The Canadian government is planning to help a fundamentalist Christian group, Youth for Christ, to proselytize. They’ve offered to contribute several million dollars to the construction of a youth center in downtown Winnipeg, which sounds like a wonderful, useful idea…except for the fact that the group building it has this as their mission:
To impact every young person in Canada with the person, work and teachings of Jesus Christ and discipling them into the Church.
They also openly admit to their plans:
Sharing the person of Christ with every young person within our target group in Canada (5.4 million youth). This will require the development of new strategies, as well as strengthening existing efforts.
So, sure, anyone can come on down and freely use their skate park, their gym, their various services, and they don’t need to be Christian. It would be especially great if they aren’t Christian, because they will be met by a team of cheerful youth pastors who will tell them all about the glory of Jesus while they work out or play. That’s the whole purpose of the facility — not to provide a healthy recreational outlet for kids, but to corral the unconverted in one place for easy predation by a coven of kooks out to win over their minds.
Here’s another nice twist to the story, too.
Roughly one in 100 youths contacted by the organization — 17,010 out of 154,192 — “responded to the opportunity to become a Christian,” said the report, which identified “the aboriginal youth community” as a “prime area for development.”
It’s not just those cranky atheists who are outraged at the funneling of money into Christian evangelism — it’s an ethnic issue, and Youth for Christ knows it.
The Christian youth centre in a primarily aboriginal neighbourhood stirs up thoughts of historical assimilation, some First Nations leaders told councillors.
Nahanni Fontaine, director of justice for the Southern Chiefs Organization, an advocacy group for First Nations people in southern Manitoba, said giving public money to the project would be like contributing to the contemporary version of residential schools under the guise of helping youth.
“[We] saw religion used as an abusive and violating mechanism in which to assimilate aboriginal children into Euro-Canadian mainstream,” she said.
“Aboriginal people were assured that these sort of infringing practices and strategic policies would never occur again.”
Approving this proposal would just be sanctifying a “more contemporary form of the residential school experience,” Fontaine said.
That is serious stuff. People seem to have forgotten what we, Canada and the US, were doing a bit over a century ago: we were actively ripping children away from their native parents and boarding them up in schools where they were taught the White Man’s Ways, which usually involved religion in some way or another. My own university (which is celebrating its history this year) had its beginnings as a native American boarding school, run by an order of Catholic nuns. That’s not something to be proud of, but a stigma to be overcome. Why would Winnipeg want to be afflicted with a new racist black mark on their history?