Thursday, November 08, 2007

Church Of The Rock...Bottom

Though I don't take most of the stories in the Winnipeg Sun that seriously, this story caught my attention:

Kim Houle is still struggling to explain the harsh realities of discrimination to her children and grandchildren after their aboriginal dance group was turfed from a charity event's bill.

The 45-year-old mother of 10 moved into a Habitat for Humanity home in July and was asked to perform, along with eight of her kids and grandkids, at the organization's volunteer appreciation night, held Tuesday at the Church of the Rock in Fort Garry.

But as she was preparing to dress her kids and grandkids in traditional aboriginal garb Tuesday afternoon, Houle was informed they could not perform because their spiritual dance did not align with the church's policies.

"I was very angry, I was really hurt to have to explain to my kids that this prejudice is still going on," Houle said just hours after the invitation was abruptly revoked.

"Some people still think the old way, that we're basically dancing to the devil. That's what a lot of non-aboriginals thought and I guess still think our dance is about."

The Church of the Rock declined comment when contacted by Sun Media.

'OVERSIGHT'

But Habitat for Humanity spokeswoman Michelle Nyhof confirmed Houle's invitation was "unfortunately" revoked at the demand of the church.

Nyhof said the organization regretted having to cancel the dance performance, but said not checking all performers with the church prior to the event was "an oversight" on Habitat's part.

Habitat signed an auditorium rental agreement allowing Church of the Rock first right of refusal on performers, and when it presented a performance list Tuesday afternoon, church administration said Houle's spiritual dance did not meet its policies.

Nyhof said administration did not elaborate on those policies, and confirmed Houle was the only performer slashed from the bill after Church of the Rock's review.

Houle does not fault Habitat. Instead, she says the church reminded her that aboriginal people are still not free from racism and prejudice -- and blames the church for forcing her to explain that to eight kids between one and 22 years old.

Habitat still invited Houle to attend the event, but she decided Tuesday night not to attend.

As the President of an organization whose mandate is human rights, I was particularly outraged when I read this. What exactly are the church's policies? Was it because they were aboriginal? Was it the spiritual dance itself, that perhaps it didn't share the same values and spiritual policies as the C.O.T.R.? Was it just a misunderstanding and scheduling conflict?

I suppose instead of jumping all over the church for it's actions, we should perhaps hear their side of the story. It never helps the situation when the accused declines comment, it immediately gives the impression they have something to hide or this in fact is the truth. I'm sure by tomorrow, the church's public relations staff will issue the standard damage control statements to defuse the situation. I browsed the Church Of The Rock's website earlier in the day, it said the usual inviting message of "we except all denomination's, multi-ethnic, all people....etc", but when I checked the link later around midnight (as I'm writing this) the site was down or removed...hmm.. sounds kind of suspicious, maybe they do have something to hide.

The church was created by pastor Mark Hughes and his wife and their church now occupies a large warehouse space in the McGillvary Industrial Park area of Winnipeg. A few weeks ago the University Of Manitoba used the church for their fall convocation during the worker's strike at the University. Are they sure the university weren't infringing on any of the church's policies for allowing any undesirables in their house of God or whatever. Last time I looked they allow aboriginals, gays and non-Christian's into university, so I'm surprised the Church didn't look over the graduate list for their "right to refusal". Any church that names itself after the wrestler Dwayne Johnson (aka: The Rock) can't be taken seriously, so in this day and age can this church be seriously that ignorant and racist....or at least until they tell us they're not.

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

Would we be wondering the same thing if the Church of the Rock cancelled the winnipeg blue bomber cheerleading squad from doing a dance performance? Why do people always need to play the race card?

Anonymous said...

I sometimes wonder why people feel the need to comment without leaving a name or tag. Even if you are using the Anonymous feature because you do not subscribe to google/blogger or another affiliated site, you can still put your first name at the bottom of your text. Also mention if you are involved in the organization being discussed. It adds validity to your comments.

Informed discussion is healthy.

maruad said...

oh crap... that was supposed to pick up my signature...

Maruad (my livejournal is http://maruad.livejournal.com

Anonymous said...

Not even the author of this blog puts his first name. At any rate...I am not a member of that church, but I can understand why a religion, that has a core belief in one God, would prefer not to allow a spiritual dance centered around a belief of many Gods. Ultimately, it's not an issue of race. It's an issue of conduct. I would imagine if Habitat for Humanity invited Pam Anderson to do a pole dance in lingerie, she too would have been cancelled. I just don't understand why people always have to play the race card when they can't have their way.

Anonymous said...

Is Anonymous saying that an Aboriginal spiritual dance is like a Pam Anderson pole dance?

cheryl from winnipeg

Anonymous said...

Not quite. I’m saying there are certain things that people of religion believe are wrong. The big three religions, Judaism – Christianity – Islam, all believe in one God. The first of the 10 commandments is: You shall have no other Gods beside me.

Native spirituality is based on a plurality of Gods. Native spiritual dances are based on paying respect to those Gods.

In this case, it’s understandable why a pastor would not want someone performing a dance to pay respect to multiple other Gods in his church. In the end, I think this is an issue of behavior, not an issue of race.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Who knew it was named after a wrestler!

I have to assume that you came up with that yourself, as I always assumed "The Rock" had more to do with the foundation the church is built on... and no the building either.

Churches have a right to allow, or reject what goes on inside their building, in the same way that I have to remove my shoes in Thunderbird house to enter. If I don't take off my shoes... I don't get in.

Anonymous said...

They make you take off your shoes!?!? Now that's racism for sure.

Dayna said...

Some of your comments are unbelieveable...
I am not Aboriginal but I know Kim Houle personally and can say with confidence that she is the FURTHEST thing from a racist. Kim honoured my husband and I by standing with us for both of our non-Christian weddings and offering us her unending support, as she would have done regardless of the religion involved.
Maybe this Church would do well to remember that their beliefs include the fact that God created us all and that we are equal. This simply proves that some are more equal than others...
Dayna from Winnipeg

Eva said...

The people of Church of the Rock are most definitely NOT racist. I attend regularly and the love they have for everyone is genuine and is not conditional according to whether you are christian, non-christian, what your culture may be, or what color your skin is. It is a group of very real and very normal people who love God and would not wish to hurt anyone. Hey, you should come check it out sometime! It's a great place to be :)

Anonymous said...

Lorraine said...
Actions speak louder than words. Unbeleievable that people think they can read people..they are genuine. Not one of us can say that another is genuine, we can assume as I had assumed that this was a genuinely wonderful speaking preacher that was speaking and acting on the word of God. This action sheds much doubt and question to one that had thought differently prior to discovering this event occurred...goes to prove that when something appears too good to be true, generally that is exactly what it is..

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Jack said...

I am not amember of this Church but I think we need to allow them the freedom to operate their group as they see fit. Firstly COR is a private organization and as such can institute any policys that it chooses. Of course Aboriginals are welcome as are other ethnic groups. We must remember that it is, however a Christian based organization and if it wants only entertainers that fit that mold then that is their right. Secondly the poster shows their ignorance regarding the Christian religion as a whole by stating that it is named after a wrestler. Not true. As bible literate Christians are aware, Jesus is referred to as "the Rock" throughout The New Testament:

"The Lord is my rock" (Psalm 18:2

"And who is a rock, except our God?" (Psalm 18:31)

That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (Matthew verses 15-18)

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Anonymous said...

Religion sucks here's proof of the judgmental nonsence it portrays and the war it continues to cause. People just can't do it right!!! Here's to keeping god as personal, strong and within all of us. It's a private matter!

Just Me!!

Anonymous said...

Not sure where to post this but I wanted to ask if anyone has heard of National Clicks?

Can someone help me find it?

Overheard some co-workers talking about it all week but didn't have time to ask so I thought I would post it here to see if someone could help me out.

Seems to be getting alot of buzz right now.

Thanks

Sherry said...

As this Church operates their own private space, they have the right to institute whatever policies they choose. I agree that this is not about race. It is due to the fact that this Christian church is operated on the foundations in which it believes and could not allow a spiritual dance of another religion to take place in its space.

Char said...

Wow, I'm so shocked to read this. I've always watched Mark's program and enjoyed it. I just want to state that I'm not here to judge Mark or the family.

I am aborigilan myself, from NB, living on a reservation. I'm a born again, spirit filled christian, but I also admire the native dances. I know, in my heart, that it's geared to God...not to "other" gods, as stated. People fail because of lack of knowledge..ignorance.

I have to ask if this family were born again? If not, that should not have been an issue. If Jesus were here, He would have welcomed them with open arms! So many other nations worship Him in many different dances..as in Africa, etc. Just because we tend to judge the "outside" cup, we should not cast "any" out. God looks in the heart where no man sees. I so wish that family would have been welcomed.

I feel so sad in my heart. Jesus' two greatest commands are "love the Lord, your God with all your heart, strength" and "to love your neighbours as yourself." No matter the race, they ARE our neighbours, and I know Jesus would have mingled with them...accepted them, not judged them or cast them out. What a shame, really..that this happened.

I pray that this will be resolved to bring glory go God. I pray for this Rock Church and this wonderful family, that peace would be made, and made quickly.

God's blessings!!

Anonymous said...

I am one of many Aboriginal members of Church of the Rock. In this response I speak only for myself and not as a spokesperson for the church in any way. I am in fully in support of the church's decision not to let the Houle family perform. I am deeply aware of the ORIGINS of Aboriginal dances and ceremonies and I do not believe they fit with Christian faith. Yes, many Aboriginal people believe in Christ and practice traditional practices. They may within their hearts do do it as an act of worship to God/Jesus. The Bible states that God sees our hearts and intentions and I'm sure He honours that. People have choice to follow any faith system they choose. But not wherever they choose. I would not walk into a mosque or synagogue and try to place a cross at the front of where everyone is gathered and demand that it stay there. I would expect that I and my cross would be 'asked to leave.'It is not a race issue. All Aboriginal people and all people in general are welcome at the church regardless of what they believe when they come in. Everyone is welcome to hear the word of God right? They can then hear what the Biblically-based beliefs of the church are and DECIDE if they feel like continuing to attend (and yes, Jesus is the centre of the Church of the Rock so expect that). If not in agreement stay and listen some more, or walk next door to another church or a mosque or a synagogue or other. After all God gave us free will right? At the same time we also have the right to define what we believe, to clarify it, and then with God's grace try to follow it the best we can. My thoughts...Vanessa Hope

Anonymous said...

My name is Dayna and I commented on this originally years ago, and the back and forth between defending this church and its Pastor are still going on, but this isn't the only place that his practices have stirred the controversy soup.
Since writing my initial post, my step-children attended the C.O.T.R. for a brief period at the insistence of their Mother's ex-boyfriend. They are Aboriginal and experienced prejudice that is otherwise foreign to them at that Church. The Pastor met them and in a face-to-face conversation warned them about the dangers of "straying" away from the one true Lord and following the traditional ways of their ancestors. Pastor Mark warned about the evils of Sweat Lodges and said that the usage of sacred tobacco was "an excuse" to smoke. My children were confused and hurt and refused to return despite the insistence of the boyfriend.
That being said, the leader of any congregation or worshiping centre, especially one that announces its pride in welcoming people of every faith, orientation and background, should familiarize themselves with other cultures and beliefs, not to worship but to know. Pastor Mark seems to neither know nor care beyond his own faith and his own front door. I've heard the song that Kim and her family planned on singing. The lyrics are about flying and singing with Eagles. The dance is one that doesn't involve worshiping anything. Kim and her family were grateful and could demonstrate their gratitude with a performance.
Traditional Aboriginal ways are Earth-based and everything is valued. There's no devil-worship and the yahoo that mentioned a pole dance would do well to attend a traditional dance, where I guarantee that they would be welcomed and likely invited to join. Despite being a truly good, loving woman, Kim can't say the same thing.
I've said it before and I'll say it again, Kim is the furthest thing from a racist that I've met. She has a heart of gold and it was broken because of a misunderstanding. If Pastor Mark had taken the time to familiarize himself with what Kim and her family had planned, he would have realized that he had nothing to bitch about.
The Bible teaches acceptance and tolerance, even if there were religious differences. Given that Pastor Mark is a spokesman for the Scriptures, I find myself wondering why he feels exempt from following the major principles of his religion. Sad, truly sad...

ROAMING WEST said...

IN RESPONSE TO MARK HUGHES ANTI PRE-TRIB RAPTURE; JESUS TOLD US TO WATCH AND PRAY THAT WE MAY BE ACCOUNTED WORTHY TO (ESCAPE) ALL THESE THINGS THAT ARE COMING TO PASS ON THE EARTH (LUKE 21 - 36 WHAT THINGS??? IF YOU SAY WE HAVE TO GO THROUGH THE (GREAT)TRIBULATION. MAY I REMIND YOU THAT YOUR JOB IS TO PREACH THE GOSPEL OF REPENTANCE UNTO SALVATION AND NOT TO CAUSE DISCORD AND DEVISION AMONG THE BODY OF CHRIST. DON'T CALL US STUPID WHO BELIEVE IN THE PRE-TRIB RAPTURE OF THE CHURCH. WHY ARE YOU TAKING AWAY OUR BLESSED HOPE? DON'T YOU HAVE ANYTHING BETTER TO DO THAN TO DESTROY OUR FAITH? YOU SIR ARE CERTAINLY KNOWN BY YOUR EVIL FRUITS.

ROAMING WEST said...

IN RESPONSE TO MARK HUGHES ANTI PRE-TRIB RAPTURE; JESUS TOLD US TO WATCH AND PRAY THAT WE MAY BE ACCOUNTED WORTHY TO (ESCAPE) ALL THESE THINGS THAT ARE COMING TO PASS ON THE EARTH (LUKE 21 - 36 WHAT THINGS??? IF YOU SAY WE HAVE TO GO THROUGH THE (GREAT)TRIBULATION. MAY I REMIND YOU THAT YOUR JOB IS TO PREACH THE GOSPEL OF REPENTANCE UNTO SALVATION AND NOT TO CAUSE DISCORD AND DEVISION AMONG THE BODY OF CHRIST. DON'T CALL US STUPID WHO BELIEVE IN THE PRE-TRIB RAPTURE OF THE CHURCH. WHY ARE YOU TAKING AWAY OUR BLESSED HOPE? DON'T YOU HAVE ANYTHING BETTER TO DO THAN TO DESTROY OUR FAITH? YOU SIR ARE CERTAINLY KNOWN BY YOUR EVIL FRUITS.

Anonymous said...

Speaking as someone who has seen Pastor Mark interact with members of many different ethnicities and religions, he is the furthest thing from a racist. He is a good man who goes out of his way to get to know the members of his congregation and the visitors to his church. To those of you who had a bad experience at Church of the Rock, I am truly sorry. I'm sure that the incident in question was not meant to stir up hurt feelings or provoke debate. Also, to the person who used pole-dancing as an example, that was a very rude comparison. One last thing, to the person who stated that Pastor Mark referred to believers in the pre-trib rapture as stupid, I was there for that service, the word stupid was never mentioned.

Dayna said...

@Roaming West, someone seriously needs to teach you some etiquette. WHEN YOU USE UPPER CASE FONT, IT'S THE SAME AS SHOUTING, and what is pre-trib?
All of these back and forth responses say the same thing, "Pastor Mark loves all people" and "Pastor Mark would never preach about the evils of other religious paths" but Pastor Mark wasn't there to wipe the tears off my daughter's face when he told her that she was hell bound for going into a sweat lodge. From my perspective, this smacks of Jonestown.

Anonymous said...

Sweat lodges and offerings of tobacco are for connecting with the ancestors.Believing that the ancestors will guide us. I am Aboriginal and I do not follow these practices or take part in the sundance or smudging to cleanse. The Bible forbids consulting the dead,making offerings is only to be done to God as a form of worship and it is only God who deserves this. I respect my ancestors for coming before me and paving the way so to speak but I do not have any reason to consult them as God leads me and guides me and this is all I need. I was cleansed by the blood of Jesus and I do not need sweetgrass to further cleanse me. The blood of Jesus shed for my sins is more than sufficient and all I or any person needs. Through this we receive eternal life, all of us as humans can accept this freely by recognizing Jesus as our saviour. I have no need for the old ways and believe that they are not what God wants us to do.
Vanessa

Rhiannon Edge said...

racism pure and simple. many many rituals we do in life and with each other come from a cultural belief. aboriginal dance, like all dance, is used to tell a story or convey a mood...it is an expression of communication. this was discrimination based on racism.

Anonymous said...

put it this way, if you believe that your dance no matter what culture it comes from, conjures up spirits, then you should be dancing according the spirit of the place you are visiting. Racism, I don't think so. I think this has more to do with a spiritual place than the color of one's skin. the church helps many survivors of all kinds of abuse regain their dignity and beyond. If they ask you not to do something there it's similar to not smoking in a public place. Is our government prejudice against smokers. lol