Thursday, July 02, 2015
Same-sex “Marriage” and the Persecution of Christians in Canada
Canada legalized same-sex “marriage” in 2005, the fourth country in the world to do so. During the rushed public debate that preceded legalization, the Christian and traditional understanding of marriage as the union of a man and a woman had strong support. Polls showed a deep split among Canadians, and the majority (52 percent) were actually against legalization at the time that it occurred.
Opponents of same-sex “marriage” were given all kinds of assurances. The preamble to the Civil Marriage Act states that “everyone has the freedom of conscience and religion,” “nothing in this Act affects the guarantee of freedom of conscience and religion and, in particular, the freedom of members of religious groups to hold and declare their religious beliefs,” and “it is not against the public interest to hold and publicly express diverse views on marriage.”
But how quickly things change. Since the watershed moment of legalization, Canadian social norms have shifted rapidly, and what was once considered fringe or debateable has become the new normal.
Today, different opinions on “gender identity” and same-sex “marriage” are no longer tolerated. Our society is sweeping away respect for religious faiths that do not accept and celebrate same-sex “marriage,” and the Civil Marriage Act’s assurances seem merely farcical. It is not premature to speak of open discrimination against Christians in Canada.
Christian Lawyers Need Not Apply
The Canadian Charter of Right and Freedoms declares that Canadians have a fundamental “freedom of conscience and religion” and “freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression.” But constitutional guarantees are at the mercy of lawyers, and Canadian lawyers have emerged as among the most fiercely intolerant of anyone, including their own colleagues, who fails to support same-sex “marriage.”
This extreme intolerance became evident last year when Trinity Western University, the largest privately-funded Evangelical Christian university in Canada, set out to establish a law school. TWU’s plans were approved by British Columbia’s Ministry of Education, which seemed like the final green light. But in a truly unprecedented move, the law societies of three provinces, including Ontario, voted to deny accreditation to the law school.
The law societies gave only one reason, and it had nothing to do with sufficiency of the legal training of TWU graduates. The sole sticking point was the fact that TWU has a campus covenant which, among other things, asks students to abstain from same-sex (and heterosexual) sexual relationships outside of marriage, and states that marriage is reserved for man and woman.
The benchers who sit on provincial law societies are some of the most powerful lawyers in the country. In debating the TWU covenant, many of these elite lawyers made comparisons between the opposition to same-sex “marriage” and racism. For instance, one Ontario bencher said: “we can draw a useful analogy between public attitudes towards interracial dating and interracial marriage in 1985 and discrimination based on sexual orientation in 2014.” In British Columbia, one bencher put it this way: “there is no way to avoid asking … what this Law Society would do if the community covenant related to interracial marriage, even if that precept was based on religion as it was in the case of the Bob Jones University.“
The implication could not be more clear: Christians who believe in traditional marriage are the modern-day equivalent of racists, and warrant identical exclusion. Christian lawyers across Canada are now repeating the words of prominent Ontario lawyer Albertos Polizogopoulos: “I did not attend TWU, but I share its biblical view of marriage…. Do my religious beliefs, particularly about marriage, somehow disqualify me from ably practicing law? That is the inevitable conclusion and consequence if we endorse barring TWU law graduates from practicing law.”
Not only are Christian lawyers being pushed out by their colleagues, but they are also experiencing ostracism from their clients. As the debate over TWU heated in the media, some of Canada’s most powerful corporations created Legal Leaders for Diversity (LLD), a group that now includes over 70 of Canada’s largest corporations. Through LLD, these companies aim to alter the legal landscape by choosing to do business only with pro-gay law firms. Never before has there been a concerted effort to essentially starve Christian law firms out of business.
Catholics Seen as Opposed to Human Rights
The view that Christians are no longer fit for certain jobs is spreading out beyond the legal profession. In March, Toronto’s city council voted to remove the nomination of a Catholic school trustee to the city’s Board of Health. The trustee had not shown any wrongdoing or incompetence, and city councillors didn’t even try to argue this. Their stated concern was that the trustee had a history of voting in line with Catholic teaching.
In particular, some councillors were concerned that the trustee had consistently opposed gay-straight alliances in schools (a 2012 Ontario law states that these activist gay groups must be permitted inside all publicly-funded schools, including Catholic ones).
As in the case of TWU, councillors used an analogy to racism. The chair of the Board of Health asked: “Would we allow that as a society if it was black-white alliances? That’s what human rights are about….” Another councillor said: “These are actually human rights issues, the right for gays and lesbians to lead an equal life in the city of Toronto.”
The writing is on the wall. A mere decade after same-sex “marriage” was legalized in Canada, citizens who do not support same-sex “marriage” are outside the bounds of social acceptability. It is now considered in the public interest to deny them career opportunities and advancement.
Children as the Next Frontier of Gender Diversity
This coming September, all publicly funded schools in the province of Ontario, whether Catholic or secular, must begin to teach an aggressive new sexual education curriculum which is categorically opposed to Catholic teaching on sexuality and the human person.
Starting in grade three, the curriculum introduces children to the idea that gender is fluid, and that little boys can decide to be girls, or vice versa. The message is that transgender desires are just as perfectly normal as homosexual leanings.
This message is already being propagated by our media. For instance, Canadian public radio recently covered the case of a 12-year-old boy who chose to “come out” as a girl one year earlier. This “heartwarming” story includes details such as the fact that the boy’s puberty has now been chemically stopped, and he may be put through female puberty instead.
Young Canadian children have been “coming out” as transgender, and are being encouraged by officials in schools and government, and by the media. Currently, a Catholic school in Alberta is being pressured to allow a 7-year-old transgender “girl” to use the girls’ bathroom. Last year, the province of Alberta issued a new birth certificate to a 12-year-old “boy” who was born a girl.
Campaign Life Coalition, Canada’s largest pro-life organization, accurately expresses the dilemma that Ontario’s Catholic schools are facing:
It is unclear how Catholic schools can implement teaching on birth control, abortion, the idea that being male or female is a social construct, gender expression, and the 6-gender theory, even if retrofitted with a “Catholic lens.” Catholic moral teaching forbids abortion and the use of artificial contraception as grave evils. The theory of gender identity, gender expression and the idea that there are more genders than just male and female directly contradict Christian anthropology of the human person.
The Dawn of a New Dictatorship?
Canada continues to pioneer through a vast social experiment. The legalization of same-sex “marriage” represented the victory in our laws and public morals of a view of the human person and human sexuality that is seriously incompatible with the Gospel. This is turning out to be a zero-sum situation, and Christians are starting to be seen as public enemies.
Last May at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., Princeton professor Robert George spoke precisely of these changes in our Western culture, and of the coming persecution of Catholics and other like-minded Christians. Here in Canada, his predictions are already coming to pass:
The days of socially acceptable Christianity are over. The days of comfortable Catholicism are past…. Powerful forces and currents in our society press us to be ashamed of the Gospel … ashamed of our faith’s teachings on marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife. These forces insist that the Church’s teachings are out of date, retrograde, insensitive, uncompassionate, illiberal, bigoted, even hateful … these same forces say you are a homophobe, a bigot, someone who doesn’t believe in equality. You even represent a threat to people’s safety. You ought to be ashamed!
…One may in consequence of one’s public witness be discriminated against and denied educational opportunities and the prestigious credentials they may offer; one may lose valuable opportunities for employment and professional advancement; one may be excluded from worldly recognition and honors of various sorts; one’s witness may even cost one treasured friendships…. Yes, there are costs of discipleship—heavy costs.
Trinity Western University is now fighting expensive court battles in three provinces, and will likely wind up at the Supreme Court. The Toronto Catholic school trustee is considering an appeal to a human rights tribunal. Thousands of parents have protested against the new sexual education curriculum in Ontario, pulling 15,000 kids out of school to demonstrate their outrage.
But Ontario’s premier, who is herself a lesbian in a same-sex “marriage,” has announced her resolve to introduce the curriculum despite the protests. The tsunami of gender identity politics is only gathering speed, bringing ever more pressure upon those who dare stand in its way.
Amazon.com: No Confederate Flags But Hamas and Hezbollah Flags Available
Amazon.com joined other American companies like eBay and Wal-Mart last week in banning the sale of the Confederate flag, but the online retail giant has apparently not banned items associated with foreign terrorist groups.
Flags of Hamas and Hezbollah, and armed “Taliban” action figures are among the offerings available with a few clicks of a mouse.
Amazon’s decision to remove merchandise featuring the Confederate flag, reported by Reuters and others last week, came in the wake of the shooting of nine people in a church in Charleston, S.C. by a white gunman who photographed himself draped in the flag.
A search of the Amazon.com website reveals that it has for sale an 18-piece set of figurines described as “Afghan Taliban.” The figures, available for $18.18 a set, are shown carrying assault weapons, ammunition and rocket propelled grenades.
Items featuring the bright yellow flag of the Lebanese Iranian-backed Shi’ite group Hezbollah, designated by the State Department as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO) since 1997, are also on sale on Amazon.
A pack of photographic prints of the flag are available for $3.99, a fridge magnet for $2.99, a small window cling flag for $2.99, and an “I love Hezbollah” infant bodysuit for $19.99.
The flag of Hezbollah (the “Party of Allah”) features a fist, an AK-47 assault rifle and an image of the Qur’an.
The Anti-Defamation League’s describes the banner as follows: “A fist rises from the letters clutching an AK-47. Below the rifle are a Qur’an, a globe and a seven-leafed branch. The red Arabic script above the rifle reads, ‘the party of God, they are the triumphant ones.’ The red Arabic text below the central image reads, ‘the Islamic Resistance in Lebanon.’”
The flag of Hamas, also a designated FTO, is also on sale at Amazon.com for $8.47.
Its availability on the site riled some browsers, who used the “customer reviews” feature to let Amazon know their views on the matter.
“Hey Amazon. You just removed the Confederate flag from your inventory. I DEMAND you also remove THIS symbol of hatred and bigotry from your inventory,” read one.
“Great job Amazon for showing us your true colors,” said another. “Can’t get a Confederate battle flag but you can get a flag of this terrorist group. A group that has killed many women and children.”
Having Dispensed With God, Leftists Now Aim for Christians
Five leftist lawyers, currently abusing their authority as Supreme Court Justices, unleashed their activism upon the U.S. Constitution Friday and created a non-existent right to same-sex marriage. The Fourteenth Amendment may provide equal protection under the law, but by applying it to expand the definition of marriage the Court has created a constitutional crisis in America. The First and Tenth Amendments, which respectively promise freedom of individual religion and award jurisdiction to the States of all powers not enumerated in the Constitution, have now been placed in direct conflict with the Fourteenth Amendment.
“Love Wins”? Not here it doesn’t, nor does anything but the will of five judicial despots, followed by the bullying mob rule of the Left and its Rainbow Mafia. Need proof?
In 2008, before the Saul Alinsky-ite Barack Obama and his Chicagoland gang occupied the White House and began “fundamentally transforming” our nation, there was debate, dissent and dialogue about all sorts of issues, including those issues fomented by the hard Left in order to label the response of the Christian Right as extremist.
In 2008, homosexual couples could enter into a legal, binding contract for shared property, power of attorney for making health care decisions, probate of wills, etc., and were, in most cases, receiving health care benefits from employers. These same homosexual couples were consummating their relationship in the privacy of their own domicile without harassment.
In 2008, Christians could speak their opinions and stand on their faith while understanding their voice was respected in the public square.
In 2015, however, those same Christians are in grave danger of losing legal standing because their beliefs are pitted against a brand new, heretofore undiscovered constitutional right. Tolerance is only for those who agree with the mob-rule Left.
What changed in seven years?
If you ask a moderate Republican, he or she might say, “Elections have consequences,” and shrug, since they never viewed this as meaningful anyway. If you ask the Bible-believing Democrats who voted for Ronald Reagan, they shudder at the exchange of timeless principles for sexual license. If you ask a libertarian, you might get the response that devout Christians are the “recalcitrant minority.” But if you ask someone who identifies as Christian first, American second, and is conservative politically, you’ll hear sorrow for a nation that worships the secular triune of me, myself and I rather than our Creator.
Millions of votes cast around the country to support the definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman have now been nullified. How will this tyrannical disregard for the enumerated powers of the Constitution play out in the everyday lives of Christians?
In your place of worship, there’s now a government-approved theology that the God-rejecting Left expects to be preached. Whereas Bible-centric congregations stand on Holy Scripture, which does not include one single advocacy of sexual sin or perversion, the homosexual agenda demands that this view be rejected. One of the five black-robed tyrants, Justice Anthony Kennedy — considered the “swing vote” — laughingly attempted to reassure those whose lives revolve around their faith in the Judeo-Christian God by writing, “Those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned.”
Get that? We can advocate our opposition, but there is little legal standing in such a weak word. As Chief Justice John Roberts put it, “The majority graciously suggests that religious believers may continue to ‘advocate’ and ‘teach’ their views of marriage. The First Amendment guarantees, however, the freedom to ‘exercise’ religion. Ominously, that is not a word the majority uses.”
Let’s not forget the Christian bakers, florists, photographers and other business owners who have been financially ruined and litigiously challenged by the Rainbow Mafia. Already, Christians have been forced to either comply with the government-approved theology or face persecution.
What about the tax-exempt status of Christian organizations such as schools, faith-based charities, hospitals and other institutions with religious beliefs?
The Obama administration has already indicated this provision as a likely stick to enforce the mandatory bowing to the altar of government-sanctioned faith. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, arguing conjured-up rights before the Supreme Court back in April, tipped their hand in response to an inquiry by Justice Samuel Alito. “It’s certainly going to be an issue,” Verrilli promised. “I don’t deny that. I don’t deny that, Justice Alito. It is going to be an issue.”
Chad Griffin, president of the Human (read: Homosexual) Rights Campaign, likewise said, “No question, the work is not done. … We still have a long ways to go.”
Cultural icons like Star Trek actor George Takei, who is homosexual, made the same veiled threat after the ruling. Some, he said, are “going to try to use the shroud of religious freedom” to disobey the Court’s decree. “I believe in religious freedom, and people who argue that are entitled to their freedom,” Takei said. “But” — yes, there was bound to be a “but” — “they do not have the freedom to impose their religious values on to others.”
Yet that’s exactly what the Court and the Rainbow Mafia are doing. The mob-rule Left, characteristically using its ends to justify any means, is wielding its political and legal prowess acquired over the last seven years to openly oppress Judeo-Christians.
Yet there are glimmers of hope that will endure.
Cultural and casual Christians, the ones who believe philanthropy and showing up for a holiday service is their only necessary spiritual response, will quickly self-identify and want to change the subject. Eventually, these fair-weather believers will either deepen their faith or more explicitly abandon it to avoid social stigma or name-calling.
But the greatest outcome of this conflict threatening the Liberty of the faithful and devout will be the growth of strength and community. Think of redwoods, trees that soar to heights of over 350 feet and can live thousands of years. These natural giants have roots of only five to 13 feet deep, but spread outward to 100 feet, interlocking with the roots of neighboring trees in the grove. Unseen bonds within these titans of the forest provide stability and support when the storms howl.
As Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, reminds us, “[T]he church often thrives when it is in sharp contrast to the cultures around it.”
And Congress isn’t idle. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) introduced the First Amendment Defense Act, which Lee writes “would prevent any agency from denying a federal tax exemption, grant, contract, accreditation, license, or certification to an individual or institution for acting on their religious belief that marriage is a union between one man and one woman.”
This battle has been won through activism and deception. The war, however, is not over.
The Reference in This Girl Scouts Book Started a Media Firestorm More Than Three Years Ago. But What has happened since?
It was back in 2011 that a concerned mother first approached TheBlaze to expose a paragraph inside of a book printed by the Girl Scouts of the USA that encouraged young girls to visit a well-known liberal website to clear up any “media misinformation” they encountered.
Three years later, she says that the controversial directive to use Media Matters for America — a liberal “information center” aimed at “correcting conservative misinformation” — to fact-check the news is still prominently displayed inside copies of the books being sold in some of the organization’s stores, despite intense media coverage over the issue and the Girl Scouts’ claim that they reprinted the book in 2012.
“I am not all that shocked to learn the Girl Scout organization has broken yet another promise made to its members. Sadly, example after example exists of the Girl Scout organization saying one thing and doing another,” Christy Volanski, a former Girl Scouts leader, told TheBlaze. “Considering that this organization claims to ‘build girls of character,’ it is deeply concerning that Girl Scouts USA and its local councils continue to be deceitful with families and supporters.”
In was back in December 2011 that TheBlaze first covered Volanski’s concerns over a workbook titled, “MEdia” that was published by the Girl Scouts in 2010 — a publication designed for girls in grades six through eight that offers insight into how young people should process and understand media messaging.
Volanski was stunned at the time to find that the book referred young readers to Media Matters for America as one of the primary sources for debunking lies and deceit, as the organization is known for its overtly partisan — and progressive — stances.
Under the headline, “Consider the Source,” text on page 25 of the book encourages girls to go to the George Soros-funded Media Matters web site to clear up any media misinformation they might encounter. It reads:
The Internet is a breeding ground for “urban legends,” which are false stories told as if true. Next time you receive a txt or e-mail about something that seems unbelievable, confirm it before you spread it.
The fact-checking site snopes.com investigates everything from urban legends to “news” articles and posts its findings. Media Matters for America (http://mediamatters.org/) gets the word out about media misinformation.
A representative for the Girl Scouts told TheBlaze back in 2012 that the book was being reprinted, and an online version of the text shows that Media Matters was indeed digitally replaced by Snopes.com, a popular fact-checking website.
“Girl Scouts constantly reviews our materials based on feedback and suggestions we receive from our members, and we update our materials on a regular basis,” the organization said at the time. “As a result of this process, a corrected page was posted online in January, which councils could use to sticker any books they had in the shop. The girl book went into reprint in May  and 5,000 copies — with the correction — were delivered in July.”
But three years later, Volanski said that the organization is still selling the old Media Matters version of “MEdia.” She sent individuals to four different Girl Scouts stores in Georgia, South Carolina, Wisconsin and Arkansas, earlier this month, where she said none of the store workers cautioned buyers that there were edits or changes to the book, with the old Media Matters versions still sitting on shelves in all but one case.
One store in Arkansas was selling the book with a sticker over the Media Matters paragraph that instead directed Girl Scouts to Snopes.com. The last time Volanski checked stores back in 2012, two were selling updated versions without the references and four stores were not.
TheBlaze reached out to the Girl Scouts to seek comment about why the controversial reference remains in the book more than three years later, and the organization sent the following response: “Girl Scouts constantly reviews our materials based on feedback and suggestions we receive from our members, and we update our materials on a regular basis.”
When TheBlaze inquired to ask, more specifically, why a partisan website is given to young kids to help them fact check media messages, the organization skirted the question, responding, “The girl books went into reprint, with corrections, and were promptly delivered.”
The organization ignored a third attempt to ask why, if the new copies were promptly delivered, that the old books referencing Media Matters are still on bookshelves nearly four years later.
In 2012, Wendy Thomas Russell, the book’s author, denied placing the Media Matters reference in the book, saying that she had “no idea” how it happened. She also said that she wouldn’t have included the reference due to the group’s obvious bias. Russell wrote:
So how did Media Matters end up in the book I wrote? The truth is, I have no idea. My final draft read as follows:
"The Internet is a breeding ground for “urban legends,” which are false stories told as if true, and then spread quickly. Next time you receive a txt or a forwarded e-mail about something terrible that happened to someone, try to confirm it. The fact-checking site snopes.com investigates everything from urban legends to “news” articles and posts its findings."
That’s it. Just Snopes.
No offense to Media Matters, but I didn’t even know the group existed until last week. And no offense to the Girl Scouts, but, even if I had known about the group, I never would have included it in the book. Media Matters’ slant isn’t only evident in the content, it’s spelled out in the freaking masthead.
It is still unclear both how the reference made its way into the book — and why it is still on shelves more than three years after the initial controversy.
As TheBlaze previously reported, Volanski is no stranger to critiquing the Girl Scouts, as her daughter Sydney, who served as a Girl Scout for eight years and left the organization in 2010 after she found that it embraces what she believes are controversial stances, co-edits the Speak Now: Girl Scouts Website; it provides examples of what the family sees as liberal bias.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.