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Friday, May 21, 2010

Intellectual freedom in Canada: Court okays government-dictated hiring practices for Christian groups

Christian Horizons is reported to have won in the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal. Horizons provides homes for seriously handicapped people in a Christian setting. The issue centred on an employee who - in contravention of a lifestyle code - was living a gay lifestyle. The Ontario “human rights” Commission came down very hard on Christian groups insisting on lifestyles in accord with Christian teachings. Horizons was exonerated by the Ontario Divisional Court, but only on such terms as no one would want to be exonerated - it is okay to be a Christian as long as you don’;t really mean it.

Of course, it wasn’t really a victory at all, despite crowing by groups such as the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada.

As Don Hutchinson observed (May 20, 2010) in The National Post,
The Ontario Divisional Court concluded that the job Ms. Heintz was doing was not impacted by her being involved in a same-sex relationship, contrary to the accepted practices of the faith community with which she was serving and contrary to her own signed acceptance of those practices before she started working there. Accordingly, they struck the “same sex relationship” provision from the lifestyle and morality policy of Christian Horizons, concluding Ms. Heintz had every right to work there.

... They have just issued a remedy that violates the very concepts they supported earlier in the decision when they approved of religious communities deciding what they believe and the practices that line up with those beliefs. They have also decided to ignore decisions issued by the Supreme Court of Canada in 2001 (Trinity Western University), 2002 (Syndicat Northcrest v Amselem) and 2009 (Alberta v Hutterian Brethren of Wilson Colony) which clearly state that once the court establishes that a practice has a nexus with a sincerely held religious belief it’s time to stop.
But it is never time to stop, once the principle is established that government is judge over Christian lifestyle teachings that go back two thousand years to the New Testament, teachings to which the charities’ employees have actually assented.

Columnist Charles Lewis notes (May 20, 2010) that Christian charities are now unclear about what’s allowed and what’s not. I can clear that matter up for them, pronto: What’s allowed is whatever the government happens to allow for now, as secular lobbies systematically dismantle the norms of traditional Christian communities.

The secular lobbies will be back for something else next.

Can anything change this situation? I doubt it. Few Christians, and especially not the Christian elite, have the stomach for it, and they would rather bash the working class brethren who embarrass them. Also, a person close to the Harper regime in Ottawa assures me that, despite window dressing, the regime has no intention whatever of reining in the “human rights” industry.

Harper knows full well that the secular lobbies will gain the ear of sympathetic media and Christians will continue to sneer at their brethren instead of rallying for the separation of church and state. A wise man once pointed out to me that the benefit of this approach is that the wolf is usually devouring someone else just now. If all serious Christians directed their resources against the wolf, it might be driven off, but all would need to take risks.

Next: Intellectual freedom in Canada: Will you have ice in that think?

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