Faith groups in Canada do great humanitarian work around the world, interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae said Wednesday, in the wake of an uproar over a government-funded Christian group that made an anti-gay statement on its website.
"People of the Christian faith in this country do great work across the world," Rae told reporters on Parliament Hill.
"They do tremendous humanitarian work. The monies that are raised by those communities and spent in those communities in the poorest of conditions, in the most difficult conditions around the world, are a reflection of their faith and of their love for their fellow human beings."
The Canadian Press reported earlier this week that Christian Crossroads Communications Inc., a group that gets funding from the Canadian International Development Agency, had a page on its website that compared being gay to being a pedophile. The report said the page was removed after a reporter asked questions about it.
Crossroads is in the middle of a four-year project in Uganda with $544,813 in CIDA funding. Uganda has had a history of violence against gays and lesbians and its parliament has discussed the death penalty for homosexuality.
Earlier this week, Crossroads posted an apology on its website that said the organization "appreciated the inquiry from a Canadian Press reporter who brought to the organization's attention an archival link on the website that was to have been removed some time ago."
"Crossroads is not anti-gay," the statement said.
"At the heart of the Crossroads organization is a desire to love people unconditionally and to serve them selflessly. Crossroads believes that God, as the Creator of the human race, outlines in the Bible ways for us to live in order to experience the most fulfilling life possible, and that God's blueprint encourages sexuality within a marriage. This same blueprint instructs loving others, just like God does, with an infinite value for every human being regardless of differences that include gender, race, religion, and sexuality, and to endeavour in every way, to ensure that people are treated with love, compassion and respect. In this way, people can show love and respect to each other even when they disagree."
The statement says Crossroads supports Canada's opposition to a bill before the Ugandan parliament that would criminalize homosexuality.
Rae said he accepts the apology and that "everybody else should as well."
"But it's important that their work is done without prejudice, without any aspect of hatred that is contrary to Canadian policy," he added.