can scare bloodthirsty, but self-preservation-seeking "doctors" from this line of business. How is our economy really doing?  The Fraser Institute argues that while Canada had one of the better expansions of its economy compared to other G7 countries, the real picture is horrible when you consider just how much the population increased. So they are pitching a better measure than just GDP – GDP adjusted for population. Big surprise for me here is that two Liberal PMs – Chretien and Martin – did better by this measure than the last two Conservatives. Atheist Richard Dawkins likes Christian culture Dawkins might be the world's most famous atheist, and he made news last week for praising Christian culture: "If I had to choose between Christianity and Islam, I’d choose Christianity every single time. It seems to me to be a fundamentally decent religion in a way that I think Islam is not." But as John Stonestreet notes, you can't have Christian fruit without the Root. The strange truth about the pill The birth control pill was embraced because it enabled sex outside of marriage by separating sex from conception. But as this BBC article highlights, the pill's nine different hormones come with side effects, some of which "have subtle 'masculinizing' effects." Identifying misinformation (5 min) In an online world awash with misinformation, here are three simple ways to identify what's not true. ...


Saturday Selections – April 6, 2024

Click on the titles below to go to the linked articles... Quite the fish story! (8 min) How do salmon find their back to where they were first spawned? Elon Musk gets folks talking about problems with the Pill Of the many gods in the world, unfettered sex is among the biggest. So it shouldn't surprise us that information that might hinder worship of that god could get pushed to the side. That's what's happened with the side effects of the birth control pill, which largely seem to be unknown. Christians should be aware of one that's not touched on in this article – the third action the Pill can have, of being an abortifacient. J.K. Rowling uses her influence to fight Scottish "hate law" J.K. Rowling might be best known for popularizing witchcraft in her bestselling Harry Potter series and normalizing homosexuality by declaring a principal character, Dumbledore, gay. But this past week she made headlines for her stand against a new Scottish "hate law" that could be used as a weapon against anyone who says men aren't women. So, Rowling did just that, on Twitter. And she promised: “If they go after any woman for simply calling a man a man, I’ll repeat that woman’s words and they can charge us both at once.” Canadian man wants a set of both genitalia A Canadian man says that Canada's anti-conversion therapy law means the government has to pay for him to get both sets of genitalia. He might win his case, but he won't get a "vagina." What he'd get amounts to an open wound that he'll have to dilate weekly or even daily for the rest of his life, lest it heal up. Sadly, his isn't the only experiment being performed in the name of trans affirmation. Surgeons are leaving folks looking like Barbie dolls, with no genitalia at all. The silver lining? The world is starting to get horrified too, but they don't really have a basis to be. So, brothers and sisters, this craziness is an opportunity to point them to the reality, sanity, and salvation that comes only with repenting and believing in Jesus Christ through whom we were made male and female. Sweden had the lowest mortality in Europe from 2020–2022 Sweden didn't do the lockdowns like the rest of the world, and the "experts" said they were going to pay a high cost for it. But, Sweden didn't. How do I respond if I'm asked to state my pronouns? Greg Koukl explains why we should never "give our pronouns" and how we can use questions to steer the conversation in our direction. ...

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