Readers write: October 11, 2021 issue

October 6, 2021 | Opinion | Volume 25 Issue 21
(Graphic by Betty Avery)

Idea of defunding the police based on false premises
Defund the Police?”, Sept. 27, page 4.

This response is not addressed to the generalizations made in this article (police “don’t prevent crime,” “officers spend most of their time…,” and “police are very effective at turning people into our enemies”), but to several premises in support of defunding police and re-directing those resources.

The first premise is that local governments have the independent authority to withhold funding from their police force. In fact, they have a legislated duty to fund police departments appropriately. Any council decision on budget allocation can be appealed and, if a budgetary decrease is deemed to have been unjustifiable, the provincial body can order the municipal council to restore the funding as deemed appropriate.

The second premise is that local governments are mandated to provide housing and health care for residents. Local governments are mandated to provide services such as water, sewer, roads, fire safety, parks and recreation. Housing and health fall under the provincial and federal mandates.

Of every tax dollar collected in Canada, local governments take about nine cents—the remainder is divided between provincial and federal governments. Of all the infrastructure in Canada, local governments own about 60 percent. All those services and local infrastructure are financed through property taxes (the nine cents referred to), and to some extent, government grants. If the senior levels of government decreased the size of our police forces, any funds saved would indirectly flow back to property taxpayers.

I agree with the sentiment that addictions, homelessness and crime cannot be solved through policing. We must do better as a society. But expecting local governments to solve this problem is pointless. Local governments can be advocates, but any desire to defund the police or to have more funds directed to housing or health care should be directed to one’s provincial MLA and federal MP.

—Dave Loewen, Abbotsford, B.C.
The writer is part of Level Ground Mennonite Church and a city councillor.


Sexual mores are changing
Re:Differences of cohabitation by the young and the old,” Aug. 16, page 7.

I welcome the grace in the comments by David Shantz regarding a covenant of commitment by a cohabiting couple. For generations the church has been relatively silent on sexual matters, although norms played a significant role. There are social reasons for such changes in culture and lifestyle.

In my lifetime, I have seen three specific generational changes regarding sexual mores. In the decades before the 1960s, the church endorsed human sexuality in marriage between male and female. A union where one member was a divorcee was problematic. Many mothers did not enter the work force and cared for several children.

For the next three decades, young people, including church youth, possibly engaged in sex before marriage, but the definite expectation was eventual marriage for the specific partners. This practice has changed. Now, sex often begins with the slightest degree of romanticism. Both are, or wish to be, employed.

Youth are exposed to conversations of sexuality at school. It is expanded in the media and internet. Travel by air and automobile goes far beyond one’s home region. After years of training and education, many young people move to new locations for employment.

Purchasing a house may happen 10 years after the initial romantic bond. Whereas procreation may have been discussed by a couple before marriage, most in the present generation have no intention of forming a family soon after the union. All this is a challenge to youth, parents, the church and society.

—John Peters, Waterloo, Ont.


We need to encourage those empowered with gift of evangelism
Why don’t we talk about evangelism?” Aug. 16, page 10.

Doug Klassen has asked a very interesting question. His answers reflect the experience, understanding and practice of many in the Mennonite Church.

The topic of evangelism is often confused with church growth, filling pews and meeting budgets. We need to encourage those empowered with the gift of evangelism, giving them time and space in our worship services. May we learn from them.

Unfortunately, many of the programs/methods for evangelism taught in our churches follow a plan that is rather adversarial and argumentative. Students are required to memorize several Bible verses and are given instructions to convince people that these verses prove that Christianity is right and another person’s beliefs are wrong. Indeed, Christ must be central in our conversation, but the question remains: How do I dialogue with people/strangers about spiritual issues?

I have learned that until I understand who I am talking with and what they believe, I am wasting my time. Rushing in with pointed questions usually offends the other person severely and cuts off all further conversation.

We need to learn to listen and ask good questions that invite dialogue relating to spiritual issues. We need to learn how to share our own personal testimony of why Christ (not the Mennonite church) is central in our lives. We need to discern the other person’s sincerity in our conversation.

Evangelism is a skill, a good habit to develop and a very rewarding experience that honours Christ. He, in turn, honours us.

Do we have a meaningful Christian experience to share? Do we believe it is worth learning a few important steps to improve our ability to fulfill the last instruction that Christ gave his disciples (“Go and make disciples...”)?

—David Shantz, Montreal, Que. (Online comment)

Response from Doug Klassen

David...God bless you. These are exactly the questions and perspectives that I hope we can talk about in the regions and on the MC Canada nationwide scene.

—Doug Klassen (online comment)

(Graphic by Betty Avery)

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