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Freedom of Canadian faith groups to discriminate

Federal government
restriction of MM Outreach

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The Canada Revenue Agency and the regulation of religious charities:

The website of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) states:

"It is a charitable purpose for an organization to teach the religious tenets, doctrines, practices, or culture associated with a specific faith or religion. The religious beliefs or practices must not be subversive or immoral."

"Teaching ethics or morals is not enough to qualify as a charity in the advancement-of-religion category. For example, a Web site that states the opinions of an individual or group about what they think is right or wrong does not qualify as advancement of religion. There has to be a spiritual element to the teachings, and the religious activities have to serve the public good." 2

Conflict between the CRA and MM Outreach:

News of a conflict between MM Outreach (a.k.a. MMO) -- formerly called MacGregor Ministries -- and the Government of Canada surfaced in 2008-FEB.

MacGregor Ministries was founded by Lorri and Keith MacGregor in 1979. They are a counter-cult organization. Its prime focus is on Christian faith groups that it considers to have deviated from historical Protestant Christianity.

The 2006 Saint Louis Conference on Biblical Discernment described them as:

"... a Canadian countercult discernment ministry. They have researched, written, and co-produced eight videos dealing with Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh-day Adventists, and the counterfeit Christianity found in some Churches. They also have written and produced numerous booklets, tracts, and audio tapes on the subject of the cults and aberrant Christianity. They have a quarterly magazine, as well as maintain two web sites with information on the cults. They are now known as MM Outreach, in partnership with Media Ministries. 3
The main targets of MM Outreach (MMO) are the Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, Seventh-Day Adventists and other small Christian religious groups. It is important to realize that the latter groups believe that they are fully Christian. Most consider themselves to be the true Christian church, and view evangelical denominations, Roman Catholicism, mainline Protestant, evangelical discernment/counter-cult groups, etc. to be at least partly heretical. Thus, exactly which faith group are "aberrant" or "counterfeit" depends upon one's point of view. Heresy is a relative topic.

Counter-cult groups generally view themselves as conducting an outreach to help persons that they feel are trapped in Christian cults. The MMO group, for example, states on their website:

"If you are a member of any of the groups we have listed we will dialogue with you in total confidentiality. We believe if you have the right Jesus Christ, you are right for all eternity. But if you have the wrong Jesus Christ then you are wrong for all eternity."

This seems to imply that if a person has beliefs about Jesus that are significantly different from MM Outreach's beliefs, then she or he will spend eternity in Hell.

Many groups on the receiving end of such outreach generally view themselves as being aggressively attacked by counter-cult groups, and would prefer that the "outreach" be discontinued.

The government allegedly determined that counter-cult ministries do not perform charitable work in Canada. MMO claims that they were told to change their message to say that all faith groups are equal. They were to stop publishing a magazine on religious cults, remove their two web sites from the Internet, and stop selling certain products. We cannot verify the accuracy of these statements because privacy laws prevent the CRA from disclosing such information.

MMO has since set up a non-profit organization in the U.S. where the definition of religious charity is more inclusive. Unfortunately, if a registered charity in Canada is either de-registered or disbanded, the CRA requires that all assets -- equipment, stock, savings, library, etc. -- must either be donated to another charity or taxed. Their rationale is that assets of charities are held as a public trust and cannot be used to benefit an individual.

One path forward for MMO might be to affiliate themselves with an existing registered religious organization and combine their activities. Alternately, they could simply continue business as a non-profit and non-charitable group. The Government of Canada is not trying to shut them down, as has been claimed by some evangelicals; they are only withdrawing their charitable status.

Frank Pastore interviewed MM Outreach personnel on KKLA radio in Los Angeles. The interview in Real Media and MP3 formats can be downloaded from the Watchtower News web site. 5

References used:

  1. "Charitable Work and Ethnocultural Groups - Information on registering as a charity," Canada Revenue Agency, at: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/
  2. Ibid, "(iii) The advancement of religion," at" http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca
  3. "2006 Saint Louis Conference on Biblical Discernment," at: http://www.pfo.org/2006tape.htm
  4. MM Outreach's home page is at: http://www.macgregorministries.org/
  5. "Canada Shuts Down Macgregor Ministries!," at: http://watchtowernews.org/ 
  6. "Comments on the Charity Status of MacGregor Ministries," undated, at: http://mmoutreachinc.com/

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HomeReligious information > Basic info > Religion in Canada > Discriminate > here

Copyright © 2008 & 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2008-FEB-25
Last update: 2009-FEB-24
Author: B.A. Robinson

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