Earlier today, Canada's Public Safety Minister, the Honourable Vic Toews, announced that all non-Christian chaplains in federal penitentiaries would have their contracts cancelled and that all chaplaincy services would be provided by the remaining Christian chaplains.
The following is my email to Vic Toews, with copies to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair, and my local Member of Parliament, Tom Lukiwski.
As a Christian and as a priest, I am writing to object in the strongest possible terms to your frankly bigoted decision to eliminate all non-Christian chaplains from Canada’s prisons.
In announcing this decision, you properly state that it is not and should not be the government’s place to pick and choose among religions, yet it appears you are too addled to realize that this is precisely what you have done.
What other religious tests do you intend to introduce in so arbitrary a fashion? Will you start banning Christian clergy from denominations which don’t hew to your personal views on abortion or capital punishment or human sexuality? Will United Church or Anglican chaplains be the next to be banned because they do not conform to your religious practices?
If a state with a predominantly Muslim population had arbitrarily axed Christian chaplains, you and your colleagues would be shrieking blue murder. It appears you need to be reminded what Jesus had to say about hypocrites.
Father Malcolm French
[contact information provided]Ironically, Mr. Toews is a Mennonite whose family came to Canada to escape religious persecution.