Tuesday, December 28, 2010

20 years ago: Government of Canada bars hundreds of delegates from world congress of International Council of Christian Churches

Another item from the backlog that should have been posted months ago (warning--lengthy post ahead): In August 1990, the International Council of Christian Churches, which had been founded in 1948 to counter the liberalism and apostasy of the World Council of Churches, held its 13th World Congress in Vancouver, British Columbia, only to find that more than half of the expected 1,200 delegates had been barred from entering the country by the Government of Canada, ostensibly for fear that they would try to illegally remain in Canada. This was, of course, nonsense; these delegates were pastors of congregations in their homelands, who would not have abandoned their people, and had always returned home after attending ICCC congresses in various countries in years past.
At the same time that the Canadian federal government, under Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and Employment and Immigration Minister Barbara McDougall, barred Bible-believing Christians from attending the ICCC congress in Vancouver, this same government allowed 7,000 sodomite activists, carrying who-knows-what diseases, into Vancouver to promote their ungodly lifestyle.

Carl McIntire, President of the ICCC, told the story in the Christian Beacon, September 6, 1990:

Canadian Gov’t Sabotages ICCC Vancouver Congress:
More than 600 delegates, a majority of those expected, were forbidden admission to Canada by consulates and embassies around the world. Congress strongly reacted; local citizen filed complaint with Human Rights Commission. McIntire appeals to Mulroney and Bush

By Carl McIntire

The International Council of Christian Churches’ 13th Congress had the shock of its 42-year history when it assembled on the campus of the University of British Columbia, where the World Council of Churches met seven years ago. As the brethren arrived to participate, representing their churches, it became clear that the Canadian consulates had vetoed the Congress. They denied visas to hundreds from third-world and other countries.

The local press picked up the story and featured it, with Vancouver’s largest paper, The Sun, heading its report, "Fundamentalists Want Damage From Ottawa," on August 18.

Day after day the Congress assembled in the large gymnasium bedecked with flags on three sides, prepared for a delegation of 1200 or more. It was less than half full, the smallest Congress since the beginning in 1948.

As the story and reports unfolded, the Council charged that it was World Council of Churches’ interests in the Canadian consulates that blocked the delegates from coming.

A lengthy appeal, "A Call for Help," was unanimously adopted after hearing the testimonies of those who were able to get there after much difficulty. The local committee, headed by Wayne Poley, who had handled other Canadian Human Rights Commission complaints, stepped forward and initiated the complaint against the Canadian Government. On the opening night the Council had to pay $13,500 for empty beds which were reserved and which men could not enter the country and occupy.

A communication was sent to the Prime Minister by Dr. McIntire and also President Bush and U.S. Secretary of State Baker. This document together with communications and supplements filed with the Prime Minister and President Bush are here reproduced.

To our knowledge nothing like this has happened before in relation to any religious organization meeting in the western world.

A Call for Help and for Religious Freedom
The 13th World Congress of the International Council of Christian Churches, meeting on the campus of the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, August 8-16, 1990, has been afflicted in a manner that had never been anticipated. More than 600 delegates and participants who were scheduled to come from abroad and take part in this Congress were denied admission to Canada by that country’s withholding visas for them to enter. This constituted more than half of the expected attendance...

When the ICCC decided at its 12th Congress in Cape Canaveral, Florida, to come to Canada, it was believed that church representatives from more than 100 nations in which they maintain ICCC membership would be able to come. The indication given by the top officials in Ottawa was that they would give their full cooperation to this end. As it has now turned out from the reports that have been coming in from country after country, the Canadian Embassy refused to give visas except to a very few.

That the ICCC is a religious body has been recognized in all the other countries where it has met and it has been treated as such by government officials.

In Canada itself, the Canadian Council of Evangelical Protestant Churches, founded in 1953, has been recognized by the government as a religious body entitled to tax exemption. The same is true of International Christian Relief, Canada, of the ICCC which has just sent 80,000 lbs. of relief goods to Romania. All the ICCC churches in Canada from Nova Scotia to British Columbia are recognized by the Canadian Government and are entitled to tax exemption. They carry on their ministry freely. The denial by the Government of visas to these delegates and participants constitutes a great fracture of the free exercise of religion. The emphasis on human rights and non-discrimination on the basis of race, color or religion has become a recognized standard among the nationa and particularly among the Human Rights Commission of the United Nations.

So devastating has been this denial of entrance to these church leaders that the operation at the Congress was less than half of its expected attendance and it has done great injury to the Council’s operation and existence in various countries.

The denial has been so sweeping and massive that, whatever the motivation may have been, Canada has used visa power to afflict, discriminate and persecute a religious movement as represented in the ICCC. Not only were the denominational representatives prevented from coming in country after country but representatives of the new church bodies joining the Council were forbidden to come. The invitations of the Council were rejected. They could not be dangerous crooks.

The contrast between the composition of the Council assembled in the past stands out with the previous Congresses in 1983 and 1988 where the Philippines with its churches over the islands sent more than 200 delegates who were admitted to the United States. This time not more than 15 were allowed to enter Canada, of the more than 180 who were qualified to come. The same is true of India where the ICCC has churches over the entire country. In 1983 and 1988 the United States admitted more than 200 to each Congress. This time in Northern India 183 stood in line with all their papers to receive visas. Not more than 5 or 6 were admitted. The Anglican Bishop, the Rev. V. Som Nath and Bishop Gian Chand Kanwal finally got visas. Bishop Kanwal, Vice-President for the ICCC in Northern India, spent five days remonstrating with the Embassy to Canada. He presented the case and nature of the ICCC to them--182 people, all paying their own way and all properly commissioned to come to the Congress; all had their papers. He and many of them slept on the road all night. He was able to explain to the Consul the nature and ministry of the ICCC in India, all to no avail. Various pressures were used and he finally got his visa. He was told that the ICCC was no Council of Churches and also told that if it were the World Council he and the other applicants would be able to get a visa to Canada. He was asked if the ICCC was a branch of the World Council of Churches. This report indicates that there were various factors involved in these denials.

In Southern India the ICCC has a very large constituency. The same situation prevailed where more than 200 were denied and not more than a dozen were allowed to come. When he arrived in Canada, Dr. J. Buraga, President of the India Council of Christian Churches, discovered the same thing that he faced in New Delhi had been going on in other countries in denying visas. He personally made sure that those who made applications had all the necessary documents which the government required and, finally, as he remonstrated by telephone, he was simply told that they did not deal with problems by phone. They gave him a visa. He has traveled around the world for the ICCC and has been back and forth to the United States without any problem. He had been previously in Canada. In the neighborhood of...350 visas were denied for India alone. The Canadian Consul in New Delhi spoke disparagingly of the ICCC saying to some of the delegates, "Why do you want to go there and waste your money and time?"

Only one of our 21 delegates from Haiti received a visa and he was permitted to stay for only one week. Twelve of the Brazil delegation of 20 who had their round-trip tickets, everything in order representing churches, were summarily denied visas. From Nigeria, where the ICCC had 27 denominations, not one delegate was admitted. One delegate from Ethiopia was allowed to enter Canada. Even in the case of South Korea the Canadian Embassy refused to admit a sizeable number of the duly appointed delegates to Canada. Whatever motivation directed such a repressive act, the facts are here were Christian leaders who were god-fearing, law-abiding citizens, responsible for Christian churches in their land. They were not transferring dope; they do not belong to subversive terrorist organizations, nor have they joined revolutionary activities. This council over a period of 42 years has developed into a fellowship of 547 denominations which are faithful to the historic Christian faith--the same faith that had its great influences in the development of Canada and the western world by those who fled religious persecution in Europe.

To offset the ICCC’s meeting in Vancouver and overlapping it was the gathering of homosexuals. There were 7,002 delegates at the Gay Pride games from 27 countries with the questionable factor of AIDS so general in their community. This gathering of foreigners was so freely admitted, while another gathering, one of Christian church leaders, ran into a hostility which reduced their presence by more than half who would have been able to fill out the program as contemplated and organized. The partiality shown here can only mean that the churches were picked out for this special treatment.

One thing is clear that the ICCC represents the world-wide organization of churches which do not support--and many have come out--of the WCC. The religious issues between these two bodies are matters to which Christian people are entitled, both to have their opinions and to take a stand. This Council reporting this repression considers it to be religious persecution of the first order against the churches of Jesus Christ.

It calls upon the Canadian government to apologize to the ICCC and to discipline all who were responsible for it. It authorizes an appeal to the Human Rights Commission of the UN with a petition that Canada be called to account before the nations of the world. No way does this council question the right of the Government of Canada in its use of visa power to protect the interests of their citizens but such a blanket and general use of this power to inhibit the free exercise of religion is a violation of the Constitution of Canada which is supposed to guarantee such freedom.

Here is perhaps the first example in the 20th Century where government power has been used against any international Christian body. Political, ideological, ecumenical, and various factors are involved in the conflict between the WCC and the ICCC. They raise the question of whether within the government consular officers around the world there is an anti-ICCC bias and a pro-WCC interest which could be among the real and subjective factors that precipitated this destructive attack upon this Christian body. This Council also requests the support in this protest all who believe in religious freedom and human rights and no discrimination on the basis of color, national origin, race or religion.

In Canada there have been times when the Council has spoken out against the Government, an activity of the ICCC through its regional organization headed by its representative, Mr. Tom Linton.

The Government in an official action organized and assisted in sponsoring an interfaith religious service of worship on February 14, 1988, commending Canada for maintaining religious freedom. This was objected to as a government-run religious function and operation. Participating were the churches of the WCC in Canada, which dominate the religious scene together with the Roman Catholic Church and a number of evangelicals who were willing to compromise and participate in this fusion of religious bodies, all at the behest of the state.

Here is a case where the International Council in its promotion of religious freedom has insisted that the Government be separate. The separation of church and state is essential for the protection of the churches in their ministry and freedom.

In protesting this action against the ICCC it is the desire of this Council that such a strong protest be manifested that nothing like this will occur again in Canada or any other country. Religious persecution and repression led various groups from Western Europe to come to this part of the world that they might build their churches and homes on the basis of Christian principles and see that they live under a government which in no way would interfered with law-abiding activities of Christian bodies.

Has the day come when it is no longer possible for world international gatherings of churches to assemble freely without fear of being restricted and being molested by the state?

As a Bible-believing Fundamentalist body, maintaining the common doctrines of the Christian faith, the ICCC has been expanding rapidly and has church bodies in more than 100 nations. At this assembly more than 100 applications were received from new church bodies over the world. Is what Canada has done in afflicting this Council to be a precedent and an example for other countries when the Council gathers for its various church meetings? Here is a cry for help.

Even those who do not agree with its position and activity in the religious world must recognize that what was done to the ICCC could also be done to others, and the day of religious freedom has now entered an eclipse. A protest is now being made by this Council. It sits in an auditorium that is less than half full; at least 600 seats are empty, and there is the constant realization that a secular state has intervened to see that the ICCC’s world-wide ministry is restrained, restricted and repulsed. These more than 600 Bible-believing Christians are denied the privilege of going back to their countries to carry on their ministry for the honor and glory of Jesus Christ with the inspiration derived from the Congress.

When the WCC people in these embassies and others in sympathy with them use their personal positions to inflict this damage by such an abusive power, we need to call upon all governments, including the United States, to take some appropriate action to show their disdain and disapproval of Canada’s abuse of the International Council of Christian Churches.

Leaders Kept From ICCC Congress by Consulates
The attack of the Canadian Government on the ICCC through its consulates left a small company who carried out the prearranged program with some of its prayer leaders and speakers kept from entering the country. For nine days all were conscious in all the sessions that the assembly had been decimated by the Canadian officials, that actual registration came to only 502, including American visitors...

...The people who came went away realizing that a new form of persecution manifested itself, and the Canadian Government was used to implement it against this Council...All left praying that God would overrule the attack made by the Canadian Government, and instead of hurting the Council, this kind of opposition would strengthen the believers to be courageous and be bold in carrying out the Great Commission, which is upon them from Jesus Christ.

From The Vancouver Sun, August 16, 1990:

Fundamentalists want damages from Ottawa
By Douglas Todd
Sun Religious Reporter

A worldwide group of fundamentalist Christians meeting in Vancouver is seeking $5 million in damages from the federal government--charging Canadian consular officials denied temporary visas to more than 600 conference delegates.

"We feel it’s a form of religious persecution and discrimination," Carl McIntire, 84-year-old president of the International Council of Christian Churches, said at a Friday news conference.

Delegates from Haiti, the Philippines, India and Brazil were among those refused entry, said McIntire, who claims his organization represents millions of anti-Communist, "Bible-believing" Protestants.

About 600 delegates made it to the annual convention at the University of B.C.

However, more than 180 delegates from India were denied visas in early August, said Bishop Gian Kanwall of the All-India National Church. Canadian High Commission officials in India refused delegates because of fears they would illegally immigrate, Kanwall said.

The ICCC had to pay UBC’s Gage Towers $13,000 for unfilled rooms, McIntire said.

Vancouver resident Wayne Poley this week sent a letter to the Canadian Human Rights Commission calling for the federal immigration and external affairs departments to pay more than $8,000 compensation to each delegate refused entry.

"We have claimed damages of $5 million, which is $8,000 for each of the 600 representatives turned away. That is well within the history of settlements made in Canadian human rights cases," Poley, a conference official, said.

Jerry Maphree, an immigration department spokesman in Ottawa, said: "With 600 refusals (at consuls around the world), I would have thought a trend would have developed and we would have heard more about it."

Saying he would have to choose his words carefully because an official complaint has been filed, Maphree said the delegates would never have been denied visas on ideological grounds. "Whether they hold radical views or not is irrelevant."

The main reason people are refused temporary visas to Canada, Maphree said, is when there is concern they would not return home. Visitors must also prove an authentic reason for their trip.

ICCC officials said they felt it was unjust their members were denied visas to the conference, which ended Friday, while there were no such problems for the visitors who took part in Vancouver’s recent Gay Games.

The ICCC, which was formed in 1948 to oppose the more liberal and ecumenical World Council of Churches, has never experienced wholesale visa denials for any other annual convention held in other countries, said McIntire.

McIntire also speculated senior government officials might have "colluded" with the "powerful World Council of Churches" to keep out delegates.

The authoritative Encyclopedia of American Religions says the ICCC is the most rigorously fundamentalist of three major world bodies representing Protestant Christians. The encyclopedia says the ICCC and McIntire, who is also founder of the U.S. Bible Presbyterian Church, staunchly oppose communism, modernism and pacifism.

I didn't hear if the ICCC’s appeals to the Government of Canada were successful, but I suspect not. The Human Rights Commission, then as now, was not known to be friendly toward Christians (see Ezra Levant’s book Shakedown (2009), an excellent exposé of the Canadian human rights racket), so that protest presumably went nowhere.

The cabinet minister responsible for the barring of the ICCC delegates from Canada, Barbara McDougall, was promoted in 1991 from Employment and Immigration Minister to External Affairs Minister. Prime Minister Brian Mulroney resigned in 1993, by which time polls showed a higher percentage of Canadians expressing a belief that Elvis Presley may still be alive than supporting the Mulroney government. Mr. Mulroney was replaced as Prime Minister by the forgettable Kim Campbell, who guided the party to a disastrous, if inevitable, defeat in the 1993 federal election. The Liberal Party, under Prime Minister Jean Chretien--whose name, ironically, means "Christian" in French--proved to be far more anti-Christian than the one it replaced.

At the end of 2010 Canada has a minority government under Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party of Canada; unrepentant Mulroneyites are prominent in the party and government, and "Lyin’ Brian" Mulroney is now revered by them as an elder statesman.

Carl McIntire went to be with the Lord on March 19, 2002 at the age of 95. The International Council of Christian Churches had held at least four world congresses since 1990, none of them, as far as I know, in Canada.

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