Readers write: October 25, 2021 issue

October 20, 2021 | Opinion | Volume 25 Issue 22
(Graphic by Betty Avery)

No religious exemptions from COVID-19 vaccines: MC Canada
Mennonite Church Canada’s executive ministers released a statement at the end of September responding to inquiries from constituents regarding exemption from COVID-19 vaccines.

It states:

“For a religious exemption to be granted, rationale for exemption must be clearly indicated within our sacred texts or confessional statements.

“We wish to clarify that there is nothing in the Bible, in our historic confessions of faith, in our theology or in our ecclesiology that justifies granting a religious exemption from vaccinations against COVID-19.

“We have heard concerns from some members of our constituency regarding the vaccines. However, we do not believe these concerns justify an exemption from COVID-19 vaccinations on religious grounds from within a Mennonite faith tradition.

“From the earliest biblical writings, in the words of Jesus Christ and in ecclesial writings since Jesus’ ascension, the command to love God and love our neighbour is paramount. Vaccinations allow us to live out this command. Not only do they reduce the severity of symptoms for those who become infected with COVID-19, but they reduce the risk of spreading the virus to those around us. We also note that individuals should make personal health-care decisions based on advice given by their doctors.

“We pray for unity among us in the Spirit of Christ, who calls us into this life of love, especially for our most vulnerable neighbours.”

Signed by:
—Doug Klassen, MC Canada; Garry Janzen, MC B.C.; Tim Wiebe-Neufeld, MC Alberta; Ryan Siemens, MC Saskatchewan; Michael Pahl, MC Manitoba; Leah Reesor-Keller, MC Eastern Canada


Addendum from gallery founder/curator Ray Dirks
The end of an era at MHC Gallery,” Sept. 27, page 24.

I thank Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe for this piece, but I have a couple of comments:

Ken Reddig was integral in the beginning. Ken and I shared the dream of creating a gallery out of an underused space in the Mennonite Heritage Centre. We also shared the fundraising responsibility prior to the gallery officially opening in the fall of 1998.

At the time of my interview, the gallery’s tentative 2021 fundraiser date was Oct. 1. That changed in September to Nov. 12. A limited number of people will attend in-person and it will be livestreamed. Contact Selenna Wolfe at if interested in the livestream link or in attending in the gallery.

I was always extremely thankful that Mennonite Church Canada was open to the vision of the gallery to be a place where artists from Mennonite communities would be heralded as God-gifted and worthy of support, and to be a place where all people of goodwill representing our increasingly diverse cultural and faith society could call home.

I thank Canadian Mennonite University for taking ownership in 2017, and my prayer is that the gallery continues as the unique institution it is.
—Ray Dirks, Winnipeg


‘Defund the police’ movement embraces logical fallacy, writer claims
Defund the police?” feature, Sept. 27, page 4.

The “Defund the police” movement embraces one of the oldest logical fallacies extant. It is part and parcel of: doctors are responsible for sickness, ministers for irreligion, dentists for tooth decay, lawyers for crime, teachers for ignorance, librarians for illiteracy, etc.

When there is so much unresolved contention at a particular level, we can be pretty sure that the problem is higher up in the system. (That is, we are addressing the symptoms rather than the disease.) While the virulent strain of capitalism known as neo-conservatism is the driving force behind radical cuts to all social services, many of its tenets have been adopted by liberal/leftist administrations also, who find that social programs can only be financed by borrowing truckloads of money.

The result is that we stretch what remains of our social services beyond recognition. Thus, librarians are expected to deal on a daily basis with homeless people and drug addicts, for which they have no training. Teachers are expected to deal with all manner of severely handicapped, behaviourally challenged, and downright antisocial students in overcrowded classrooms. Large numbers of employees find themselves having to muddle through multiple tasks for which they were neither hired to do, nor trained to do, nor given adequate time to complete during working hours. These all reflect a top-down society that simply does not care about ordinary people, let alone those in dire straits.

Unfortunately, those wishing to improve complex situations also suffer from similar deficiencies in training and analysis themselves. They take refuge in the hope that radical solutions will be effective, since hardly anyone wishes to bring reason to such polarized and hyper-emotional situations. However, when the voices of reason and logic are being shouted down everywhere, it follows that the voices of irrationalism and extreme rhetoric will win the day.
—Kevin McCabe, St. Catharines, Ont.


Our values ‘require creative reimagination’
Values that set us apart,” Sept. 13, page 2.

It seems as though the values needed for world peace, for less violence in the world, whether person-on-person, nation-on-nation, or person-on-environment violence, are all furthered to some extent by a motto such as “more with less” if it is applied to all facets of our lives. This seems like something Jesus would do, and something Jesus indicated his disciples should do, as indicated by the Great Commission. Jesus was nonviolent in word and deed, although perhaps his actions/ministrations were token in nature.

To my mind, the violence of the missiological interpretation of the Great Commission, by imposing Christianity on non-Christian peoples and naming it as “winning people to Christ,” is the kind of pharisaical religiosity Jesus was trying to get away from.

However, the differences and “values that set us apart” require creative reimagination to further the unity and world peace Jesus inspired us to strive for.
—Peter Reimer  (Online comment)

(Graphic by Betty Avery)

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