Friday, 8 June 2012

Time to Stand Up for Crandall

With the renewed controversy in the media surrounding the “Statement of Moral Standards” of Crandall University, we considered it necessary to voice our position as a supporting organization.
We are not only not anti-gay, we are not anti-anybody. Our church’s mission is based on the idea that people matter to God – all people – all people of all backgrounds, colours, ethnicities, and sexual orientation. The mat at every door reads, “Welcome.”  And, for 250 years we have opened the doors to the full array of humanity that touches the Tantramar region, and hundreds have come to learn the teachings of Jesus. So, to suggest that we are anti-gay, or that we check any kind of issue at the door is simply not true. Just ask the people on various life journeys in our community who have been welcomed here each week.
Now, what is true, is that we challenge homosexuals and heterosexuals to live out the sexual ethics taught in the Scriptures, which encourages full sexual expression between a man and a woman in the context of marriage, and prescribes sexual abstinence and purity for everybody else.
But, even as we challenge all of our people to these biblical standards, we seek to do so with grace-filled spirit, knowing the confusion and brokenness that is rampant in our fallen world. And, at Middle Sackville we honour the journey of everyone who is sincerely attempting to follow Christ. So, it’s unfortunate that some have chosen to attack Crandall U. and its supporters for being anti-gay.
I am also concerned by the propensity to attack any group publically without dialogue. We see this foremost in politics and it makes for strained relationships. Jesus taught and modeled a better way – to treat everybody with respect; to believe the best about others; to seek to understand those with whom we might disagree; and, if we must disagree, to attempt to do so respectfully. We acknowledge our own guilt in not always being like Jesus in this way.
Our desire is to respond in genuine Christian love and say that our church is open to anybody, and we would like to have everyone visit us some day. We all need to be willing to talk with a gracious spirit and see if we can come to a better understanding of what it means to live with respect in the midst of differing points of view. Attacks on either side based largely on prejudice and emotion, are at best unhelpful. 
As for the issue of government funding, every faith-based organization in Canada, of every description, has rights to hold to certain beliefs and operate according to those beliefs. Every one of them also benefit from tax dollars in one way or another. These are taxes paid by adherents to these religious groups as well as the general public. Governments support a variety of causes and special-interest groups, and some of those causes we may not personally support. This is part of our democracy and freedom of religion as stated in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The decision of Moncton City Council to issue financial grants is based on their perceived return on their investment, which is their responsibility as community managers. We trust tolerance of differing views will triumph before some seek an end to our rights and freedoms.


  1. Thank you, Vernon, for this post. Well said and well-timed.

  2. Hi Vernon, great post and well-written. Middle Sackville has always been a welcoming place and its focus on outreach to the community has brought many folks through its doors to receive love and healing. Keep up the great work! I always say how great my church is back in Canada - there is something special there and it is a wonderful place of community and belonging.

  3. Good morning Sir,
    As a legally married lesbian in BC I object to your interpretation of Scripture. Could you possibly point me to where in scripture it specifically prescribes "abstinence and purity" for my wife and I within our marriage before God and the state.
    Thank you for 'enlightening' me.

    1. The issue as I see it is the freedom of religion to interpret their scriptures, not whether we all agree on that interpretation. Muslims only hire Muslim male Imams, Catholics only hire single men, and that's their right. And, they all receive government benefits. Crandall should have the same prerogatives as well, being a religipous institution. And the respective governments are elected by the people to make these funding decisions. The next move is to target every religious group and totally remove all freedoms and/or benefits unless they agree with one particular interest-group's opinion.

    2. I don't think anyone here objects to your legal status as married in the eyes of the government. The issue and argument here is should the government be allowed to step in and tell the various churches that they have to perform marriages they object to based on their interpretation of Scripture. Some churches won't marry heterosexual couples that don't meet their interpretations of the scripture as well. For instance some won't marry Divorced people. Some won't marry their members to people from other denominations (Catholics up until recently demanded a non catholic partner become a catholic before the ceremony be performed.) The question here is just because it's legal does it give someone the right to overturn someone else's rights. Would you picket the Black Entertainment awards for not allowing Asians and Caucasians to participate? Right now in our culture we enjoy a great deal of tolerance towards peoples lifestyles and that's great. But you need to be wary of the tyranny of the majority. If the majority of people believe something is right and take away from the rights of another group, what's to say the majority won't change it's mind in the future. Better to be tolerant of different views.

  4. The School holds its policy based on it's best interpretation of Scripture. There can be a debate to be had, other-wise it wouldn't be an issue. I am not stating my belief in this matter about the School's policy I am simply pointing out that tax dollars go where they go. I pay taxes as a pastor who does not believe abortion should be legal (I am not debating this here just stating what I believe.) But I know that some of the money that I contribute will go to that work. So, based on what I believe I should be getting petitions signed and making a stink about where that money is going. Would that make a difference? No, it wouldn't. So, I choose, maybe ignorantly, to believe that the tax dollars I spend every year go to institutions like Crandall U and not the things that I don't like. I have the utmost respect for the school and I know the school does a lot for keeping people in this city so to remove funding from it would be a misstep.

  5. We should also be pretty clear that we are talking about a tiny sum of money. CU is, by and large, self supporting. This does not make what anyone does inherently right because there can be self-supporting institutions -- say, racist organisations -- that are rotten, but it does mean that much of the to do about CU is overblown if the concern is state money.

    But, from a liberal democratic perspective, those who argue again CU getting money from the state miss a big point: do we want the government imposing a religious means test for funding? I suspect that there are those in the current federal government who would be quite happy with this and the Bush, Jr. govt did something similar with regard to aid to combat that AIDS epidemic in Africa. It is easy to be in favour of a religious means test when your particular views (believe, agnostic, etc.) seem to be those favoured by government but establishing the precedent that grant requests should be evaluated, at least in part, on the basis of the applicants spiritual believes is problematic and potentially scary.