Ontarians are taking a stand against the chain of church burnings and vandalism, devastating communities across the country.
Newsroom (August 8, 2021, Gaudium Press) – On Saturday, August 7, Grassroots movement Civic Revival organized an event in Mississauga to “Stop the Burning of Churches in Canada.”
“Vandalizing and burning places of worship have no place in Canada and must be condemned in no uncertain terms,” asserts Civic Revival. They are calling “upon the Trudeau government to publicly condemn such atrocities and to assume its responsibility of upholding the Charter of Rights for all Canadians and of putting an end to such heinous attacks on churches.”
The event took place at Mississauga’s Square One from 2:00PM to 4:00 PM during inclement rain. While most of those in attendance belonged to local Catholic parishes, others travelled from as far as Alberta. However, it was not just Catholics who were present. Some of the speakers included Raheel Raza, a Pakistani-born Canadian Journalist and President of The Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow. “I feel the pain of Christians being persecuted here and all over the world,” -Raza noted. “I never thought I would see this happening in Canada and it really hurts me.”
Rai Ramji from the Hindu Forum of Canada shared the same sentiments of the speaker above, stating that “we are shocked to hear about attacks on churches in Canada. We do not tolerate hate against any religious faiths and we do not tolerate burning of churches as a recourse to resolving the injustices of the past.”
Gregory Marcos, Chairman of the Canadian Coptic foundation, said, “All places of worship regardless of denomination or faith must be protected. Freedom of religion is enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. A certain high ranking politician said that anger against certain churches is understandable. NO sir there is no justification for this violence. There has only been a smattering of condemnation from some elected officials, where is the moral outrage.” He continued “if these attacks were against places of worship of any other religion there would be wide spread condemnation and continuous media coverage, however the silence of the media speaks volumes.”
Most of the speakers agreed that the government needs to recognize that these are hate crimes against Christians and conduct a full investigation.
Obaid Chaudry, Communications Director, Senior Advisor and Past President of the Canadian Christian Association, stated: “Many of us here have escaped our home countries and come to Canada to pursue religious freedom and freedom from prejudice and discrimination. The burning and vandalism of churches in Canada is cause for concern and the inaction of the government is also very concerning.” He went on to say that as Christians, we are called to love our enemies and yet we have the duty to raise our voice in the face of this inaction.
Wladyslaw Lizon, a former conservative member of parliament, said that as an immigrant from communism in Poland, he never imagined seeing churches being burned in Canada. “I am appalled that the closest advisor to the Prime minister said that this is understandable. It is not ‘understandable.’ All citizens of Canada and all religions must get the same treatment under the law without any one being more special.” He called for police and enforcement agencies to “find those who are responsible for these crimes and bring them to justice and also to find and expose those who are behind these criminals.”
Dr. Ann Gillies, Founder of Restoring Canada’s Mosaic and a trauma psychologist, indicated that trauma stays in the soul till we give it to God. She added that the burning of churches adds to the trauma and hurts more than it heals. Gillies called out the mainstream media and its owners for stroking the flames by reporting only on the unmarked indigenous graves while not providing adequate coverage to the burning and vandalism of churches. She concluded that many of the churches being burnt are on Indigenous land and are the churches of the Christian Indigenous people. Healing for the past and the present comes from the confession of sins and acts of forgiveness towards others which will lead to freedom.
In personal interviews conducted after the rally, Obaid Chaudry noted that “I personally condemn what has happened to the Indigenous people and children of Canada; however the burning of churches is not a solution. In Canada and globally, Christians are taken for granted because we are a peaceful people and do not go around vandalizing and destroying property. Christophobia is a bigger problem than Islamophobia. The government is side stepping the issue and need to step up to the plate and protect holy places.” He said that Christians need to be more vocal, and this way, the government will pay attention.
His idea was also shared by Wladyslaw Lizon: “The Anti-Christian actions in this country need to be stopped we have never needed a rally like this before. People who stay silent are actually saying that by the silence they accept the treatment.” When asked as to why the investigation is taking so much time and proceeding so slowly, he paused to say: “I can only speculate that there are some forces within the government slowing down the investigation. For the good of the country it should be investigated and it should be stopped. Such inaction or slow proceedings from the government can result in terrible outcomes. We saw this in Spain in the 1930s and in Poland and other places. What is happening is not coincidental and seems to be planned by some and should be stopped before the snowball becomes and avalanche and is unstoppable. The equilibrium that all faiths are equal under the law needs to be brought back.”
On being asked about Civic Revival, Ghada Melek said that the organization was set up to get people out of their apathy and bridge the growing disconnect between the political ruling class and the public. I was shocked that there are some Christians who don’t seem to realize that these are issued that affect all of us, and that vandalism and burning of churches affect all of us. Two wrongs don’t make a right. If Christians act as if nothing happened and they are ok with this, then defnitely politicians don’t have a reason to act.” Civic Revival hopes to “request an independent parliamentary committee to investigate this issue however considering that we may go into an election in a week or two this action is on hold for now.”
by Raju Hasmukh | Photos: Gustavo Kralj/Gaudiumpress Images
See all the event images at Gaudiumpress Images