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ECP Centre Ceasing to Operate Independently; Expresses Support for ARPA

On November 29, the ECP Centre sent out the following notice to its readers, informing them that they will be closing their doors:

  • Education and awareness directed through the Association for Reformed Political Action (ARPA) at www.arpacanada.ca

The ECP Centre announces that it will no longer operate as an independent entity as of the end of 2010. We are pleased that many of the initiatives supported by the ECP Centre will carry on, and are being carried on quite well in other forums, often with the participation of people who have been working with the ECP Centre for some time. The work done here will continue and we invite you to continue the revolution. Our opponents have noted the impact of the ECP Centre. It’s time to broaden the movement.

Our History in Brief

The ECP Centre, or the Equipping Christians for the Public Square Centre, was formed earlier this decade, originally as a Christian advocacy organization formed to educate, motivate and mobilize Christian participation and leadership in the public square. We expressed the belief that social conservative Christians need a national voice defending their right to exist, participate in and express themselves in the public square. We believed that it was time to stop apologizing, and time to start defending who we are and the things we stand for.

The initial focus of the organization was public advocacy for the Christian view to be expressed in the public square. In 2005, the ECP Centre was formally incorporated as a non profit corporation to carry on an expanded mandate, focusing on three general areas. In brief:

  • Political, and social, commentary to be delivered in public participation in the media, including an increased emphasis on our No Apologies website, to provide a clear Christian perspective on public issues of concern to the Christian. We wanted to motivate Christians with new and informative media, and to inform people about important international and national news items from a Christian perspective. One consistent theme of our messaging was the need to promote freedom of speech and freedom of religion in our country.

  • Legal Defence and Advocacy, focusing on defending the Christian right to speak publicly about their faith, and to express their faith publicly also in their actions. We wanted to raise financial and public support for legal actions that promoted freedom of speech and religion, and that defended Christians, and others, from what amounted to effective persecution at the hands of the state, human rights tribunals, or other legal claimants. It also included the involvement in the law-making process to ensure Christian views were expressed in the law making process, not just in the sense of protesting after the fact.

  • Education and Training, in the sense of helping to equip Christians to be and act as such in the public square. We promoted presentations, conferences, speeches and of course writing on the No Apologies website.

In our view, several years ago, Christians were getting slaughtered in Canada’s public square, to put it bluntly. As examples:

  • There were few organizations, or even people, dedicated to fighting against the growing verbal, policy and legislative attacks on our freedom of speech and religion, in the public square. While obviously many in the church community continued to support and promote Christian views, it seemed there were very few victories, and many losses, in the public square, in the courts, in the legislature, and in the quasi-court bodies such as human rights commissions. We were, frankly, taking it on the chin, in the public square, everywhere.

  • Perhaps the greatest example of that was evidenced in the Marriage debate, and the passage into law of the same sex marriage legislation. While there were large rallies in Ottawa, Toronto and elsewhere; while there was lots of press; and so on, there was a clear consensus that we lost that one by not being vigilant, or organized at the early stages.

  • At the same time, we saw what many would agree were outrageous attacks on personal conscience and religious freedom, caused by human rights commission decisions. We were galvanized through the case of Scott Brockie, the Christian printer who was victimized and penalized by the Ontario Human Rights Commission for refusing to print pro-gay literature in his business that he could not in good conscience support. We heard about the case of Chris Kempling, the Christian BC school counsellor, who was suspended from his job and disciplined by the College of Teachers for writing letters to the editor criticising the homosexual lobby.

There were many more cases, both then and to follow, including the case of Rev. Stephen Boissoin, the Alberta pastor who was being taken to task before the Alberta Human Rights Commission for writing letters to a local paper expressing his Christian views and criticising the seeming support for homosexuality in public schools.

Further, other than churches and a few organizations, there seemed to be a gap in education and training for Christians to get involved in the public square. By organizing conferences in Ontario and British Columbia, we facilitated discussion of relevant topics by qualified speakers and practical workshops for participants.

In the past five years, while the challenges of being a Christian in the public square clearly remain, much has been accomplished, in our view. Certainly not just by the ECP Centre, of course, but we have borne witness to and participated in a growing, and increasingly successful or influential, movement to promote freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and a Christian renaissance in the public square.

A movement is often messy, but we see great signs of progress, both in general, and specific to what we have tried to do at the ECP Centre.

Specifically for the ECP Centre, we have been busy. On the public advocacy/educational front:

  • The commentary delivered, mainly through the No Apologies website, has been successful. In the past year, our hits have been higher than ever before, topping out at over 22.000 unique visits per month, and still today averaging more than 10,000 unique visits per month. At the height of the gay marriage debate, we were featured prominently on national television.

  • We have hosted a number of conferences in Ontario and British Columbia over the past five years, with topics ranging from human rights commission abuses, the growing dangers of radical Islam, polygamy, marriage, the homosexual agenda, and so on, that have attracted a variety of excellent speakers.

On the legal, advocacy front, we also have been busy:

  • We have been actively involved in support for key cases.

  • We have held fundraisers for Scott Brockie as well as Chris Kempling. In the Brockie case the appeals court restricted the human rights tribunal’s decision. For Kempling, we funded his Supreme Court challenge. Ultimately, Kempling was not successful, but his cause has served as a rallying cry for Christian advocates that it is important to get involved early, and to be prepared to fight a long battle for freedom of speech.

  • We raised funds and supported Hamilton Right to Life who were denied the right, initially, to put posters on bus shelters which promoted life and clearly were a call against abortion. The City of Hamilton backed down.

  • We assisted the leader of the Christian Heritage Party, Ron Gray who was the subject of a complaint before the federal human rights tribunal. The investigator assigned to the case closed the file.

  • Most specifically, we got involved, at the earliest stage, to support Rev. Boissoin in his fight for freedom against the Alberta Human Rights Commission, which was capped late in 2009 with a resounding court victory. While that decision is now being appealed, we will continue to support the cause for freedom in that case. We believe it will be the leading case in Canada for freedom of speech and freedom of religion and will likely make it to the Supreme Court of Canada.

  • Perhaps most importantly, and this is related to our work in many of our cases, we have been very critical of the kangaroo court and anti Christian nature of human rights commissions in Canada, and have been for years. In the early years, we were part of only a small group saying these commissions were dangerous threats to political and religious free speech, basically making any statements that were not politically correct subject to sanction by the state. In the process, we networked with people such as Ezra Levant, whose views have been influential in the media. Our views now seem to be very popular.

So, there is much to be thankful for. We have had a pretty good run of it, so far. But, in our view, it is time to move on. And for a very joyous reason, frankly. The basic causes we support are today being supported by many more good organizations and people than just a few years ago. We believe we can individually and collectively join a broader movement.

 

The Broader Movement

On the educational front and political advocacy front, we support the work of the Association for Reformed Political Action. It has been rejuvenated and is well led by Mark Penninga. Their website is www.arpacanada.ca. We commend their efforts. Many of our supporters support ARPA and like organizations. We do not have to duplicate their work and encourage all our supporters to become involved.

On the political commentary front, we believe that the popular No Apologies.ca should continue, and have ensured that it will do so, with Tim Bloedow, who has edited the site for years, continuing on as contributor and editor. Tim has been involved with the ECP Centre since its start up phase, and presently runs ChristianGovernance with its website presence (www.christiangovernance.ca) as well as its vision for practical apologetics and political action. In terms of his political activity, without ignoring federal politics, he nevertheless hopes to be more involved at the provincial level, filling a vacuum that still exists in provinces such as Ontario.

On the legal advocacy and defence front, we believe that the legal environment in Canada has been awakened to the dangers of anti Christian, secular humanist forces generally, and the threats of state sponsored attacks on freedom of speech, freedom of religion and Christian principles such as pro life issues. Our legal advisory committee has had extensive contact with leading Christian advocates in Canada, such as Gerry Chipeur (counsel to Rev. Boissoin) and others; with other leading legal organizations such as Christian Legal Fellowship and the Alliance Defence Fund; and with a variety of other organizations and individuals. Our view is that it makes good sense to pool our resources, particularly with the Christian Legal Fellowship, to support Christian legal causes. The resources of the CLF can support 5 or 6 cases at a time-why not broaden the base for Christian legal advocacy. The issues are often broader and are supported by more than the support group for the ECP Centre. We are seeing many Christian legal advocates joining with the CLF and it has great potential if we pool resources. Presently, the CLF is intervening in landmark cases, including the polygamy challenge in BC and the prostitution law challenge in Ontario. The legal advisory committee of the ECP anticipates holding fundraisers for specific legal cases in future.

When we started, we felt we were a voice in the wilderness sometimes. Now we hear our causes supported by so many more. All the members of the ECP Centre advisory board are still very involved in Christian advocacy or education. Being involved in the ECP Centre has empowered them and opened avenues to be involved successfully. ECP members are involved with ARPA. ECP members are involved with the CLF or politically. The work continues.

We are part of a revolution.

Don’t take our word for it. Let’s hear a little about what others say about the ECP Centre and our little movement. Marci Macdonald, described on her book cover as one of the Canada’s most respected journalists, has written a book entitled the Armageddon Factor-The Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada. We will not comment on the contents of the book per se, other than to say it is fairly alarmist about Christian involvement in the public square, and that there are not a few technical errors. But, overall, the striking thing, and one that should encourage Christians everywhere, is that there is a clearly defined growing Christian movement in the public square in Canada. You could NOT say that just a few short years ago.

In the Armageddon Factor, the ECP Centre is mentioned many times-there are passages and pages talking about us. There are passages on Tristan Emmanuel and on Tim Bloedow. There are references to several ECP supporters. There are passages on people that we have had at our conferences. There are passages on our conferences. There are passages on the legal counsel we have worked with on legal defence and legal advocacy. Among other things, our No Apologies website and our advocacy of Punching a Hole in Political Correctness is described. The support of dutch based Calvinists is described. Here is one short passage:

“…the ECP Centre has become one of the most strident voices calling for the demise of human rights commissions, casting them as instruments of Christian persecution…”

Well, looks like our cause is being noted. We think it is something where Christians can and should take heart. Hallelujah!

 

Next Steps

Our organization will no longer accept funds directly and will be wound down effective December 31, 2010. The ECP Centre has never run with a large surplus, and we anticipate that there will continue to be a small deficit. We have arranged for the deficit to be covered so that anyone who is owed funds will be fully paid.

As noted above, the No Apologies website will continue. It will be edited by Tim Bloedow. Any information on how to support it will be available there.

The legal and advocacy work will continue. ECP supporters will get updates through the No Apologies website and eventually directly. There will be fundraisers and informational meetings.

THANK YOU!

Finally, we want to thank our supporters over the years. People, who came to our meetings, who read our literature and who donated funds. Many thanks to you all. You have supported a very good chapter in the history of Equipping Christians for the Public Square. Please continue the good fight!

The ECP Centre Executive

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