Justice and Freedom

29 May 2020 Over 400 Ontario Churches Call on Premier to Allow a Gradual Reopening

  By Colin Postma Several weeks ago, I wrote about the Church of God in Aylmer, Ontario - a small, rural congregation that held church services in their parking lot in response to social distancing laws. I did not expect the level of response that post received. Clearly, this situation highlighted concerns about religious freedom for many in this province, and around the country! This situation highlighted concerns about religious freedom The Ontario Government, using their emergency powers during the COVID-19 crisis, prohibits gatherings of more than five people. The congregation in Aylmer...

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20 May 2020 Professing progressivism for emergency loans?

  by John Sikkema  What is our government doing by requiring small businesses to confirm that they do not “promote hate” or “discriminate” before they can get a loan? Imagine your business partner suffers a serious injury at the construction site. You call 911. The operator asks if you and your business partner respect collective bargaining rights. Or imagine you need cancer treatment, and hospital staff ask if you support the equal right of everyone to publicly funded medical care. Would that ever be appropriate? Does your respect or disrespect for collective bargaining or...

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20 May 2020 Criminal charges withdrawn against street preacher David Lynn

The Crown withdrew its criminal charges against David Lynn today, almost a year after he was arrested while street preaching in Toronto’s “gay village” at the opening of “Pride Month”. This case was politically charged from the outset. Lynn had been charged with two criminal offences: mischief and causing a disturbance. The entire incident was video recorded, however, and it quickly came to light that these charges were dubious at best. ARPA Canada’s Law and Policy Director reviewed that video last summer and wrote about the case on ARPA’s blog. At...

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07 May 2020 A Good News Story for Victims of Sexual Exploitation

Good news in Alberta! Bill 8: Protecting Survivors of Human Trafficking Act has recently been tabled. The goal of the bill is to protect survivors of human trafficking and sexual exploitation. In short, the bill helps victims of human trafficking. There are some highlights worth noting: A judge has the ability to grant a protection order to the victim, which means the trafficker cannot get close to, speak to or engage with the victim. The bill adds a tort. A tort refers to a civil clause that allows the victim...

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01 May 2020 What do greenhouses teach about COVID-19?

by Mike Schouten Before the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, I had only ever heard the concept of “quarantine” in two instances – the Bible and the greenhouse. The Bible doesn’t actually use the word, but rather uses the term “isolate” (NIV) or “shut him up” (ESV). In Leviticus 13 we read detailed instructions for the priests to inspect those who had skin diseases and isolate outside the camp anyone with a suspected case of such a disease. If the disease was confirmed, the isolation was to last much longer. Quarantine is also...

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29 Apr 2020 Holding Church in your Car? Not in Ontario!

By Colin Postma This past Sunday, April 26th a small congregation met in the lazy little town of Aylmer, Ontario for worship. That sentence wouldn’t normally invite much commentary – in fact you might think it was the beginning of a novel. It might surprise you to know, however, that this was big news. COVID-19 has changed the landscape of worship in our country for the last 7 or so weeks – and rightly so. Glancing over the headlines of major newspapers, you might think this congregation packed the building, shook hands,...

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24 Apr 2020 British Columbia shows restraint in COVID-19 response

by Levi Minderhoud ARPA as an organization talks about sphere sovereignty a lot. Sphere sovereignty, famously articulated by Abraham Kuyper, implies that there are many spheres of authority in society, such as the state, the church, and the family. Each of these spheres has different God-given responsibilities, jurisdictions, and means of accomplishing their tasks. Reformed Christians often criticize the state for encroaching on the sovereignty of other spheres in society. We also frequently mention the rule of law. The rule of law implies the government’s powers are limited to those granted to...

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08 Apr 2020 Is Corporate Worship “Essential”? Some Biblical Considerations for the Church’s Response.

  Essential services are a hot topic right now, as everyone wonders whether their place of employment or job description qualifies as “essential” under COVID-19 restrictions. Essential services include the obvious: nurses and doctors, fire fighters, grocery stores, child protective services, police officers. But they extend far beyond that, even including liquor and recreational cannabis stores. The result is that some businesses with hundreds of employees continue to operate with minimal oversight, while others have closed despite there being measures they could easily take to mitigate risk. Churches are not on the...

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02 Mar 2020 Ontario court lets off two pimps, declares prostitution law unconstitutional

In 2014, Parliament passed the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (Bill C-36) to implement the “Nordic Model” of prostitution law in Canada. This model, and our current law,  prohibits the purchase of sex, while granting immunity to those who are prostituted. It also prohibits third parties, particularly pimps, from promoting and profiting from prostitution. The Nordic Model recognizes the prevalence of coercion in prostitution and is designed to ensure that abuse and violence can be reported by prostituted women (and men) without fear of legal repercussions. A provincial...

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14 Feb 2020 A breach in Wall:  New court ruling casts shadow on church independence

In 2018, we told you about a Supreme Court case called Wall v Highwood Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses. In that case, Mr. Wall took a Jehovah’s Witnesses Congregation to court for “disfellowshipping” him. Mr. Wall succeeded in the lower courts, but lost his case at the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC). The SCC decided unanimously that civil judges have no business reviewing a religious body’s decision to expel a member where no legal right is at stake. That case raised the fundamental issue of churches’ freedom to govern themselves, particularly in...

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