Edmonton Church must obtain official consent to teach Bible?
The US couple was concerned about their freedoms here in Canada because they’re offering a teaching on Biblical sexuality that is based in the Song of Solomon and does address homosexuality as sin. They were thinking about cancelling due to risk of prosecution. I encouraged them to keep it in the church and they should be ok.
The couple decided to contact the Alberta Human Rights Commission and below you can read the phone log of the conversation with Ralph Roman an officer of the AHRC.
An interesting point here is that this couple is advised to inform the church that they should hire a lawyer to draft up consent forms and make sure that the attendees consent to the teaching…PLUS, she was cautioned that the attendees should NOT talk about the information presented in public and that even with a consent form there is still no guarantee that a complaint could not be filed IF someone was offended….like a teacher for instance.
Christian parents are not allowed to “opt” their kids out of pro-homosexual propaganda in our public school but the HRC advises that we need to obtain consent to teach our religious beliefs in our own religous institutions.
Following is the log of the phone conversation with the AHRC.
Canada does not have freedom of speech, and I have already spoken, putting me in a special class and at risk.
Phone call log June 26, 2008 to Confidential Inquiry Line at Edmonton, AL 780.427.7661 at 3:40 p.m. (30 minute conversation). Spoke to Ralph Roman, Human Rights officer who said he could explain the laws.
I started by saying, “I’m an American citizen, an author and public speaker, with an upcoming seminar on sex education for young people from the Bible in a church in Alberta.”
He said, “Could I ask your name in case I’ve read some of your books?”
I laughed and said, “If I give you my name, will you be waiting for me at the border?” He laughed and said okay.
I stated: “While I’m not a gay basher, in publications, both books and CDs, I have stated my conscientious and Biblical objection to homosexual behavior. It’s a minor part of my material, but it’s there.”
Ralph said that everyone is entitled to their own opinions and there is always going to be disputes, for example creationists vs. Darwinists. The problem was speech that could be considered hate or that might cause someone to be looked down upon.
He then numbered the following points of what he recommended:
1. You have the invitation, congratulations.
He said the problem is any kind of public teaching vs. private teaching such as a newspaper, public statements, employer, or by a teen in a classroom and a teacher being offended. He said that is when the law is being broken.
He said the following recommendations were the responsibility of the people who invited me, not my responsibility.
2. Ask the church to get a signed consent form from everyone, parents and children, everyone, stating that they are not forced to attend and are there of their own free will. Later he added that this consent should be drawn up by a lawyer who is familiar with the Human Rights Laws.
3. The weekend retreat is considered one-occasion situation and that a license was probably not required.
4. The church needs to contact the education people and take a curriculum of the program and demonstrate that it is an educational program that is not unwelcome by the group there and everyone is there by consent. Also, the church needs to ask the education people if a license is required. At this point Ralph was uncertain and seemed to think a license would be helpful if problems occurred.
5. The church needs to contact the police to make sure they do not view the program as bordering on criminal activity—need to show them the curriculum so they know what is going on and do not arrive on the scene.
I told Ralph I would be dealing with the “hookup mentality” of this generation and teaching abstinence. He said that is a religious belief that lots of people have, but it cannot be forced on anyone and not taught to anyone who is not a part of the group.
I then told Ralph that the church had already distributed a CD of mine to each of their families to prepare for the retreat that had some statements on it about homosexuals. He said that they needed a consent form from each family that this was not unwelcome material and that their kids would not be talking about any of it in the schools.
He said, “You may have a problem with the CD if it is seen as gay bashing and if anyone who has it displays it before the public, i.e., talking about it in a classroom. It needs to be used by a select group who consented to receiving the material. Religious material must not be forced on anyone who is not a part of the group who consented. If a student did this, and the person complained, you would be liable and it would not matter that all the safeguards were in place.”
He said, “Here’s the bad news: Even if you do the right thing and someone comes to us. We can’t stop people from making complaints. Teachers can make a complaint if a student makes comments on his/her own. This kind of material is only for you and not for public consumption and students must be advised to keep it private.”
Ralph ended with, “You need to get a lawyer to draft the consent form and to also have the person declare that they will keep it private and not make the information public.”
My last question was, “I have a male partner who will be teaching the boys, is he liable because of my CD?” He said. “As your associate, he could be.”
Ralph closed the conversation by wishing me well in my teaching. I noticed that he was very careful not to disagree with me about any of my views, but simply stated “many people believe that” or “that is a religious opinion.”
I personally would not trust my safety to any lawyer who was not fully informed and involved with Human Rights issues to draw up the consent and will not distribute form.
I did not ask the question about the church’s liability, but understand from reading about recent cases that they would also be held liable for distributing the CD without a properly worded consent form.