Canada

Dear Government of Alberta

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By Justin Wishart

At Faith Beyond Belief we want to model how Christians can winsomely engage the public, including government officials. This is one letter that a concerned Christian parent wrote to a public official about the issue of transgenderism.

I am a proud father of two wonderful daughters. As their father, I take seriously the duty to protect and care for them. To me, their lives and well-being are more important to me than my own. Not only is this true emotionally, but I believe God, the maker of all things, gave me these daughters specifically with the mandate that I should love and protect them. This is as great an expression of my religious convictions as there is. In short, I love and care for them at a much deeper level than you are capable of.

This is the motivation behind my open letter. You have undermined the safety and dignity of my daughters with the adoption of the "Guidelines for Best Practices" document. Before I explain why this is so, I would like to explain why I created this open letter. I sent a letter to the Education Minister, David Eggen (NDP), and my MLA, Prasad Panda (Wildrose). Mr. Eggen replied with what appeared to be a generic form letter. It had the appearance of something sent any parent who may express some concern for these guidelines. The reply did not address even one of my concerns, not one. It seems clear that the Education Minister did not read what I sent and, judging by the response, they have not officially addressed the problems I see. Mr. Panda, as an MLA for the opposition party, offered me encouragement to make my issues known. I agree with Mr. Panda (thank you for actually addressing the concerns I raised) and this is the reason for this letter. When the safety of my children are at stake and my concerns are ignored, I am left with only two options: make this a public matter or remain quiet. My love for my daughters will not allow me to remain quiet.

The Best Practices document states that "strategies should be in place to ensure all areas of the school are safe for all students, all of the time." Yet, it is the document itself that undermines this goal. The primary issue I have is how the schools identify a transgendered person: "Self-identification is the sole measure of an individual's sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression." This clearly states that there are no other criteria which override a simple claim. No test, no medical evidence, nothing to confirm a person's claim. I understand why this is, as there is nothing that can possibly verify someone being transgendered. The document uses the term "evidence-based" throughout, but at the most basic level of this discussion, there is no "evidence-based" data for a subjective claim to transgenderism. It follows that anyone can make the claim, for any reason, and the school would simply accept it.

Put aside your political correctness for just a moment and think about that. One could claim transgenderism because the person feels like a girl trapped in a boy's body. Yet, another person could claim the same thing just because they want to look at naked girls. According to the Best Practices document, there is absolutely no way to tell one from the other. My daughters become potential victims, over and over again, and the school isn't allowed to stop it. This will allow a boy with sexual issues into my girl's washroom since students "are able to access washrooms that are congruent with their gender identity." This potential victimization of my daughters is not some vague theory. At the University of Toronto, they had to revise their inclusive washroom policy because of voyeurism. Two people were seen recording their victims as they used the washroom. How many more people were victimized this way without their knowledge? What would be different here?

Unfortunately, it gets worse. Not only should these false claimers be allowed into the washrooms, but also in change-rooms. "Students with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions have a right to accommodation when it comes to the use of washroom and change-room facilities that are congruent with their gender identity." How easy would it be for a boy to sneak a camera into a change-room because they falsely claim to be transgendered? Not only would you be allowing such a person to lewdly view my daughters, you set up a very real possibility of them being victimized on the Internet. This also applies to sport teams, as it states, "if sports teams are divided by gender, students are given the opportunity to participate on the team that reflects their gender identity and expression." As a former wrestler, I shudder at the thought of girls being forced to wrestle with boys who falsely claim transgenderism. This easily opens girls up to be molested by such people; all with the school's approval. Given these guidelines, how could you stop it? This does not even include the real possibility of an unfair physical disadvantage given to my daughters, and can discourage female participation in sports.

Yet, it even gets worse. This doesn't merely apply to students, but to adults as well. "Family members are able to access washrooms that are congruent with their gender identity." When pedophiles are given a ready excuse to be somewhere they should not be, this will merely embolden them. It is not outside the realm of possibility that a parent who is a pedophile slipping into the girl's washroom where my daughter is. There he will have uninhibited access to her. If a teacher happens to walk in before anything happened, the pedophile would simply claim transgenderism. The teacher becomes powerless to do anything at this point. Sure, she can wait around until he leaves, but the pedophile could simply attend the next function and try again until he is successful. Even if a "legitimate" transgender physical man walks into the washroom, my daughters could feel vulnerable and more than a bit frightened. This, then, undermines her sense of security. Things like this have happened. Christopher Hambrook, self-identifying as Jessica, was granted access to a woman's shelter where he sexually assaulted at least two women in Ontario. Hambrook had previous convictions including a sexual assault of a five-year-old girl and raping a 27-year-old woman. The proposed guidelines found within this document are similar to the Ontario laws which allowed Hambrook access to the vulnerable women. What's to prevent a "family member" from doing the same thing here?

Then, the Best Guidelines policy further undermines the dignity of my daughters. If they feel threatened or insecure, whether it is due to a real or perceived threat, they are shamed if they bring it up. "A student who objects to sharing a washroom or change-room with a student who is trans or gender-diverse is offered an alternative facility." It is my daughters who get paraded around the school, thus showing everyone how "intolerant" they are. This will marginalize them and open them up to ridicule. Not only does the policy undermine the safety and security of my daughters, they are publicly exposed and shamed if they decide not to be a victim.

I know it must be difficult for a student to feel that their physical sex doesn't match their internal sex. Growing up can be confusing enough without throwing something like this into the mix. I also, on a certain level, understand the government's desire to offer help to such students in this manner. I also find no solid evidence that this would even be helpful to children who claim transgenderism. What if these children experience gender dysphoria? Could these guidelines end up harming children by affirming their dysphoria?

I also demand, yes demand, that my daughters are not sacrificed on the altar of political correctness. To be clear, I do not think that every person, or even most people, who claim to be transgendered are predators. But, to be even more clear, predators will use the ideas expressed in these guidelines to help them catch their prey. It may not happen right away, but we can see that these things are happening in other jurisdictions. Let's have an open-minded and inclusive conversation about this, not the narrow-minded, politically-correct, and totalitarian approach these guidelines propose. The lives and well-being of my daughters depend on it.

Sincerely,

My daughters' father,

Justin Wishart

A Lesson in Power

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By Jojo Ruba

When we were younger, my parents only let us watch one show on school nights, the nightly news. Back then, it was only half an hour long and it aired at the right time—just after dinner and before we had to do our homework. Though I first resented the rule, I quickly began to enjoy knowing about what was happening in the world. I particularly loved the back-and-forth of political news. I enjoyed watching the debates and following the candidates and on rare occasions, I would be allowed to stay up late to watch the election results roll in.

That is probably one of the reasons why I went to our nation's capital to study journalism and politics in university. What I found in Ottawa was a great political community. Everyone was either working for the government or was related to someone who was, and so they deeply cared about how our country runs.

CanadianFederalElection2015PollingStationI also found Christians who were passionate about making government work. Whether they were civil servants or partisans on Parliament Hill, they truly wanted to bring our values as Christians to the marketplace of ideas. They strongly believed Christians had something positive to contribute to the country. There were days where I even imagined running for office and gaining political power.

Yet as I watched the most recent election results roll in, I couldn't help but feel personally rejected, as if Christians like me would never be part of the political world again. This had nothing to do, of course, with which party won the election—Christians have been involved in all the major parties, and we at Faith Beyond Belief take no partisan stance. But it has everything to do with what was said during the election—that Christians who didn't take a pro-choice view on abortion or pro-same-sex marriage stance were not even allowed to run for office on behalf of some parties. And when Canadians chose one of these parties to govern us, they wholeheartedly said they had no problem with this view. For the first time in Canadian history, then, no practising Christian with a Christian worldview will sit on the government benches on Parliament Hill.

When I point this out, I get pushback. Some Christians argue that there are practicing believers in government, like the health minister who apparently attends a Mennonite church.[1] But the point I am making is not that there aren't people who call themselves Christian on the government side of the House. It's that there is no one who holds a Christian worldview on that side of the house. Columnist Rex Murphy said it this way:

As things now are, a truly religious person must actually stay out of politics—must forgo an active role in democratic government—because in our brazen and new age, he or she will be faced with irreconcilable moral choices. If elected, he or she will be required to betray their faith and themselves, and on those very issues that matter most: issues of life, family, autonomy and the dignity of persons.[2]

When a political leader insists that those who run for his party must be willing to put that party's beliefs ahead of their faith's teachings, then its clear their faith is compromised. Abortion particularly is a tricky issue to enforce such a rigid morality. Given that Christians, and frankly many people of many faiths and no faith, believe that abortion takes the life of a human being like us, it is impossible to be "pro-choice" on taking those lives. It would be akin to saying I personally oppose killing gay people but it's okay if others choose to kill gay people. From a Christian perspective, killing innocent people is not something you can just be "pro-choice" about and still be a faithful Christian.

It's ironic that so many Canadians argued that requiring a Muslim to temporarily uncover her face while voting was prejudiced and anti-Muslim, but requiring a Christian to compromise her faith's teaching to value all human life before she could be part of the government, was not.

Of course it isn't just practising Christians who are excluded. Muslims, Hindus and even many atheists take the same life-saving position. I met a Sikh representative at my door of one of the parties who takes the radical pro-abortion stance that abortions even at the ninth month of pregnancy should be legal and publicly funded for any or no reason at all (the current law in Canada). He was trying to get me to put up a lawn sign for them. But as I quizzed him about his faith, it was obvious he didn't agree with his party's extreme stance. I asked him, "How can you support a party that won't let you run for them unless you compromise your faith?" I was expecting an argument but instead, he glumly agreed saying I was right and walked off visibly shaken.

Unfortunately, the lack of Christian representation also gets another response: sheer happiness. Many Canadians are glad to get rid of any religious, particularly Christian, influence from the public sphere. One Canadian I debated in an on-line forum insisted that religious people could only participate in politics if they first swear allegiance to the government. I told him that's exactly what the Communists in China and North Korea insist on doing and the comparison didn't bother him.

In fact, it's an ongoing story in Canada: BC's Trinity Western University has a biblical moral code for its staff and students, and because of that code, is in courts across Canada just to ensure their law students can actually practice law. In Quebec, all schools except for a handful must teach that religious views can't be right or wrong—they are all equal. In Ontario, an African church is banned from using public property in downtown Toronto because city officials think singing "There is no God like Jehovah" is proselytizing.

When I debated a top Canadian atheist at the University of Calgary, she insisted that all religious influence be removed from political life. Christians and other religious people can practice their faith, but that faith should have no influence on public policy.

I responded by saying that religious people, particularly Christians, have positively influenced politics too. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Baptist pastor when he fought for civil rights for African-Americans, and one of the founding fathers of the NDP was a Baptist pastor named Tommy Douglas who fought for nationalized healthcare because of his Christian views of taking care of others. Interestingly enough, she conceded this point but said only values that can benefit everyone should be allowed to influence government.

And that's why the move to exclude faith from the public sphere is so heartbreaking. These arguments come from people who don't realize that Christ did come to earth to benefit everyone. That's not an invitation to force people to become Christians through the government (as I pointed out during another debate with that atheist, Christians don't consider people who are forced to convert to our faith as actual Christians, so we have no incentive to do so), but it is a reminder of what Christians ought to do in a culture that is increasingly hostile to us.

Rather than lamenting about being excluded from political power, I realized that the power Christians have isn't found in Ottawa or in politics. It is found in what Jesus said about who is greatest in His kingdom. In Mark 9, in response to His disciples arguing about who was the greatest, Jesus said, "If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all." Jesus' life showed that real power didn't come through the one who wielded the biggest sword or who made the most brilliant campaign ad. Instead, His message transformed the world because His power was accepting how much others hated Him and His views and then choosing to serve them anyway, even at the cost of His life.

And this is our commitment at Faith Beyond Belief too. Regardless of who is in government and how much they want to exclude us, we will continue to speak from God's word; we will continue to share how much He cares both for the preborn and the poor; we will continue to offer as an alternative to this culture's insistence that any sexual act will do, His plan for real wholeness for the sexually broken and confused; and no matter how many times we are told that we are no longer welcome in the public arena, we will continue to go those public places so we can proclaim that there is no God like Jehovah as we wash our enemies' feet. And in doing so we pray many understand that power that raised Jesus from the dead is alive today in a church that still chooses to be a servant of all.


[1] Dick Benner, "Philpott Named New Health Minister," Canadian Mennonite, November 4, 2015, accessed November 12, 2015, http://www.canadianmennonite.org/stories/philpott-named-new-health-minister.

[2] Rex Murphy, "In Justin Trudeau's World, Christians Need Not Apply," National Post, June 21, 2014, accessed November 12, 2015, http://news.nationalpost.com/full-comment/rex-murphy-in-justin-trudeaus-world-christians-need-not-apply.

Cutting Through the Rhetoric on Election Day

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This post is by guest blogger Paul Buller. Though FBB doesn't take any partisan stands, what Paul writes is an important part of understanding what we should think about as Christian voters.

As anybody in Faith Beyond Belief can tell you, Christianity is far more than just an internal set of beliefs about the hereafter. It is an all-encompassing worldview that informs and clarifies every aspect of life. One area of life about which Christianity has much to say is the area of government, but even with respect to this domain of human activity, Christians can vary widely in their perspectives. What exactly is the "Christian" view on various political issues? Self-proclaimed Christians spread themselves right across the political spectrum.

Politics has been on the radar for many Canadians lately, with the upset victory of the NDP in Alberta as well as the impending federal election looking to be a game-changer. As competing political philosophies spar for our vote, wouldn't it be nice to cut through all the rhetoric, philosophizing and divergent theological interpretations of "How would Jesus vote?" and just consider a more basic question: which political philosophies actually work and which don't? Which political policies actually have a track record of making life better for people, and which have a track record of making life worse?

By knehcsg (Ontario Election  Uploaded by Skeezix1000) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsTo this end, I have penned a short book titled For the Love of Alberta. In this book I present a very brief and introductory case to the effect that left-leaning political philosophy makes promises that are both grander and more compassionate than right-leaning policies, but, when implemented, these policies not only fail to deliver their promises, but actually end up making life worse for people. Although policies from the right end of the political spectrum don't sound nearly as compassionate or concerned for the "little guy" as policies from the left end of the political spectrum, they end up having a significantly more positive effect when implemented than do policies originating from the left. Right-leaning policies are actually much better for the little guy, contra the caricatures that often come from the political left.

To make my case I document the following:

  1. Canadians are more likely to move out of a "progressive" province than move into one. This is especially clear when we consider the history of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
  2. Provinces with progressive tax policies (higher taxes on the wealthy, lower on the poor) have more people in, or near, poverty and they also have a lower median income for all citizens.
  3. Higher taxes on corporations produce much the same results as described above.
  4. Increasing the minimum wage also has much the same impact; people tend to leave the province, earn less if they stay, and are flirting with poverty.
  5. The "gold standard" family structure is (and always has been) children being raised by their biological parents, who are in a life-long, stable, married relationship. Deviate from this standard and not only do children suffer, but so do the adults who experiment with alternative family structures.
  6. As evidence of the previous point, communities in Calgary with a higher proportion of so-called "traditional" families have lower crime, higher education, and less unemployment.

If you are looking for a quick read to wrap your mind around why right-leaning policy has a better track record (despite sounding less compassionate than the alternative), or if you would like some kind of resource you can share with your left-leaning friends, perhaps For the Love of Alberta could be such a resource. I have made the book available for free as a PDF at my website, www.ForTheLoveOfAlberta.ca, or you can buy a hard copy if (like me) you prefer something tangible in your hands.

Some (Same-sex) Marriage Advice from Canada, Part 2

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By Jojo Ruba

In the first part of my article, I made a list of what Americans can expect after the ruling on same-sex marriage last week. As Canadians, we've observed how our rights are being taken away and our voices not-so-slowly being silenced. But there are three important lessons that Americans can take away from the Canadian experience as you deal with the repercussions of same-sex marriage.

What You Need to Do

1. Stop Making This About You

We share your concerns about the ramifications of same-sex marriage to culture and to individual and religious liberty. But, frankly, when we complain about losing our charitable status or make our religious liberties the centerpiece of our arguments against same-sex marriage, we sound just as self-absorbed as the culture that celebrates it. It makes it sound like Christians care more about the money or power.

By Allan Ajifo [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsAs believers, the greatest damage decisions like this have is to limit the freedom to speak God's truth to a hurting culture. One of the lines we use at Faith Beyond Belief is that rather than hating the sin but loving the sinner, we must hate the sin because we love the sinner. God wants us to speak out against destructive behaviour like pornography, divorce, and yes, same-sex marriage, because it damages the people involved. Though we've made brilliant arguments for traditional marriage, I see few articulate why same-sex marriage actually harms the consenting adults who participate in it.

And that's why we also need to stop apologizing for all Christians! I know we're Canadian and we apologize for everything, but don't apologize for trying to love people. Not every Christian is a jerk who has no empathy for same-sex-attracted people. For the most part, Christians are doing their best to show God's love in this situation. They just don't know how.

Instead, let's start by following what Jesus says are the greatest commands: love God first and then love our neighbours as we love ourselves—and aren't there times when we need a bit of tough love?

2. Fear Not

A Calgary Herald columnist actually defended discrimination against Christians based on the issue of homosexuality because, she said, other Christians don't all agree on homosexuality. She argued that it is "extremist" to hold the view that practicing homosexuals will go to Hell, and anyone who holds such views should be screened out of public office.

She quoted Kris Wells, director of the Institute for Sexual Minority Studies at the University of Alberta, who told the National Post: "I have no problem with people of faith running for public office. It's about how one exercises that faith. . . ."[1]

In other words, the director of a pro-gay organization gets to determine how Christians who go into public office should be able to practice their faith. And the Herald columnist calls Christians the extreme ones!

This columnist, however, can only get away with saying something so inane because so many of our culture—and worse, our churches—no longer understand what Christians believe. For example, the Bible Engagement Study found that 69% of Canadians believe the Bible is full of irreconcilable contradictions, but 55% of Canadians have never read the Bible![2]

But that kind of confusion in a once biblically literate culture can only happen when Christians fail to educate others about the Bible. Worse, we can't educate non-believers about our faith if we don't know it ourselves.

I've spoken across Canada for over a decade on issues like abortion and homosexuality, and I can tell you countless stories of Christian leaders and laypeople telling me that they didn't want to hear from me. Most church members I talk to also can't recall a time when their pastor ever talked about homosexuality. Some pastors simply refuse to talk about such issues.[3]

And when we stopped talking about these issues, we stopped linking biblical truth to the relevant issues in our culture. That's why so many Christians can't articulate a well-reasoned explanation for their faith on issues such as truth, morality, and sexuality. We're too ill-informed and too scared to speak.

Yet this level of biblical ignorance is not a time for fear. It is a time for faith. Have you noticed how the debate on same-sex marriage invariably turns into discussion of the Bible and God's will? Rather than running away from it as many Canadians have, why don't you take it as an opportunity to explain the Christian worldview to your friends? Discuss the issue with family members who have rainbow-coloured FB pictures. And of course, before you do, understand what the biblical worldview is. Take this as an opportunity for you to learn why God's love for humanity means discouraging harmful behaviour like homosexuality.

3. Keep Fighting the Good Fight

An apologist friend of mine recently insisted that the "culture war is over" and that "we lost" and we should move on to other issues. He said we can't expect a non-Christian culture to act like Christians.

Interestingly, when I asked him if he was glad William Wilberforce, the abolitionist, didn't share that sentiment, he never responded. If Christian leaders like him gave up on fights against slavery or racial discrimination, the world we would live in would not only be far worse, but it would be far harder to share the gospel to it.

In fact, many Canadian Christians use the "we lost" sentiment to never raise controversial issues again. They have capitulated to culture and act no differently than their secular colleagues. The more "normal" sin gets, the harder it is want to be "abnormal" by speaking out against it.

But as our American friends get used to the new "normal," please remember this:The day before the U.S. legalized same-sex marriage, I was speaking about homosexuality to a church youth group where two young women recently came out as bisexual. Both approached me at the end of my talk and thanked me for it. One in particular told me that she was trying her best to be faithful to God's word but it was so hard because the rest of culture is telling her just to act on her feelings.

I explained to her what I've learned when I've struggled with unwanted sexual attractions—that God understands how we feel and grieves with us. Though we might think the most loving thing to do for someone is to enter into a relationship with them, the most loving thing we can do is to introduce them to Christ. She agreed and said she would do her best to follow Jesus first.

The fight to normalize homosexuality in the U.S. may have been fought over a few months in a courtroom, but it's a daily battle for people like this young woman who want to do the right thing. Your court just made it harder for her to do so.

Rather than giving up and claiming all is lost, don't you think people like her need Christians who are willing to speak truth when no one else does? That's why we have to keep speaking—because millions of people like this girl need to know that only Jesus can bring hope to a confused culture and their confused hearts.


[1] Naomi Lakritz, "It's Not Anti-Christian—It's Anti-Extremist," Calgary Herald, September 19, 2014, accessed July 2, 2015, http://calgaryherald.com/opinion/lakritz-its-not-anti-christian-its-anti-extremist.

[2] "Are Canadians Done with the Bible?," Canadian Bible Forum, accessed July 8, 2015, http://www.bibleengagementstudy.ca.

[3] Jonathan Merritt, "Hillsong's Brian Houston Says Church Won't Take Public Position on LGBT Issues, Jonathan Merritt on Faith & Culture (blog), Oct. 16, 2014, accessed July 7, 2015, http://jonathanmerritt.religionnews.com/2014/10/16/hillsongs-brian-houston-says-church-lgbt-issues/.

Some (Same-sex) Marriage Advice from Canada, Part 1

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By Jojo Ruba

As I've followed the news, read the blogs, and filtered through the endless stream of rainbow-coloured Facebook pictures, it's obvious that our culture is confused about how to react to the legalization of same-sex marriage in the U.S.

It's even worse for us as Christians who've run the gamut from celebrating the decision, to despairing of the decision, to apologizing for either reaction!

But as a Canadian organization, we've seen this before. Canada legalized same-sex marriage about 10 years ago and it's important we share with our U.S. friends what happened here. Canada is like the canary in the mine for the U.S. since we're years ahead of you in terms of social change. That's why what happens to us can serve as a warning of what will happen to you.

White House rainbow colors to celebrate June 2015 SCOTUS same-sex marriage rulingAnd though no Christians have been thrown in jail yet for our faith, the legalization of same-sex marriage is a huge step in marginalizing the Christian worldview and making it more difficult to share a biblical faith with our secular culture.

Not thrown in jail yet but . . .

Many of my American friends (at least on Facebook) are already preparing for the worst. They're anticipating churches losing their charitable status or Christian organizations being banned from sharing their beliefs. But that's likely not going to happen right away.

The first thing that will happen is not much. The most important goal proponents of same-sex marriage have is to normalize it, and changing the law is a big step in making that happen. Using that decision to beat up Christians (at least right away) will be counter-productive to that goal.

1. Which is Worse, Ignorance or Evil?

That doesn't mean that there won't be an odd decision by a gay rights group or the local civil liberties association here and there. But most of these activities will be done because of ignorance, not malice.

For example, last year, the city council of a small Canadian tourist town banned Christians from using public property. The Nanaimo city council was to host a leadership simulcast on city property. The conference had nothing to do with sexuality and featured such benign (at least on the topic) speakers as Bishop Desmond Tutu and Laura Bush.

But two gay activists called a city councillor and complained to him that the conference was sponsored by Chick-fil-A, whose president supported traditional marriage campaigns, and hosted Christian psychologist Dr. Henry Cloud, who believes that same-sex attractions can be changed. This prompted the councillor to pass a motion that read

that as owners of the facility, any events that are associated with organizations or people that promote or have a history of divisiveness, homophobia, or other expressions of hate, and as such advise the [city-owned centre] to not permit the upcoming Leadercast event to occur in a City owned facility that is scheduled for Saturday, May the 9th.[1]

After comparing anyone who disagreed with their views on sexuality to criminals and Boko Haram kidnappers (who ironically force Christian girls to convert to Islam), the council passed the motion 8-1. Most of the national media ignored the story.

After an outcry from the local Christian community, human rights groups, and one Jewish reporter, the council sheepishly rescinded the motion, as it likely violated Canada's constitution. But the council's decision laid bare the ignorance of so many Canadians about Christian teachings on sexuality. Banning anyone from using public property because they believe sexuality can be changed would of course ban the Apostle Paul, but also many top gay researchers who openly acknowledge that sexuality is not immutable.[2]

The same thing will happen as Americans become more biblically illiterate. They will pass motions that directly contravene not only Christian belief but the right of Christians to put those beliefs into practice. I asked William Lane Craig once which was worse, a culture that was stupid or a culture that was evil. He laughed and he said they were very similar because one leads to another.

2. Treating Sexual Behaviour as Identity

The more likely place to start for these groups is to ensure that any vestige of treating homosexuality as abnormal is removed. This is the most obvious next step because well-meaning people can be convinced that they are doing a good.

For example, the openly lesbian premier of Ontario recently banned counseling for teens and preteens who want to change their same-sex attractions.[3] Though New Jersey, among other places, beat her to that, the push to get rid of any kind of help for people with unwanted same-sex attractions will get stronger. They believe it is harmful to want to change your sexual orientation just as it would be wrong to want to change your racial or ethnic identity.

Another way to normalize same-sex behaviour is to target schools. The former education minister of Alberta, himself a former pastor of a local megachurch, was instrumental in passing a law forcing all schools that get government funding, including Christian schools, to host gay-straight alliance groups (GSAs).[4] GSAs openly promote homosexuality as normal and any opposition as intolerance. In fact, the Alberta Teachers' Association's own website gives advice on how to start a GSA in religious schools and how to overcome religious opposition to their views.[5]

3. Redefining theology

Targeting religious institutions as the source of opposition is, of course, key to normalizing homosexuality. But not all of the action will be direct or through the law.

My colleague Janie recently described a Canadian group that put on a seminar on sexuality in our city last year. The group calls itself Christian and tries to create an open dialogue on homosexuality in churches. Rather than outright calling homosexuality acceptable, they want to create "space" for their view and argue that the Bible can be interpreted to both oppose and support same-sex sexual relations.[6]

Taking a page from Matthew Vines and his Reformation Project, they've tasked their adherents to go into local Canadian churches to begin this "dialogue" with the explicit goal to change the theological teachings of their churches and to get them to eventually accept their views on sexuality.

This subtle approach (they compare the controversy over homosexuality to the controversy over the eating of food sacrificed to idols) is very Canadian because it avoids confrontation. But it is meant to achieve the same goal as changing the law: normalizing homosexuality.

4. Who Can Come Out

Since the legalization of same-sex marriage, Canadians have become used to it and many of the subtle approaches no longer need to be subtle.

Now, if you want to work at any government department that administers marriage certificates, you must be willing to perform same-sex ceremonies.[7] Even businesses that take a stand against the issue can be targeted for their beliefs.[8]

The most egregious example of this is what is happening to Trinity Western University's law program. Trinity, Canada's only private Christian university, wants to start a law program. But several law societies in Canada have openly stated that they will refuse to recognize any student who graduates from that program because of the school's policy on homosexuality. Trinity has a code of conduct for all of its students. Though students don't have to be Christians to go to school, they must adhere to a code of conduct where they agree to having no sexual relationships outside of a traditional marriage.[9]

These law societies argue that Trinity graduates cannot practice law because they hold views contrary to the law of the land. In other words, the only lawyers that they will accept are those that support same-sex marriage. (Of course, they didn't take that position when the law of the land was against same-sex marriage.)

These societies have made these decisions through plebiscites of their own members. And I've heard through lawyer friends how even some Christian lawyers have voted to ban graduates from Trinity out of fear of losing their jobs or promotions.

The fight is still in the courts but this echoes another fight the school had a decade ago over Christian teachers who graduated from the school. Back then, teachers' unions refused graduates from the school because they saw them as "homophobic" and therefore incapable of teaching gay students.

Though the courts eventually mandated that the teachers' college could not discriminate against Christians, this kind of harassment of Christian institutions will continue and get worse.[10]

Human Rights Commissions, quasi-judicial bodies that act like courts on some human rights cases, have had a history of punishing Christians for their views on homosexuality. One case punished a pastor for writing a letter against homosexuality in his local paper. The commission ruled that the pastor could not even speak about homosexuality at his church or in conversation (thankfully this was overturned, but only after a long, expensive legal process)![11]

Recently, Canada's Supreme Court ruled that even if Bible verses told the truth, if they were offensive enough to others, they could still be considered hate speech. In other words, truth is no longer a defense in Canada, especially on this issue.[12]

Both cases show that when truth is no longer a standard, the only standard left is the feelings of the most sensitive person in the room.

Knowing that this is what to expect, how should Christians prepare? In part 2 of this article, we will suggest three lessons Americans can take from Canada's experience with same-sex marriage.


[1] You can watch a clip of Ezra Levant speaking on this on Sun News at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uUaODful6vY.

[2] Jonathan Morrow, "(Part 6) Answering the Toughest Questions About Homosexuality with Alan Shlemon," Think Christianly (blog), January 25, 2012, accessed July 2, 2015, http://thinkchristianly.blogspot.ca/2012/01/part-6-answering-toughest-questions.html.

[3] Rob Ferguson, "Ontario Becomes First Province to Ban 'Conversion Therapy' for LGBTQ children," Toronto Star, Jun 04 2015, accessed July 2, 2015, http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2015/06/04/ontario-becomes-first-province-to-ban-conversion-therapy-for-lgbtq-children.html.

[4] Mariam Ibrahim and Karen Kleiss, "Gay-straight Alliances Now Mandatory in Alberta: 'We're No Longer That Redneck, Roughneck Province,'" National Post, March 11, 2015, accessed July 2, 2015, http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/gay-straight-alliances-now-mandatory-in-alberta-were-no-longer-that-redneck-roughneck-province.

[5] Kristopher Wells, Gay-Straight Alliances: A Guide for Teachers (Edmonton: Alberta Teachers' Association, 2006), 26, http://www.teachers.ab.ca/SiteCollectionDocuments/ATA/Publications/Human-Rights-Issues/Gay–Straight%20Student%20Alliances%20in%20Alberta%20Schools%20A%20Guide%20for%20Teachers.pdf.

[6] Janie Bont, "Finding Space for the Bible in 'Generous Spaciousness'", Faith Beyond Belief (blog), November 20, 2014, accessed July 2, 2015, http://www.faithbeyondbelief.ca/2014/11/20/finding-space-for-the-bible-in-generous-spaciousness/.

[7] "Marriage officials can't refuse gays: Sask. Court, CBC News, Jan 10, 2011, accessed July 2, 2015, http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/marriage-officials-can-t-refuse-gays-sask-court-1.1011669.

[8] "Jewelry store to refund engagement ring deposit to same-sex couple," CBC News, May 19, 2015, accessed July 2, 2015, http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/jewelry-store-to-refund-engagement-ring-deposit-to-same-sex-couple-1.3078557.

[9] Kelly McParland, "Crusade Against Trinity Western Law School Runs Up Against a Sensible Judge," National Post, January 30, 2015, accessed July 7, 2015, http://news.nationalpost.com/full-comment/kelly-mcparland-crusade-against-trinity-western-law-school-runs-up-against-an-intelligent-judge.

[10] Trinity Western University v. British Columbia College of Teachers, [2001] 1 S.C.R. 772, 2001 S.C.C. 31 (CanLII), May 17, 2001, accessed July 2, 2015, http://www.canlii.org/en/ca/scc/doc/2001/2001scc31/2001scc31.html.

[11] Jenn Ruddy, "Stephen Boissoin on Free Speech, Porn and His Anti-Gay Letter," Daily Xtra, December 8, 2009, accessed July 2, 2015, http://www.dailyxtra.com/canada/news-and-ideas/news/stephen-boissoin-free-speech-porn-and-anti-gay-letter-52317. See also "Lund v Boissoin," Wikipedia, updated January 7, 2015, accessed July 2, 2015, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lund_v_Boissoin.

[12] Bruce Bawer, "Canadian Supreme Court Kills Last Hope for Free Speech," Frontpage Mag, February 28, 2013, accessed July 2, 2015, http://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/179449/canadian-supreme-court-kills-last-hope-free-speech-bruce-bawer.

Développer une vision du monde politique : des suggestions

Centre-Block-under-construction-1863.jpg

par Pasteur Stéphane Gagné

Récemment, le premier ministre du Canada a fait un commentaire au sujet de la légitimité de l’usage des armes à feu pour la légitime défense. Cela a engendré plusieurs commentaires sur la blogosphère y compris parmi la population chrétienne canadienne qui a traditionnellement l’habitude d’être moins impliquée sur les questions sociales politiques que leurs contemporains américains. Parmi les blogueurs chrétiens francophones les plus médiatisés, j’ai vu passer des questions plutôt inusitées telles qu’« Un bon chrétien devrait-il avoir des armes à feu? » et d’autres plus fréquemment entendus comme le fameux « Un bon chrétien doit-il forcément voter conservateur? ». Vous avez probablement déjà entendu la suivante : « Un chrétien ne devrait pas se mêler de politique. Où est-il écrit dans la bible que l’on devrait se mêler des affaires du gouvernement? »

On voit dernière cette dernière question que notre mentalité « chrétienne » en matière de politique est loin de ressembler à celle de nos frères chrétiens américains qui eux sont généralement beaucoup plus partisans. Qui est responsable du flou directionnel en la matière? J’ose prétendre que ce sont nos leaders religieux canadiens. Normal, puisqu’eux-mêmes ont été enseignés avec les mêmes manquements en la matière!

L'édifice du Centre de la Colline du Parlement, en construction en 1863.Le fait est que la Bible regorge littéralement d’exemples de personnages qui ont été en contact avec les autorités gouvernementales de leurs époques respectives. Abraham, Isaac et Joseph ont traité avec des rois et des pharaons. Ensuite Moïse, Josué ainsi que plusieurs des juges d’Israël, Esdras, Esther, Néhémie, de même que Daniel et la plupart des prophètes mentionnés dans l’Ancien Testament. Le Nouveau Testament ouvre avec l’arrivée de Jean le baptiste qui a lui-même fréquenté le roi Hérode. Le roi rencontra aussi Jésus. Même chose pour le gouverneur de l’époque : Ponce Pilate. L’apôtre Paul s’est entretenu fréquemment avec le gouverneur Félix et ensuite Festus ainsi que le roi Hérode Agrippa II. En étudiant chacun de ces faits, on peut réaliser que l’influence politique des hommes de Dieu tout au long de l’histoire de la Bible est d’une portée tout à fait inouïe.

Cela rend d’autant plus surprenant le fait que cet aspect des faits historiques répertoriés dans la Bible ne soit pas davantage mis en lumière dans notre culture chrétienne. D’où nous vient cette crainte à aborder les réalités politiques de notre nation? Peut-être vient-elle des mêmes craintes qui ont longtemps porté l’église à s’éloigner de la musique contemporaine propre à chacune des époques où elle a vécu. Au fil des époques, la plupart des églises qui se croyaient conservatrices face à la musique contemporaine utilisaient en réalité, une musique de style ancien, mais que leurs prédécesseurs avaient refusé avant eux pour les mêmes raisons. Nos grands hymnes classiques d’aujourd’hui étaient jadis boudés par plusieurs chrétiens sous prétexte qu’ils étaient modelés sur les airs de chants de soirée dans les pubs et les tavernes de leur temps. Ironiquement, ce qui était pour l’époque considéré comme des chants au style plus approprié aux soirées de beuveries est désormais considéré comme inspiré d’une époque de plus grande révérence spirituelle. Autrement dit, cela relève tout simplement d’une certaine crainte à faire la mauvaise chose, et possiblement aussi d’un manque de vision et de connaissance. Il faut avouer que le sujet de la politique (tout comme celui de la musique à l’époque) a le potentiel d’amener la division s’il est mal interprété.

Trop souvent, le simple mot « politique » inspire des images d’idéalismes qui frôlent parfois le fanatisme. La triste raison en incombe pour beaucoup à nos dirigeants politiques qui projettent parfois cette image eux-mêmes. Pourtant il n’en demeure pas moins essentiel de s’éduquer à développer un point de vue (vision du monde) chrétien sur le sujet.

J’ai été à même de constater un fait particulier de plusieurs pasteurs sur le sujet. En effet, des pasteurs m’ont plus d’une fois confié que de leurs confrères, j’étais celui qui connaissait le mieux le sujet de la politique. Pourtant, j’ai aussi pu constater qu’à leurs yeux cela ne représentait pas une grande valeur pour le ministère. Il ne s’agissait pas d’un quelconque mépris de leur part, mais simplement d’un manque de compréhension. Cette réalisation m’est apparue lorsque j’ai vu répétitivement ces collègues aller vers de mauvaises personnes chercher des conseils sur des sujets qu’eux ne connaissaient pas. Il pouvait s’agir de conseil en matière de droits, de commerce, d’éducation, de communications, de marketing; divers sujets que plusieurs pasteurs ne connaissent pas particulièrement, mais pour lesquelles aucun d’entre eux n’a pensé à venir me voir. Éventuellement, je me suis assis avec certains d’entre eux pour prendre le temps de leur faire réaliser que la plupart des premiers ministres n’ont pas de diplômes d’études en tant que politiciens, mais plus souvent des formations en commerce, en droit, ou comme journalistes, ou même médecins (l’actuel Premier ministre du Québec est neurologue). Autrement dit; je leur ai fait comprendre que la politique n’était pas un domaine fermé avec une définition close et limitée. Souvent, notre vision de la politique se résume à une poignée de gens idéalistes et fermés d’esprit qui se réfute obstinément une chambre remplie de leurs collègues. Nous en venons à oublier les enjeux et le grand savoir social contenu dans un tel groupe et qui représente un grand potentiel éducatif… sous les bonnes circonstances.

Je soumets que la bonne manière d’éduquer les chrétiens ce sujet doit passer par une redéfinition de ses bases. Premièrement, les bases sincères de la politique ne sont pas les enjeux de pouvoir, mais le désir honnête d’améliorer notre monde. Pour cela, il est aussi nécessaire de définir nos valeurs et nos philosophies et de s’y éduquer. Voici quelques exemples possibles :

Les rôles légitimes et l’importance :

— des gouvernements ou de la gouvernance

— du travail

— de la communauté (Exemple : le besoin de l’autre)

— de la cellule familiale et ses divers impacts sociaux et démographiques

— De la science et de la technologie

— de l’impact des communications et des médias sur notre perception et dans notre société

— de la vérité et de l’honnêteté

— de la responsabilisation et l’importance de participer (ce qui signifie : faire sa part)

— des bases des droits et libertés de la personne, le tout accompagné par des exemples de progrès de l’histoire dans ce domaine.

— des bases de la création de la richesse pour une société, pour un entrepreneur, peut-être même aussi pour un individu. Le développement et la maximisation du potentiel de chacun de ces domaines. (Par exemple; dans la même veine, on peut même apprendre à l’adolescent à maximiser l’utilisation de son temps.)

— de comment l’altruisme et la générosité constituent une richesse pour la société. (Idéalement, j’inclurais un exercice d’échange d’idées sur les manières qu’une église peut constituer une valeur ajoutée pour la région que Dieu lui a confiée.)

— de l’éducation (accompagné possiblement d’un échange d’idées sur les problèmes que notre système éducatif actuel rencontre. Les parents ont généralement beaucoup à contribuer à ce sujet.)

Il s’agit ici de simples exemples et non pas d’une liste exhaustive, mais le point à retenir est le suivant : pour développer une saine vision [vision de monde] de la politique le chrétien doit regarder au-delà des jeux de pouvoir et des questions de parti-pris et réaliser qu’il s’agit avant tout de questions de philosophies et de valeurs. La responsabilité du croyant consiste alors à définir ce qui constitue ses propres valeurs et par la suite il sera en mesure de déterminer ce qui lui ressemble le plus lorsque vient le temps d’intervenir ou de prendre des décisions. Je demeure abasourdi lorsque je vois des chrétiens qui, encore de nos jours, demandent à leur pasteur pour qui ils devraient voter en tant que chrétiens. Un bon leader d’église n’a pas à dire aux gens pour qui voter, mais serait plus avisé de leur enseigner des critères ou sujets tels que ceux mentionnés plus haut afin que chacun apprenne à prendre ses propres décisions de façon éduquée. Cela devrait faire partie de la nécessité de développer une bonne vision du monde que chaque église devrait intégrer dans ses objectifs. Après tout, si je me fie à la bible, nous semblons aussi appelés à conseiller les rois.