There are things we let slide that can build themselves up into a kind of bulwark against the good fraternity of our Federal leaders. So let me call attention to the bellicosity and potential security threat of a certain ‘sect’.
As it happened, a few months ago, our well-advised Canadian Revenue Agency reached out to the Canadian Mennonite Magazine, sending them a letter reminding them of their registered charitable status (well, perhaps they had forgotten), and how that status imposes some very reasonable limits around political advocacy. Meaning: the Tax Act generously allows charities to engage in some…just not too much, political activity. Certainly, what it doesn’t allow—here citing section ought, sub-section ought-ought—is partisan political activity. Any reasonable cap-in-hand Canadian will see the fairness in this.
In any case, this was all respectfully outlined in a tidy letter from Mr. Paul E. Fournier, CRA audit officer. Now Mr. Fournier, not wanting to make an issue, and in the spirit of good will, thinking a gentle reminder of the laws of our land would suffice, and I’m sure not wanting to embarrass the Mennonites—as the Tax office is acutely aware of what losing face entails—omitted any specific examples of wrong doing. All well and good he thought.
Well, the Mennonites with legendary explosive bluster engaged Mr. Fournier, phoned him, in the middle of the day, demanding proof, specifics.
And here I again commend the restraint of the CRA; for Mr. Fournier reluctantly itemized, in another tidy letter, as many as two egregious editorials and four law-flouting articles:
The two editorials were written by a Mr. Dick Benner (we believe that is his real name). One, in April of 2011, called readers to “Vote your Core Beliefs.” and went on…, “While we won’t endorse candidates of the five political parties in the upcoming election, or tell you how to vote, we do ask you as Mennonite voters to both examine the political views and voting records of candidates regarding our deeply held core beliefs in peace-making, compassion for the poor and care for creation before placing your ballot in the ballot box.”
Beyond the obvious veiled reigning in the Menno hoards from sea to sea, you can see how this kind of potential vote blockade, reeking of partisan political activity, had to be addressed by our conciliatory Tories.
If this was not troubling enough, in yet another editorial, titled “A Political Lament” (May 16, 2011), Mr. Benner (we could not confirm this was the same man) wrote that he was, “saddened by two political events of the past ten days in two North American countries—the take-out of Osama bin Laden by the U.S. military and the take-over by a militaristic Conservative majority government in Monday’s election in Canada.”
And it gets worse: the apparent brain-washing of Mennonite youth surely leaves the mind reeling. For among the articles cited, from a section called Young Voices came these: “Political Issues for a young electorate,” (Oct. 3, 2011) by Aaron Epp, “Jack Layton inspires young people to vote for change,” (Sept. 19, 2011) by Rachel Bergen, “Planes for Peace,” (Aug. 1, 2011) by Emily Loewen, and “MCC calls on feds to seriously rethink Bill C-10,” (Nov. 14, 2011) by Rachel Bergen.
Well you can see how the CRA, acting upon a no doubt renitent complaint by the Federal government, who for our benefit monitors such subversive magazines as Canadian Mennonite, needed to rise to this kind of fomenting before it spread into other such organizations, churches, what have you.
And now you have to wonder at the Mennonites, such acerbic braggadocio and apostate haste, how after four short months they splashed Mr. Fournier’s letter all over a back page on their website. Hoping, I’m sure, to kindle some kind of rebellion. Remember, they call themselves pacifists.
And now consider this: In a written response to the congenial Paul Fournier (He has the same name as the Apostle) about his gentle reminder, Benner (if that’s his real name) blasted the CRA audit officer, “…it is our intent to obey the law and to operate within the guidelines set forth in these documents despite some differences we may have in their interpretation.” …Yes and just what might these differences be? Benner (no doubt an alias) of course refuses to be specific. The kettle blackens.
Well, Mr. Benner, Mr. Epp, Ms. Loewen, and Ms. Bergen you would do better to go back to your enclaves, hold your potlucks and stick to preaching the gospel, instead of making forays into the realms of social justice, peace and war, poverty and care of the earth. Our government has these well in hand thank you. It’s their domain.
Just go back and be a proper church. Now, not that our feal Federal government would entertain this, it’s just me saying—but there was a very fine model, south of the border, that our administration could legitimately draw upon: perhaps you’ll recall Joseph McCarthy?