Readers write: November 21, 2016 issue

November 16, 2016 | Viewpoints | Volume 20 Issue 23

Reader supports Mennonite call to ‘speak up’

Re: “Mennonites should speak up about Muslim head coverings” letter, Oct. 10, page 10.

This letter is right on. We have had a business in a non-Mennonite area for many years. Our customers came from every origin. Our employees never distinguished between the ethnic dress of anyone.

Growing up in a Mennonite area of Manitoba, we had head coverings in all shapes, types and colours. It did not matter. The issue was left to the decision of the family.

Now if everyone would join the chorus and accept who they are, and get it right once and for all that we were all created in God’s image, it will take care of it on its own without everyone making crude remarks. It has for the last 200 years been accepted.

David Klassen, Edmonton


Postmodern Shift column does disservice to addicts

Re: “The pursuit of truth (Pt. 8)” column, Aug. 29, page 11.

When considering what Jesus says about false beliefs, Troy Watson states  that “addicts, for example, are imprisoned by the false belief that they need alcohol, drugs, achievements, money or whatever they are addicted to, in order to be happy and fulfilled. This belief is a freedom-crushing lie, as our addictions and attachments are the very things destroying our happiness and fulfillment.”

I was surprised and dismayed to read this, as I thought we had stopped placing moral judgments on those with addictions.

There are three concerns with this statement:

  • First, that addiction is a belief. It is well understood that addiction is not a belief; rather, it is a disorder of the brain for which there is treatment.
  • Second, that the addictive behaviour is chosen in order to seek happiness or fulfillment. While this may contribute to the early motivation to use drugs or drink, by the time an addiction takes hold, substances are not used to attain happiness but, rather, to avoid withdrawal and the other negative consequences of not using.
  • Third, while it is true that addictions destroy happiness, to say that it is a result of a belief is to imply the person simply needs to change his or her belief.  No one chooses to be addicted, and to suggest that recovery is simply dependent on changing beliefs further stigmatizes and demeans those who are addicted.

Let’s recognize addiction as the health disorder it is, treat those with addiction with the same respect we would other diseases, and support people with addictions in their ongoing path to recovery.

Barry Andres,  Sherwood Park, Alta.


A better way than BDS?

Re: Coverage of Mennonite Church Canada’s resolution on Israel-Palestine.

Palestinians assert that they are being oppressed by Israelis—specifically, Israeli Jews. Palestinians have grounds for their complaint.

On the other hand, many Jews—especially Israelis—are concerned that if they lower their guard, they will be killed. This fear is also not groundless. It arises out of the current conflict as well as almost 2,000 years of being at the mercy of Christians.

How should Mennonites respond? According to the resolution recently approved by Canadian Mennonite congregations, we should stand up for Palestinians. We should divest from businesses connected with the Jewish settlements, advocate for economic sanctions against Israel, and presumably engage in cultural boycotts against Israeli Jews, as promoted by the boycott-divestment-sanctions (BDS) movement. This is not unlike what was done in opposition to South African apartheid a few decades ago. Of course, in the case of South Africa, we were white people shunning white people. Now we are Christians shunning Jews.

Could there be a better way?

At the MC Canada meetings this summer, it was reported that local Saskatchewan rabbis had approached our leadership, asking that the congregations hold off on the divestment and sanctions components of the resolution in order to have some conversation with the Canadian Jewish community about the problem of settlements. It is regrettable that none of the delegates moved to defer the decision long enough to take up that conversation.

Perhaps it is not too late. I would call for congregations and our MC Canada leadership to try to form relationships with neighbouring synagogues and other Canadian Jewish community organizations before implementing the divestment decision and advocating for Canadian sanctions against Israel.

Russel Snyder-Penner, Kitchener, Ont.


Mennonites must inform themselves on Israel-Palestine

To think about Israel-Palestine is hard. Speaking about Israel can touch deep feelings in many of us. It is far easier not to look, not to see, and not to think. Many people and many churches believe that we should not say anything that might be against Israel. We feel helpless, almost paralyzed in this.

If we here, with our freedoms and security, cannot talk about the realities and needs in Israel-Palestine, how can we expect the people and groups who live in the middle of those tensions and conflicts to get along?

A resolution about Israel-Palestine was passed at the Mennonite Church Canada assembly in Saskatoon this summer ( It is a call to study and prayer; to partnership with nonviolent Jewish and Palestinian groups working for peace and justice; and to take actions, including economic pressures to end settlements and the occupation. Many individuals and churches struggle with this because they feel it says too much against Israel.

Mennonite connections in the area include Bethlehem Bible College ( and Sabeel ( Zochrot ( is a Jewish organization working within Israel on questions of justice and the return of Palestinian refugees. Christian Peacemaker Teams ( has an ongoing presence in Hebron.

A good timeline of events in Israel-Palestine in the last 100 years is available on the British Broadcasting Corporation website (

Light a candle. Push back the fog.

Ray Hamm, Neubergthal Man.

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