- Teacher Laments ‘Black Day’ For Religious Freedom
- President’s Message
- Count the Cost: Canadians for Marriage Postcard Campaign
- LEAGUE MEDIA WATCH
- Quebec Marriage Appeal
On January 28, 2004, Justice Minister Irwin Cotler announced the federal government’s decision to add a fourth question to the Supreme Court reference on same sex “marriage”, i.e. does the traditional definition of marriage, that is the union of a man and woman, infringe the constitution?
In fact, the CCRL attempted to do this very thing when it sought leave to appeal the Ontario Court of Appeal decision last year, as part of the Interfaith Coalition for Marriage.
That application was thrown out by a five-member panel of the Supreme Court on October 8, 2003, without reasons, at the request of the federal government and the couples involved. At the time the government argued that our groups would interfere with the proposed reference. In particular, we submitted that a complete court record was already available and that the government’s existing reference application failed to raise the most important question as to the constitutionality of the traditional definition of marriage. That appeal, if allowed, would have been argued with all of the affected parties involved by this spring. Moreover, the particular issue of the merits of having courts impose substantial changes to the fabric of Canadian society would have been before the court.
Although the Supreme Court acknowledged its jurisdiction to grant leave for this appeal, it decided to quash our application. We noted at the time that this procedural decision, unlike other substantial court decisions, was not imposed by the Charter, but was based on the court’s meek acceptance of the government’s determination to have its reference proceed on the government’s terms.
In a flip flop from its previous approach, it now appears the government has accepted our submissions and wants the Supreme Court to hear arguments on these issues after all. However, there will be a real difference in that the court will have no ability to overrule the previous court decisions from Ontario and British Columbia which we had sought.
The Minister of Justice, in announcing this additional question, reaffirmed the government’s support for same sex marriage, stating: “This is unwavering. I reiterate it today.”
Prime Minister Paul Martin expects Canadians will not see through the exercise. He stated: “This is not an attempt to delay. This is an attempt to make sure that the fundamental question is on the table (and) Parliament, which must make the final decision, has all the facts at its disposal.”
Does Paul Martin really believe we are that gullible? The government’s new approach is insulting to the groups who sought to have the Supreme Court address the very issue it now wishes to raise. The portrayal of this new question as a further consultation exercise is unacceptable, especially in view of the government’s commitment to change the law.
In February, the government’s wish was granted – the SCC hearings were adjourned to October, 2004. In other developments, an application was brought in the Quebec Court of Appeal to derail the scheduled appeal of the same sex marriage issue, for which a decision is pending as of the date of this article.
However, Canadians will not allow this government to avoid the issue in the upcoming federal election.
It is clear that the government’s position is a reaction to recent polling data showing a significant majority of Canadians believe that the traditional definition of marriage should be retained. As we have advocated previously, Canadians have an opportunity to give a direct message to the courts and politicians on this most important issue.
For our part, we will only support candidates who commit to constitutional protection of the traditional definition of marriage, and who will take active steps to secure that protection.
In an indignant response to an outrageous ruling by the British Columbia (B.C.) Supreme Court, Chris Kempling of Quesnel, B.C., has declared: “It is a black day for religious freedom in Canada.” That’s no exaggeration.
Kempling is a high school teacher in Quesnel, B.C. He is embroiled in litigation over the decision of B.C. College of Teachers (BCCT) to suspend his teaching licence because he expressed his honestly held views on homosexuality in an article and a series of letters to the editor in the Quesnel Cariboo Record.
Kempling appealed the BCCT ruling on the grounds that it violated his rights to freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression in section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. On Feb. 3, Mr. Justice Ronald Holmes of the British Columbia Supreme Court rejected the appeal.
Holmes acknowledged in his ruling that Kempling, “has been a BCCT member since 1980, with a long and unblemished teaching career, and a notable record of community service.” In fact, despite the controversy with the BCCT, the Ministry of Health appointed Kempling to serve as the voluntary head of the Quesnel Community Health Council.
What, then, could this model citizen and teacher have written in his local newspaper to warrant suspension of his teaching licence? Holmes explains: “The appellant consistently associated homosexuals with immorality, abnormality, perversion, and promiscuity. Examples of such statements include: ‘Thus my main concern with giving same sex couples legal rights in child custody issues is due to the obvious instability and short term nature of gay relationships My second concern is how can children develop a concept of normal sexuality, when their prime care-givers have rejected the other gender entirely?'”
On the basis of this and other similar statements, the BCCT convicted Kempling of professional misconduct for making “discriminatory and derogatory statements against homosexuals.” In his defence, Kempling submitted that only discriminatory actions, not speech, can count as unprofessional conduct within the meaning of the law.
Holmes disagreed. He pointed out that under the rubric of “discriminatory publication,” section 7(1) of the British Columbia Human Rights Code bans the issuing of any statement that is likely to expose a group or class or persons to contempt because of their sexual orientation.
The BCCT cited no evidence of a “poisoned school environment” or specific complaints against Kempling. Regardless, Holmes concluded: “In my view, the appellant’s published writings were harmful to the public school system because of their discriminatory content.”
Note the general implications of this finding: Holmes implies that it’s a human rights offence for anyone, not just teachers, to lament sexual promiscuity among homosexuals in a letter to the editor of a newspaper. Yet homosexual promiscuity is a notorious fact. However, such considerations are of no account in a human rights proceeding. In the 1990 Keegstra case, the Supreme Court of Canada decreed that truth is not a defence against a charge of discrimination under a human right code.
As for Kempling’s right to freedom of expression under s. 2 of the Charter, that, too, was of no account to Holmes. He stated as his view that the Charter does not protect, “the appellant’s right to express strictly personally-held, discriminatory views with the authority of or in the capacity of a public school teacher/counsellor.”
Kempling is a Christian. What about his right under section 15 of the Charter to the equal protection of the law without discrimination on the basis of religion? Holmes dismissed this argument on the specious ground that all teachers, not just those who are Christians, are required by law not to discriminate against homosexuals.
Kempling plans a further appeal. That’s a forlorn hope. Former prime ministers Brian Mulroney and Jean Chrétien have stacked the appeal courts with so many dogmatic gay-rights ideologues that it’s practically impossible for a Christian in a case like Kempling’s to get a fair hearing.
Originally published in the London Free Press.
Reprinted with the author’s permission
The late political philosopher Eric Voegelin contended that the struggle between church and state is the motor of history. This is because human beings live in what the Greeks termed ‘the metaxy’ – ‘the in between,’ we are in the physical world and already beyond it in the spiritual – divine. Those two worlds affect one another.
‘Separation of Church and State’ of ‘politics and religion,’ is impossible for the simple reason that they meet and interpenetrate in both aspects of ourselves.
The most adamant atheist has a religion in the broad sense: a natural faith in what he believes are ruling principle truths. The most politically irresponsible Catholic who may issue great declarations at the pub but never thinks seriously about political issues and does not vote nevertheless has an effective political belief. It includes believing that our democracy is not important enough for him to take it seriously.
At the heart of every religion in the stricter sense of a tradition that has spawned an institution to hand down a vision expressed in appropriate symbols are claims of truth. The state, too, operates in what it considers an appropriate manner (belief in practical truth), and it bases its substantial decisions on what the political authorities believe is the truth. (Cynical views of how to exploit political situations may be part of that practical truth, though rarely expressed publicly!)
In a democracy freedom to put forth in public fora what one believes true is essential. At the present moment, in Canada, as dangerous a campaign as has ever been seen to restrict the debate of certain fundamental moral issues, a movement spearheaded by what should be the chief protectors of our democratic traditions – certain judges and a few members of parliament – is threatening to shut the mouths of persons with ancient, defensible moral convictions.
I beg everyone who sees this newsletter to take the time to read the CCRL website with utmost attention, and as soon as possible [www.ccrl.ca]. Those without Internet access, please ask a friend to share this information with you. The decision of the BC Supreme Court to muzzle Christopher Kempling a secondary school teacher from Quesnel, BC, not just from presenting his views on same-sex marriage in class (anyway he has been careful to avoid this) but as a private citizen writing in public newspapers. The court’s argument implies that Kempling’s position is per se unacceptable. There are active members of the CCRL who are seriously worried that if the Supreme Court of Canada upholds such a twisted reasoning they themselves will risk being fired.
The State persecuting Christians for their beliefs is not new. We have learned with time that for the sake of the society as a whole we must fight back vigorously.
The League is promoting an initiative to send one million postcards to the Prime Minister calling on the government to defend marriage.
We ask you to find three people to join you in signing the postcards printed on the back page of this newsletter (or on line at http://www.countthecost.ca ) and to put them in the mail postage free. Or, better yet, take it upon yourself to photocopy the postcards onto card stock paper and to get as many of these cards signed as possible.
If each CCRL member got 25 of these postcards signed that would be 50,000 people sending Paul Martin a strong message to defend marriage. Please use your creativity to determine how you can help us generate the largest number of signed postcards.
For more information on this initiative, or to get a larger volume (200 or more) of pre-printed postcards please contact us at 416-466-8244 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Director, CCRL Western Region
Marriage commissioners in British Columbia have been ordered to perform and register so-called ‘marriages’ between persons of the same sex, or resign. M.P. Vic Toews has complained that the demand is inconsistent with an employer’s obligation to accommodate the religious and moral beliefs of employees. He reminds us of the general rule that an employee must not be forced to do something contrary to his conscientious convictions.
However, Mr. Toews has overlooked an exception to the general rule. Employers do not have to accommodate unlawful conduct.
Taking its cue from our ruling elites- especially, it seems, our judges – Vital Statistics has decided that it is unlawful to refuse to perform a marriage ceremony for persons of the same sex. Religious and moral convictions to the contrary are, to put it politely, mistaken. Less politely, they are trash. And employers are entitled to put out the trash. Hence the ultimatum: conform or quit.
The ultimatum may alert more people to the fact that this project is not about tolerance. It never has been. The real goal, all along, has been nothing less than the compulsory public affirmation of the purported goodness of homosexual activity and inclinations.1 The judges who invented the legal fiction that persons of the same sex can marry demand not tolerance, but “society’s approbation” of homosexual relationships.2 If that requires the public degradation and punishment of those who refuse to bend the knee, so be it.
Nothing less than this will do, because guilty consciences will settle for nothing less, even if, as Jay Budziszewski observes, it is at the cost of “marriage, family, innocence, purity, childhood” – “even if it means pulling down the world around their ears.”3
Budziszewski ascribes this frantic effort to silence all opposition to ‘the revenge of conscience’. The law written on the human heart cannot be obliterated. It can be denied, but the reproach of conscience at the deepest levels never, ever stops. That is why tolerance is, finally, intolerable; it is less than acceptance, less than approval. “If you cannot convert your critics by argument,” writes historian John Thomas Noonan, “at least by law you can make them recognize that your course is the course of the country.”4
Thus, to BC marriage commissioners: conform or quit. Or, coming soon, go to jail.
Courtesy Svend Robinson and a majority of the Liberal, NDP and Bloc Quebecois parties, Bill C250 will make it a ‘hate crime’ to publicly challenge the morality of homosexual conduct if it is likely that such challenges will “lead to a breach of the peace.”
A “breach of the peace” is conduct like threats, assault or disturbance that involves some danger to a person or property.5 Bill C250 does not specify that the speaker must intend this result, nor that the breach must follow directly from what is said. Moreover, this part of the bill makes no allowance for statements about religious or public issues, even if they are made in good faith, even if they are true.
So when can it be said that a statement is ‘likely’ to lead to a breach of the peace?
Just about any time, as it turns out. In 2000, the Attorney General of BC, through counsel, argued that if people are allowed to speak publicly against homosexual conduct and lifestyles it will validate “anti-gay and lesbian attitudes” and increase the risk that people involved in homosexual conduct will be assaulted or harassed.6
In other words, if a minister, priest, bishop, imam or rabbi says something that homosexual activists find ‘hateful’- that people can and ought to resist or overcome certain sexual urges, for example – their words might ‘validate’ the notion that homosexual conduct is immoral. In turn, that notion might lead to a breach of the peace some time next week, or next month, or next summer. And that mere possibility, grounded in prejudiced speculation, will open the door for an indictment for ‘hate crime.’
Keep your mouths shut – even in synagogue, church or mosque – or get ready for a visit from the police.
If this seems far-fetched, ask the Rt. Reverend Dr. Peter Forster, Anglican Bishop of Chester, England. Last fall he stated that some people can overcome homosexual inclinations and “reorientate” themselves. He encouraged them to consider that option, qualifying his remarks with the comment that the subject was properly within the field of psychiatric health.7
What the bishop said was true,8 but for this very reason it is doubly galling to a guilty conscience, and conscience must have its revenge. Infuriated homosexual activists condemned Bishop Forster’s assertion as “scandalous”, “irresponsible” and “evil”, and he was denounced to the police for violating England’s Public Order Act.9 The investigation concluded with a reprimand from the local Chief Constable, who warned that such statements are ‘translated’ in ways “totally unacceptable” in a civilized society.10
This precisely reflects the reasoning of the BC Attorney General, the minister whose officers will be responsible for prosecuting people like Bishop Forster if Bill C250 becomes law.
The ultimatum from Vital Statistics demonstrates that the need for coy words like ‘tolerance’ is passing. BC’s marriage commissioners are only the latest to feel the bite of the morality being imposed by judicial decree. They will not be the last.
If Bill C250 becomes law, get ready for the knock on the door.
1.”There is a difference between tolerating and celebrating family diversity . . . Celebrating lesbian, gay or transgender-headed families means willingly supporting them and openly working on homophobia and transphobia within the schools.” (P. 28, Challenging Homophobia, GALE BC, quoted in review by Ted Hewlett dated March, 2001) From Tolerance to Affirmation: One School’s Experience with a Gay-Affirmative Program [http://www.narth.com/docs/fromtoler.html] (Accessed 5 February, 2004)
2. See Halpern et al, Court of Appeal for Ontario, 2003-06-10, Docket: C39172 and C39174, para. 5. [http://www.ontariocourts.on.ca/decisions/2003/june/halpernC39172.htm] (Accessed 5 February, 2004)
3. Budziszewski, J., What We Can’t Not Know: A Guide. Dallas, Texas: Spence Publishing, 2003, p. 153
4. Noonan, J.T., A Private Choice. New York: The Free Press, 1979, p. 82. Quoted in Budziszewski, supra, p. 154
5. Glanville Williams, Arrest for Breach of the Peace.  Crim. L.R. 578. See Frey vs. Fedoruk, 97 C.C.C. 3 (S.C.C.)
6. In the Matter of the Inquiry between an Applicant and the Ministry of Attorney General (Public Body) and Third Parties. Initial Submissions of the Public Body, 28 April, 2000, para. 4.29
7. Alleyne, Richard, Bishop’s anti-gay comments spark legal investigation.(Filed: 10/11/2003) [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2003/11/10/nbish10.xml&sSheet=/portal/2003/11/10/ixportal.html] (Accessed 4 February, 2004)
8. Archives of Sexual Behavior, Vol. 32, No. 5, October 2003, pp. 403-417. Cited in Roy Waller and Linda A. Nicolosi, Spitzer Study Just Published: Evidence Found for Effectiveness of Reorientation Therapy. [http://www.narth.com/docs/evidencefound.html] (Accessed 13 October, 2003)
9. Section 18 of the Public Order Act 1986 makes it an offence to use “threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour” in order to stir up racial hatred, or if racial hatred “is likely to be stirred up thereby.” [http://www.scotland.gov.uk/consultations/justice/wghc-13.asp] (Accessed 5 February, 2004)
10. Alleyne, supra.
Harden, Rachel, “Bishop rapped for urging gays to ‘reorientate’ themselves”. Church Times, [http://www.churchtimes.co.uk] (Accessed 4 February, 2004)
Viewers of CBC News: Sunday, February 15, 2004 will be forgiven if they perceive that they were the unwitting “wedding” guests of a same-sex couple.
While many Canadians were at their local church, CBC viewers looked at the following television lineup: Mr. Dressup, Zoboomafoo, Rolie Polie Olie, Little Bear, Franklin, four episodes of Coronation Street, and a same-sex “wedding”, all before noon.
On October 6, 2003, CBC Sunday advertised on a same-sex “marriage” website its intention to broadcast a same-sex “wedding” during the Sunday morning timeslot. The ceremony was to be telecast as part of CBC News: Sunday, purportedly as news or current events.
While mainstream Christians in Canada were celebrating and reflecting on the importance of maintaining heterosexual marriage, joining with fellow parishioners in the “Marriage on The Rock” or “Marriage Week” initiatives the CBC chose to broadcast an event that, according to recent polls, remains deeply troubling to most Canadians.
With this production, CBC executives indicated that they are prepared to display their partisanship for same-sex “marriage”. Your public broadcaster has gone from reporting the news to manufacturing it, from reporting public discussion to manipulating it.
What is particularly galling is that not only are we are forced, through our taxes, to pay for repeated legal attacks on marriage via the Court Challenges program, but now our taxes are being used to broadcast a calculated insult to those who do not share the ideological preferences of the CBC.
What’s more insulting is the cavalier effort on the part of producers of the Sunday program to seek some purported balance to the proceedings. Following the ceremony, and the related festivities, a panel of opponents to same-sex “marriage” was given an opportunity to comment.
This is the CBC’s idea of balance: manufacture a news event for over six months, and then seek in the last six days an opposing point of view.
Not surprisingly, all of the groups which have been involved in court cases in three provinces chose to stay away from the staged event. The Ontario bishops, the Catholic Civil Rights League, the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, and others were not prepared to be part of a staged exercise in manipulation of opinion.
It obviously did not occur to CBC’s reality programmers that this ceremony is morally objectionable to mainstream religious groups. Is it surprising that the CBC would ignore the sensitivities of religious persons who could not in good conscience participate in a ceremony which profanes the sacramental, complementary, and procreative understandings of marriage?
From its warped perspective, religious folks should merely bow down to CBC requests for comment and participation, to cover its rather meager obligation to show “balance”. It did not occur to the CBC that we take our convictions seriously, and not merely for the benefit of presenting the other side of a story. Strike that – a production.
In response to complaints, Advertising Standards Canada (ASC) unanimously ruled that MoonTaxi Media contravened the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards (clause 14c) by depicting a scantily clad nun in its national advertising campaign for Puretracks.com.
While acknowledging MoonTaxi Media’s defence of the image as “…visual imagery [used] to express the purity of our music audio, as well as the very essence of music itself – the individual creative spirit”, the ASC Council found that any depiction of a nun exposing her stomach or cleavage is as demeaning to Catholics as it is to nuns who, as servants of the Church, have committed their lives to virtue and celibacy.
We believe that this ruling, along with the Toronto Transit Commission’s ban of this ad in November, sends a clear signal that Catholics deserve the same protections afforded other identifiable groups in society. Deeming the deeply held beliefs and values of religious citizens is not acceptable in a country that values religious tolerance and civility.
Advertising Standards is the advertising industry’s self-regulatory mechanism, and as such, it does not hand out fines or order restitution for the offended parties. However, PureTracks.com and MoonTaxi Media immediately removed all of the offending ads displayed on billboards or otherwise across the country. Thank you to all of our members who pursued this issue as we ask in our Dec. 2003 newsletter.
The Catholic Civil Rights League, in cooperation with the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada is continuing an appeal of the decision of the Quebec Superior Court to redefine marriage. The case does not address the common law recognition of marriage but a statutory definition (because Quebec has a Civil Code that defines marriage). This may be a case that ends up being heard by the Supreme Court of Canada.
The Quebec Superior Court ruled that marriage as defined by the Quebec Civil Code and the federal harmonization bill must be changed to include same-sex couples. After the appeal was started, the Attorney General of Canada withdrew from the case. The religious interveners had status to continue the appeal. This may be the case we can appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada in order to bring these issues squarely before the courts.
This application was heard on January 26th, 2004 and the court reserved judgment. Please pray that we are granted status to continue this appeal.