Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Youth For Christ - Christians receiving public funding
Below, please find an article I wrote that was published in the Winnipeg Sun on Feb. 22, 2010
Martin Nixes Cash for Christ
Pat Martin would have us believe that the right society is the one where ‘fundamentalist Christians’ are excluded from government funding. In particular, he does not want Youth For Christ to be given any government assistance because they tell young people about Jesus.
By labeling YFC as a group that preys on ‘vulnerable, impressionable kids’, Pat Martin is demonstrating a disdain for Christians. He tries to appear as a moderate when he says that “Sally Ann and others have been doing a great job for years. But these people (YFC) are evangelical fundamentalists.” We might do well to consider why Sally Ann is called the Salvation Army. And trying to separate “Christians” from “evangelical fundamentalists” is a false notion. You’re either a follower of Jesus or you’re not.
Martin doesn’t want tax dollars used to convert people to Christ. But if Martin wants to call YFC a place that lures in young prospects with sports then he has to show that YFC represents a clear and present danger to society by exposing youth to Christ. If he can’t do that, then his attack is unsubstantiated and he should withdraw it.
So then why do some Christian organizations go to the government for money? Why not do it all on their own without government help the way Pat Martin wants them to?
Because there are points where government and YFC share common ground. They both want at-risk youth to have a safe drop in centre where they can make friends.
Martin hopes every level of government will unite in his battle against YFC. But ironically, Martin may have helped Youth for Christ’s cause. What he intended for harm has been turned around for good. Many people have now become aware of YFC’s goal to build hope in the inner city. His comments may even aid the fundraising campaign.
I challenge Pat Martin to sit down with staff at YFC – people who could be working at other jobs but choose to dedicate themselves to loving people in the inner city. I challenge him to meet youth who attend YFC functions and determine if they are being helped.
I don’t have a problem with politicians debating how or if to separate faith and public funds. That’s called democracy. But to attack a reputable organization in a spirit of condescension is not acceptable. The NDP should call him on this.
I drive past the proposed building site at the corner of Main and Higgins every day on the way into work. I also pass by Siloam Mission, Salvation Army and Union Gospel Mission where I used to volunteer. Are people who use these services being lured in by food, shelter, clothing, safety and the love of volunteers?
So what should Pat Martin do now?
He should call John Courtney of Youth For Christ and get together for coffee. Say at the Ellice Café that Harry Lehotsky started. I mean that sincerely. They should sit in the dream place of an inner city champion and discuss how Christians have succeeded in helping people in need.
And how Christians can, in fact, put public money to public good use
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