Smithers Residents Launch Letter-Writing Campaign to Town Council
You are ARPA. ARPA is you.
This tagline from ARPA’s intro video means that ARPA isn’t just made up of the staff members who work full-time for the organization. ARPA, fundamentally, is a grassroots network of people who take political action to bring a Biblical perspective to our civil authorities.
ARPA members and supporters in Smithers last week demonstrated what effective political action looks like.
A few years ago, the town of Smithers agreed to install a rainbow crosswalk to promote the LGBTQ cause. At the time, local ARPA supporters and staff voiced their concern about this advocacy by the town. Unfortunately, the town council ignored our concerns and proceeded to install the crosswalk.
Fast forward 5 years. At their April 14th meeting, the town council raised the issue that maintaining the crosswalk and repainting the rainbow every year was expensive. Maybe it would be best to scrap the rainbow crosswalk in favour of something that required less effort and money to maintain. The council decided to put the discussion on hold for two months, solicit suggestions from the community, and brainstorm new ideas to replace the rainbow crosswalk.
The mention of the rainbow crosswalk caught the attention of members of the local Bulkley Valley ARPA chapter. They saw another chance to voice concern about the promotion of the LGBTQ cause in general, and a great opportunity to provide positive recommendations for change. Chapter members immediately began writing letters to their town council and encouraged their friends to do the same.
By the time of the next town council meeting on June 9th, the council had received 29 letters from members of the community. Every single letter was written by an ARPA supporter. Bravo!
These letters made several arguments against the rainbow crosswalk. Governments should not be in the business of political advocacy. Governments should not encourage immoral behaviour. Governments should promote values that unify the community, not that divide the community.
Every letter was written respectfully and tactfully. Conversations about gay or transgender lifestyles and advocacy too often devolve – on both sides, unfortunately – into accusations of bigotry, unkind words, and even vandalism. Not so here. Each letter respectfully laid out heartfelt concerns, and many letters proposed constructive alternatives that would represent the values of all Smithers residents, not just those who support a gay or transgender lifestyle.
Unfortunately, the town council continued to promote the cause of sexual minorities to the exclusion of other interest groups by deciding to fly a rainbow flag instead of repainting the rainbow crosswalk. Council left the door open to reconsider the issue again next year.
One concerning element of the council’s decision was that it explicitly called the LGBTQ cause a human rights issue. Yet, when a discussion arose about what the council would do if residents requested a pro-life crosswalk or flag, they did not consider abortion to be a human rights issue. Council’s conversation reveals their – and society’s – misunderstanding about human rights.
A Christian understanding of human rights is rooted in God’s law. According to Professor John Witte Jr., God’s law outlines duties and subsequent rights and liberties for every individual. For example, God’s command against murder imposes a duty on every member of society not to murder their neighbour and gives everyone else a related right to life. The pre-born have that right to life as well.
There is no human right to practice a gay or transgender lifestyle because these lifestyles violate God’s law and His standard for humanity. The seventh commandment against adultery, along with other sexual laws in Scripture, provide some sexual duties and liberties. All humans have the liberty to marry one member of the opposite sex, to be free from sexual assault, and as a married person to be free from the sexual advances of another. However, the Bible does not provide the liberty or right to engage in behaviour that God forbids, such as having an intimate relationship with a person of the same sex, with a married person, or with multiple people.
Although we were disappointed with the decision of the Smithers town council, the level of concern, the respectful tone, and the political activity displayed by members of the Bulkley Valley ARPA chapter should inspire us all. These members reminded their elected officials of the Truth of God’s design for all human behaviour.
They are ARPA. And so are you!
Levi Minderhoud is the British Columbia Manager for ARPA Canada