Dear SaskTel-Draft

I am working on this letter for Sasktel.  Does anyone have any feedback on it?

SaskTel Corporate Communications
12th Floor, 2121 Saskatchewan Drive,
Regina, SK S4P 3Y2

Dear SaskTel:

I am a SaskTel Max customer.  For the most part I am satisfied with the service; however, there are three channels that should be removed from the basic package until they clean up their programming.

VisionTV, The Miracle Channel and The Christian Channel (GraceTv), offer programming, from Benny Hinn, Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, Peter Popoff, and Pat Robertson.  This group includes a convicted criminal, an exposed fraud, a suspected fraud, and as a group has committed acts of gross hypocrisy.  Pat Robertson has recently blamed the tragedy in Haiti on a fictional deal with the devil.  His speech is frequently bigoted and homophobic.   These individuals use their public exposure from these shows to beg for donations with which to further their activities.

I do not want my fees to directly or indirectly support such abyssmal behaviour. The Max fees either directly support the programming by paying for it, or if it is supplied free to SaskTel then it is used as a mechanism to solicit donations from viewers.

I do not wish to expose my family to the behaviour or these types of people.  Either the channels or the individual programs should be removed from the basic Max service.  In the meantime, their programming should be marked as appropriate for only a mature audience and the G rating removed.

I am not requesting that these programs be removed completely from the Max service as some individuals may still want this programming. SaskTel should make it available as a paid package.

More details and references follow.

Best Regards,

SaskSkeptic.

Vision TV has shows from:

The Miracle Channel has shows from:

The Christian Channel has shows from:

Pat Robertson routinely uses major tragedies to promote his bigotry against various groups.

Controversies surrounding Robertson include his earlier work as a faith healer,[35] his claim that some Protestant denominations harbor the spirit of the Antichrist,[36] and his claims of having the power to deflect hurricanes through prayer;[37] he has also denounced Hinduism as “demonic”[38] and Islam as “Satanic.”[39] Robertson has issued multiple condemnations of feminism,[40] homosexuality,[41] abortion[42] and liberal professors.[43] Robertson also had financial ties to former presidents Charles Taylor[44] (Liberia) and Mobutu Sese Seko[20] (Zaire), both internationally denounced for their systemic human rights violations. Robertson was criticized worldwide for his call for Hugo Chavez’s assassination[20] and for his remarks concerning Ariel Sharon‘s health as an act of God.[45]

The week of September 11th, 2001, Robertson discussed the terror attacks with Jerry Falwell, who said that “the ACLU has to take a lot of blame for this” in addition to “the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays, and the lesbians [who have] helped [the terror attacks of September 11th] happen.” Robertson promptly replied, “I totally concur.”[49] Both evangelists later issued apologies for their statements.[50]

Less than two weeks after the August 29th, 2005, Hurricane Katrina that killed 1,836 people, Pat Robertson publicly alluded on the September 12th broadcast of the Christian Broadcasting Network’s The 700 Club that Hurricane Katrina was God’s punishment in response to America’s abortion policy, stating, “But have we found we are unable somehow to defend ourselves against some of the attacks that are coming against us, either by terrorists or now by natural disaster? Could they be connected in some way? And he goes down the list of the things that God says will cause a nation to lose its possession, and to be vomited out.”[51]

On November 9, 2009, Pat Robertson said that Islam is “a violent political system bent on the overthrow of the governments of the world and world domination.” He went on to elaborate that “you’re dealing with not a religion, you’re dealing with a political system, and I think we should treat it as such, and treat its adherents as such as we would members of the communist party, members of some fascist group.”[52]

Robertson’s response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake also drew controversy and condemnation.[53][54] Robertson claimed that Haiti‘s founders had sworn a “pact to the Devil” in order to liberate themselves from the French slave owners and indirectly attributed the earthquake to the consequences of the Haitian people being “cursed” for doing so.[55][56] CBN later issued a statement saying that Robertson’s comments “were based on the widely-discussed 1791 slave rebellion led by Dutty Boukman at Bois Caiman, where the slaves allegedly made a famous pact with the devil in exchange for victory over the French.”[57][58] Various prominent voices of mainline andevangelical[59] Christianity promptly denounced Robertson’s remarks as false, untimely, insensitive, and not representative of Christian thought on the issue.[60][61][62][63][64][65]

Peter Popoff, a faith-healer who was exposed as a fraud on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.  He is still performing as a faith-healer.

During his appearances at church conventions in the 1970s, Popoff routinely and accurately stated the home addresses and specific illnesses of his audience members, a feat he allowed them to believe was due to divine revelation and “God given ability”.[2] In 1986 when members of CSICOP reported that Popoff was using a radio to receive messages, Popoff denied it and said the messages came from God.[3] At the time of his popularity, skeptic groups across the United States printed and handed out pamphlets explaining how Popoff’s feats could be done.[1] Popoff would tell his audience that the pamphlets were “tools of the devil“.[1]

Popoff’s earlier claims were debunked in 1983 when noted skeptic James Randi and his assistant, Steve Shaw, researched Popoff by attending shows across the country for months. They discovered that radio transmissions were being sent by Peter’s wife, Elizabeth Popoff, where she was reading information which she and her aides (Reeford Sherrill) had gathered from earlier conversations with members of the audience. Popoff would simply listen to these promptings with his in-ear receiver and repeat what he heard to the crowd. After tapes of these transmissions were played on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, Popoff’s popularity and viewing audiences declined sharply, and his ministry declared bankruptcy later that year.[1] In September 1987, sixteen months after the Carson airing, Popoff declared bankruptcy with more than 790 creditors having claims against him.[4]

Jim Bakker, a convicted criminal guilty of wire fraud, and conspiracy.

Following a 16-month Federal grand jury probe, Bakker was indicted in 1988 on eight counts ofmail fraud, 15 counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy.[4][10] In 1989, after a five-week trial which began on August 28 in Charlotte, the jury found him guilty on all 24 counts, and Judge Robert Potter sentenced him to 45 years in federal prison and a $500,000 fine.[2]:52[11]

In early 1991, a federal appeals court upheld Bakker’s conviction on the fraud and conspiracy charges, but voided Bakker’s 45-year sentence, as well as the $500,000 fine, and ordered that a new sentencing hearing be held.[11] On November 16, 1992, a sentence reduction hearing was held and Bakker’s sentence was reduced to eight years.[2]:104

PTL’s fund raising activities between 1984–1987 underwent scrutiny by The Charlotte Observernewspaper, eventually leading to criminal charges against Jim Bakker. From 1984 to 1987, Bakker and his PTL associates sold $1,000 “lifetime memberships”, which entitled buyers to a three-night stay annually at a luxury hotel at Heritage USA. According to the prosecution at Bakker’s later fraud trial, tens of thousands of memberships had been sold, but only one 500-room hotel was ever completed. Bakker “sold” more “exclusive partnerships” than could be accommodated, while raising more than twice the money needed to build the actual hotel. A good deal of the money went into Heritage USA‘s operating expenses, and Bakker kept $3.4 million in bonuses for himself.

On March 19, 1987, following the revelation of a payoff to Jessica Hahn (whom Heritage’s chief builder, Roe Messner, had paid $279,000 from Roe’s own funds, according to Bakker’s autobiography) to keep secret her allegation that he Bakker had raped her, Bakker resigned fromPTL.[4] Bakker acknowledges he met Hahn at a hotel room in Clearwater Beach, Florida, but denies raping her.

Jimmy Swaggart, has hypocritically had high profile associations with prostitutes in 1988 and 1991.

On February 21, 1988, without giving any details regarding his transgressions, Swaggart tearfully spoke to his family, congregation and audience, saying, “I have sinned against you, my Lord, and I would ask that your precious blood would wash and cleanse every stain until it is in the seas of God’s forgiveness.”[3] On a New Orleans morning news show four days later, Murphree stated that while Swaggart was a regular customer, they had never engaged in sexual intercourse.[4] The clip of Swaggart’s confession was played repeatedly on news and tabloid television programs.

On October 11, 1991, Swaggart was found, for the second time, in the company of a prostitute, Rosemary Garcia,[5] when he was pulled over by the California Highway Patrol in Indio, California, for driving on the wrong side of the road. According to Garcia, Swaggart stopped to proposition her on the side of the road. When the patrolman asked Garcia why she was with Swaggart, she replied, “He asked me for sex. I mean, that’s why he stopped me. That’s what I do. I’m a prostitute.”[6][7]

  • Benny Hinn, a faith healer who alledgedly has not healed anyone but still collects huge amounts of money.
  • In April 2001 HBO aired a documentary called “A Question of Miracles” on Hinn and fellow faith healer Reinhard Bonnke. [11] The director Antony Thomas told CNN‘s Kyra Phillips that they did not find cases where people were healed by Hinn.[12] Thomas told the New York Times about Hinn’s claims, “If I had seen miracles, I would have been happy to trumpet it . . . but in retrospect, I think they do more damage to Christianity than the most committed atheist.”[13]
    In March 2005, Ministry Watch, an independent evangelical organization which reviews Christian ministries for financial transparency and efficiency and advises potential donors accordingly, issued a Donor Alert stating that “the reported exorbitant spending of the Hinn family reveals that BHM has far more money than it needs to carry out its ministry” and advising Christians to “prayerfully consider withholding contributions to Benny Hinn” while praying for his restoration and repentance.[14] Benny Hinn Ministries is not a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.[15]
    In December 2006, BHM sent out a mailing asking for donations towards a new Gulfstream G4SP jet valued at an estimated US$36 million and costing over US$600,000/year to maintain and operate.[16]
    In November 2006 the CBC Television show the fifth estate did a special titled “Do You Believe in Miracles” on the apparent transgressions committed by Benny Hinn’s ministry.[17] With the aid of hidden cameras and crusade witnesses, the producers of the show attempted to demonstrate Benny’s misappropriation of funds, his fabrication of the truth, and the way in which his staff chose crusade audience members to come on stage for televised healings.[17]
    According to the show the seriously disabled who attend his healings are interviewed and then weeded out from ever getting the chance to come on stage. There is a wheelchair section situated at the back of the audience, away from the stage. Instead, those who have minor injuries, or injuries not immediately visible are brought up in their place.[17]

    All quotes are from wikipedia.org

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    7 Responses to “Dear SaskTel-Draft”

    1. Will Breen Says:

      Generally good. Just a few grammatical things: exposer=exposure. Meantime is 1 word, not 2.

      Stylistically, you may want to point out that many of these despicable commentators regularly make pronouncements that, under Canadian law, qualify as hate speech or slander or libel, and by including their channels in the basic package, Sasktel may be in violation of the Crimincal Code, and the CRTC regulations. Also, you may want to cc your comments to the Canadian Broadcasting Standards Council, of which Sasktel is presumably a member.

      Good letter.

      • saskskeptic Says:

        Thanks for the feedback on the typos

        Your point about some of the the programming likely being illegal under Canadian law is a good one. It is also a good approach.

        For now I would prefer not to proceed that way,

        I feel that I would need to supply examples and currently I don’t have any. I am certain it would be easy enough to find examples.

        You start getting into matters of opinion and judgment. Is a specific section slander or not. The letter as written is based on facts, which makes it harder to dismiss as a mater of opinion.

        I am not certain that I agree with hate speech laws in general or as implemented in Canada.

        I encourage you to write a letter based on your excellent comments. It would be interesting to see a human rights complaint being made.

        • McKynzie Adams Says:

          Generally speaking, your letter would most likely be thrown out the minute they see you’ve signed your name saskskeptic.

          The letter itself is okay, however, you won’t get anywhere with opinions and no facts or examples… I personally don’t agree with your stance (I’m more of a don’t like it, don’t watch it kind of person) however, that doesn’t mean you won’t send your letter… That’s the problem with opinions…. Come talk to me when you have a letter with some legitimate references.

    2. Will Breen Says:

      And furthermore, upon review of the CBSC Code of Ethics, it appears that Sasktel may have problems in Clause 2:

      Clause 2 – Human Rights

      Recognizing that every person has the right to full and equal recognition and to enjoy certain fundamental rights and freedoms, broadcasters shall ensure that their programming contains no abusive or unduly discriminatory material or comment which is based on matters of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status or physical or mental disability.

      and Clause 8:

      Clause 8 – Religious Programming

      Broadcasters should endeavour to make available to the community adequate opportunity for presentation of religious messages and should also endeavour to assist in all ways open to them the furtherance of religious activities in the community. Recognizing the purpose of the religious broadcast to be that of promoting the spiritual harmony and understanding of humanity and of administering broadly to the varied religious needs of the community, it shall be the responsibility of each broadcaster to ensure that its religious broadcasts, which reach persons of all creeds and races simultaneously, shall not be used to convey attacks upon another race or religion.

      Looks like some good ammunition there….

    3. Bette Davis Says:

      Oh yes lets make absolutely sure that everyone has their rights taken care of except “CHRISTIANS” by ensuring that we only provide secular programming which of course is only made up of great people with never a scandal, flaw, bad person, fraud, fraudulent claims…Give me a Break! You are just sad.

      • saskskeptic Says:

        Why do Canadian “CHRISTIANS” want programming from known bigots, hypocrites, frauds and criminals?

        The objection isn’t to Christian programming in general, its to programming from specific individuals.

        Actually, I am generally quite happy.

    4. AS PER cepsaskcouncil.ca Website:

      ” “SaskTel is not legally bound by either the Canadian Human Rights Act or the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code”.

      The explanation we were given by the company is that when SaskTel as a Crown Corporation became federally regulated only certain provisions of the Federal Labour Code applied by statute. Initially SaskTel was not covered by the rules and regulations of the CRTC. Legislation was passed along with a grace period for SaskTel to comply to the CRTC. That grace period expired a number of years ago. One of the areas not covered by the changes to the legislation was the application of the Canadian Human Rights Act. Due to the fact that SaskTel is covered by the Federal Labour Code means that the provisions of the Saskatchewan Labour Relation Board and subsequent Saskatchewan Human Rights Code do not apply to SaskTel by statute. The same way that SaskTel is not covered by the provincial essential services legislation. SaskTel has voluntarily complied to the provisions of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code. Neither the provincial or federals human rights commissions have the power to force compliance of the respective pieces of legislation. It is up to SaskTel to voluntarily comply.”

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