Faith Column: Church and state and prison

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5 Responses

  1. Andrew Cuckow says:

    I’m guessing you forgot to mention the inconvenient conclusion at the end of the Globe and Mail article that it appears you borrowed for the column. Vic Toews or the government did not put a halt to any other religious facilitators entering prisons to service inmates, he only cut those from the budget that weren’t being requested. The decision only cut part time chaplains, not even full timers and 2,500 volunteers are still available to service inmates.
    As you have insinuated, if the majority government really wanted to press Christianity on the country, don’t you think they would find a better way to do it than to push religion on the group of people they are trying to be tougher on? Vic Toews hasn’t banned all other chaplains or volunteers, he’s just cut funding for what isn’t in demand, trying to respect the funds given by tax payers.
    This leads to a weightier issue for a faith column such as the contradiction of a paid ministry. Paul in Titus 1:11 and Peter in 1 Peter 5:2 show the early apostles contempt for those who preach for money. An interesting discussion would be on whether or not chaplains or preachers or Sunday School teachers should be paid at all. Or perhaps the observation that members of a faith-Christian or otherwise-are not visiting inmates themselves and ministering to those in prison. Maybe in the name of journalistic research you could find and interview one of those 2,500 volunteer chaplains who visit prisoners and find out why they do it and the spiritual rewards they find.
    There’s got to be something more productive to do with a faith column than rehash Globe and Mail articles with your own slant.

  2. James Wilt says:

    You want to talk about the Conservatives “trying to respect the funds given by tax payers”? How about scrapping the $25 billion order for unproven fighter jets? Or how about the $19 billion that it’s going to cost to implement the completely illogical Bill C-10? Or how about the $28 dropped on celebrating the War of 1812?

    Put this in perspective, Andrew. It costs hardly anything to have these chaplains available and serving prisoners who want it. The quote about the chaplains not being requested was stated by director of communications for Toews. Right. How about this quote: “Advocate D.J. Larkin, of the Office of Prisoners’ Legal Services in Abbotsford, B.C., said that so far, she’s heard complaints about the cuts from more than 30 prisoners. We’re being contacted daily by clients who are feeling completely devastated, they’re demoralized,” Larkin told CBC News.”

    Perhaps you’re not familiar with columns, but it’s not my job to interview. That’s for news, features and other sections (which I do plenty of for other outlets). Columns are all about “slant,” and commenting on ongoing events. And, by the way, my source for information was indeed the Globe & Mail. And the CBC. And the National Post. I do plenty of “journalistic research” for my columns, and for the stories I write for other publications. Thanks for caring, though.

  3. Andrew says:

    Over 30 complaints out of 15000 inmates across the country? That’s 0.2%. The crux of the issue isn’t religious favouritism, it’s over paid clergy. When a minister of a religion (referred to by whatever name they prefer, priest, chaplain, rabbi) offers there service for a fee, they become a marketable product, not a spiritual service. And a marketable product is subject to supply and demand factors, rather than spiritual need (I’m sure you could find 0.2% of a population that was devastated over a lack of 8 track tape players). To separate church and state it should not become the responsibility of the state to provide religious service to any of its population. The responsibility rests with the denomination. Unless I have missed something, there is nothing preventing the laid off part time clergy of other faiths of visiting members of their faith in prison out of selflessness. If clergy are going to refuse to provide service on the grounds of not being paid, then that’s shallow on their part. The argument could then be made that it would be unfair to pay one denomination’s clergy and not the others. The solution should be to pay none of them. By paying for any clergy of any kind you increase the relationship between church and state instead of keeping it at arms length.

  4. James Wilt says:

    Alright then, so what’s your grand plan to dismantle the system of paid clergy?

    Let’s get real here. Everything has become a commodifiable product, from sex to homeless shelters to religion. That’s how capitalism work. Unfortunately, not everyone has the time of day to visit inmates on their own time, because many people have to work more than one job to keep up in this economy.

    So you want to talk about destroying the relationship between church and state? Start talking about the economic system that perpetuates it. It’s lovely to talk conceptually about what might could be, but it doesn’t quite work like that in the real world. I agree, in theory, that clergy shouldn’t be paid, but I’m not much of a fan of money in general.

  5. Andrew says:

    My proposal would be to not pay any public dollars for any religious clergy. There are 2,500 volunteer chaplains that are serving inmates, that’s a good start. The appeal of prisoners shouldn’t be to the government, it should be to the members of their faith to reach out to them.
    There are religions, Christian and otherwise that are run by a lay ministry. There are people committed enough to their faith to participate in it without a profit motive, and to them their religion hasn’t become a commercial product.

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