Faith leaders split over convoy protests

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Manitoba faith leaders and organizations are divided over the convoy protests against COVID-19 restrictions in Ottawa.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 06/02/2022 (356 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Manitoba faith leaders and organizations are divided over the convoy protests against COVID-19 restrictions in Ottawa.

Leon Fontaine, senior pastor of Springs Church, posted a statement about the convoy on the Facebook page of the Miracle Channel — a Christian TV station in Lethbridge, of which he is also CEO — last Friday.

“This trucker’s convoy has exploded,” he said in the video message. “If you’ve ever felt like the last two years has been an absolute vacuum of common sense and reason, the sheer number of donations and the speed at which this thing has been galvanized just proved that you are not alone.”

Fontaine sent a TV news crew to Ottawa because he wondered if Canadians are “getting the whole story.”

“I don’t agree with how this convoy is being portrayed by mainstream media. It’s divisive,” he said in a written Facebook post. “This movement is for all Canadians, no matter race, religion or culture.”

Calls about Fontaine’s support for the convoy were not returned by Springs Church or the Miracle Channel.

Three other Winnipeg evangelical pastors weighed in anonymously. In an email, they said the convoy is “an easy target for those that are unwilling to show some empathy and religious compassion for the people who are understandably upset about losing their livelihoods… In the name of tolerance, Canada has become a profoundly intolerant country.”

Faith groups and other organizations have spoken out against the convoy.

In a statement, the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg said: “Across Canada, including here in Winnipeg, a small minority of individuals have shamefully used Nazi symbols, the Confederate flag, and misappropriated the Star of David as part of their protests.

“The Nazi flag is an emblem of evil. It has no place at a public protest in Canada, or anywhere else. We condemn the actions of those who are employing these symbols to advance their political objectives.”

Shahina Siddiqui of the Islamic Social Services Association said, “This recent blatant show of hate should wake all of us to the threat this hate poses to our social harmony.”

“The use of the Nazi flags, the swastikas, the yellow star at the truck convoy protesting the current health measures make an absolute mockery of the experiences of the victims of the Nazis and of all those murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators,” the Manitoba Multifaith Council said.

“The Confederate flags and the appropriation of the ‘Every Child Matters’ slogan further illustrate the depths to which some of the participants in the convoy will stoop… The organizers have a responsibility to condemn these hateful symbols. All people of faith or no faith should be standing up to oppose these worrisome developments.”

The three anonymous pastors said there have been “small elements of unseemly behaviour.”

Fontaine said in another Facebook post that there were “a few individuals tainting the main message” of the convoy in Ottawa. “I do not agree with this behaviour but my crew there says this does not reflect the majority of these peaceful protesters.”

faith@freepress.mb.ca

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John Longhurst

John Longhurst
Faith reporter

John Longhurst has been writing for Winnipeg's faith pages since 2003. He also writes for Religion News Service in the U.S., and blogs about the media, marketing and communications at Making the News.

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