Monday, 15 July 2013

Canadian Government Funding Religious Magazines... since, forever. Am I the only one surprised?

Statue of Ste-Anne. She looks a little bored, or tired, or dead inside
Statue of Ste-Anne (source). She looks a little bored, or tired, or dead inside.
You know, it's a bad sign when you buy a house and your receiving mail for what appears to be an entire hamlet or small village. So far, I've counted almost a dozen different names coming in!

The last owners were from Pakistan and I believe I got some kind of package from their children's Islamic school.  But naturally, I didn't open it so I cannot be sure. I'll hand it to them when they drop by to pick up their old mail. I'm tempted though. Maybe I'll ask them.

Some previous owners were obviously good Quebec Catholics, because I've been getting La Revue Sainte Anne: Magasine populaire catholique (English: Annals of Saint Anne). Here's a blurb from the English site.
The Annals of Saint Anne is a religious catholic magazine that is published 6 times yearly. Founded in 1874, it now boasts an average of 25,000 subscribers and addresses all Christian families with its spiritual, moral and social content. The French version is totally different and contains even more variety: it reaches more than 55,000 homes, and is printed 11 times yearly. Both magazines aim to evangelize families and propagate Christian faith in our modern world. Care to find out why so many people enjoy reading The Annals?
Cover of La Revue Sainte-Anne
The issue that showed up at my door.
Well, yes. I would love to know why anyone would enjoy reading the Annals. Since I grew up Catholic and the magazine came unwrapped, I decided to leaf through the thing. I find these things interesting.

The magazine had about what I'd expect in it. It had plenty of Catholic trinkets for sale of varying degrees of gaudiness - $11.50 for a plastic bottle of water.

It had messages from monseigneurs and priests about the faith of our ancestors and announcements of newly constructed evangelical schools. Some trinkets. There was an article about how baptism day is the most important day of one's life. Some trinkets. Some biographies of saints and priests long dead. An invocation prayer to Ste-Anne. Some trinkets. An article about how fantastic the new Pope is, comparing him to the Arab Spring. Trinket. A page full of supposed miracle cures of terminal diseases after praying to some saint or another. Trinket. More stories about Catholics and Catholic evangelicism.

Trinkets. Trinkets. Trinkets.

But one thing really caught my eye. It seemed very out of place. It was the official emblem of the Government of Canada with the following at the bottom in green print.
«Nous reconnaissons l'aide financière du gouvernement du Canada par l'entremise du Fonds du Canada pour les périodiques (FCP) pour nos activités d'édition.»
The English version.
We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada through the
Canada Periodical Fund of the Department of Canadian Heritage.
Picture of Canada Periodical Fund notice inside magazine.

I found this a little surprising. That a Catholic magazine was being funded directly by the government of Canada. And this is a magazine that boasts 25,000 English subscribers and 55,000 French subscribers.  You would think that the subscribers could pay for the magazine's costs - or the Roman Catholic Church.

I went ahead and looked up how much this magazine got from my taxes this past year. Here's a list of the 2012-2013 recipients of this fundLa Revue Sainte Anne: Magasine populaire catholique got this much from the Canadian government last year.


$259,835

And this was just for the past year. I looked at the governments archives and found that the magazine got $ $212,868 back in the 2000-2001 funding period. If I were to just use ballpark numbers - say $220,000 a year, for the past 12 years we're talking about around $2,600,000.  Just for this one publication peddling Catholic junk and highlighting all the amazing Catholic Saints out there.

And this is just one publication.

How about BC Catholic? It's the official newspaper of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver
Founded in 1931, it is published approximately forty-seven times a year from the archdiocese’s main offices at 150 Robson St. in Vancouver. The B.C. Catholic is a member of Canadian Catholic News.

This paper is actually churned out weekly at the archdiocese's main offices in Vancouver. Can you get any closer to religious propaganda than that? And how much did they get from this fund for 2012-2013 season?

$246,547

Back in 2000 they got just $ 219,010, so I think we can safely say they've gotten at least $1.6 million as well in the past 12 years. And remember, this as as far back as the web archives go on the government site. For all I know, this has been happening since Confederacy.

What can we find in magazines like this? Here's an inspirational story about a son who was able to defeat the gay, get married, become a family man and live happily hetero after, all through the power of communion and the Church: Church opens her arms in love to homosexuals.

I'm having a hard time figuring out exactly who all the religious organization recipients are on this list and how much money they got. But in 2000, the recipients list was nicely broken down between religious and non-religious recipients - as if someone on the just knew subconsciously they needed to set these guys aside for some reason. Maybe they got extra bonus money for being religious.

Periodicals - Religious (2000-2001): 
$3,070,655

Many of the periodicals in the list are still around. I don't have precise figures and I didn't trace each one through, but let's say this goes on for 12 years.  Say, around $36,000,000.

Here's information on this program.  It's called the Canada Periodical Fund. Here's some information on how to get your publication funded. I couldn't find any secular or atheist publications on the roster. For that matter, I have yet to find a publication that is not Judeo-Christian.

This is likely because the amount of funding any publisher receives is calculated based on the size of their paid subscriber base and the minimum number of subscribers is 2,500. Although this seems fair, it does have the effect of keeping publications from minority groups out of the list while funding millions to mainstream Christian and Jewish publications - hence helping spread uniquely Judeo-Christian message and social concerns. Heaping more money on top of groups that already have the strongest voice and (in the case of the Vancouver archdiocese, at least) have the deepest pockets.

OK, look, I know this is piddling change for a country the size of Canada.  But it's sort of the principle that bugs me here. Why is the government funding religious messaging?

Take a look a gay marriage for instance.  The Catholic Register, $379,809 last year alone, published an opinion from Michael Coren, who's near intolerable television program, The Arena, airs on the Fox Sun News Network. His opinion piece here is Pro-marriage doesn’t make you anti-gay.

(From the online version. But it comes from the same organization):
Marriage is, however, a child-centred institution, and while gay people can live together as much as they want — it’s their business, not mine — marriage is not a human right but a social value, and we should care more about social stability and the future of children than about a fashionable cause. Equality has nothing to do with this. The supreme misnomer “marriage equality” is a contrived term invented to paint people as bigots and extremists.
I'll just leave it at that.

Often the less popular opinions are expressed in Opinion sections of the websites or the guest commentary sections so they do no reflect the opinions of the paper. The B.C. Catholic mostly keeps to the facts within its main paper area.  It's its blog, The Busy Catholic,  that seems to contain more meaty opinions.
As harm continues to be inflicted on human beings, pro-lifers will continue to protest and speak for those who can't raise their own voices. Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB, gave a homily to encourage the people to defend life  at the first Saturday Mass, Jan. 5, 2013:
Here's a couple more nuggets.

Western Catholic Reporter, $357,359 last year, with Marriage deftly weaves society's fabric:
Of course, society's institutions do not determine the nature of marriage. They cannot modify marriage's traits and purpose. Rather they must respect and protect its essential nature. 
... 
As well, marriage must be between persons of the opposite sex. A "same-sex marriage" cannot be fruitful according to God's plan for human dignity. Nor can it reflect the complementary nature of male and female. 
Although the nature of marriage is one thing, people who live in distorted situations – divorce, common law relationships or homosexual unions – still must be treated with respect and dignity.
Catholic Insight, $32,431 last year taking a political stand with Obama: enforcer of the sexual revolution:
Another attack on the Catholic Church and on the pro-life cause occurred in 2011 when the Obama Administration revoked a grant to US bishops because they would not make abortion referrals to victims of sex-trafficking. The bishops have appealed the ruling issued by a federal judge. 
The sacrifice of religious freedom in favour of Obama’s sexual revolution has also resulted from the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. This policy, which prohibited discrimination of closeted homosexuals but banned openly gay citizens from military service, was repealed on 20 September 2011. It was something that Obama had planned to do since his 2008 election campaign. As a result of this repeal, high-level military chaplains report they are increasingly being denied freedom of conscience and freedom of speech. The repeal would make it impossible for chaplains whose faith teaches that same-sex behaviour is immoral to minister to military service members.
But in the end, it doesn't even matter how much these publications show their opinions about certain contentious social issues.  My beef is that they're getting substantial money from taxpayers like me to push out their religious malarkey and peddle their useless religious merch on my dime.

Editor's Note 2013-07-15: I replaced 'shwag' with 'trinket' to remove any unforeseen and unintended connection with 'marijuana' - as I wasn't aware of that until after I published the article. Also, 'schwag' tends to mean 'free stuff' - and there is nothing free about these items. Thanks.



Children standing in front of Kasese Humanist Primary School in Uganda.On an unrelated note, here is my current fundraiser for helping the Kasese Humanist School in Uganda build new classrooms. 

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