Update: Chris Kempling’s Defence

04 Feb 2009 Update: Chris Kempling’s Defence

Chris KemplingIn light of his leaving the public education system, the BC College of Teachers has dropped their most recent complaints against school teacher Chris Kempling. His case has been a difficult story of how living one’s faith can lead to persecution, even in Canada.

Kempling has been through years of hardship at the hands of the BCCT and finally had enough of the public school system. Now, in an effort to get the facts out to the public and expose the suppression of basic freedoms, Kempling has prepared this document and has given permission to ARPA Canada to post it on our website: 

Response to BC College of Teachers Citation (January 28, 2008)

By Chris Kempling

On January 29, 2009, the BC College of Teachers solicitor Jean Whittow wrote a letter to my lawyers William Clark and Scott Marcinkow, which stated the following:

The Preliminary Investigation Sub-Committee of the College considered this matter at its recent meeting.  In light of the fact the Mr. Kempling has relinquished his certificate and is no longer a member, the College does not intend to set the citation for hearing.  The Sub-Committee further determined that, in the event Mr. Kempling ever applies for reinstatement, the citation would be referred to the Fitness Investigation Sub-Committee.  We will close our file.

On December 31, 2008, I chose to resign my membership with the BC College of Teachers.  The main reason was that I had become certified through the Independent Schools Branch and was working in a private school.  My other reason, of course, was that  I no longer wished to remain a member of an organization who would treat the Charter rights of its members in such a cavalier fashion.  I do not intend to ever apply for reinstatement.

Below is the complete text of my citation and the arguments I would have made in rebuttal, had the hearing gone ahead.  I will leave the editorializing to others.

Complete Text of the Citation

3. Mr Kempling made derogatory statements against homosexuals or otherwise promoted discrimination against homosexuals as illustrated by one or more of the following:

a) Mr Kempling participated in a radio interview aired by the CBC on February 11, 2003:

(i) in that interview, Mr.  Kempling described homosexuality as “immoral” and a “barrier to salvation”;

(ii) that CBC program quoted writings previously made by Mr.  Kempling against homosexuality; and,

(iii) Mr.  Kempling provided to the interviewer written material that the College Decision determined to be discriminatory and derogatory towards homosexuals.

b) In November, 2003, Mr.  Kempling published his essay entitled “the Great Divide:  Ethical Divisions between Social Liberals and Social Conservatives Regarding Sexual Behaviour” on two websites, a BCTF Listserv and the BC Parents and Teachers for Life website.

c) Mr Kempling also provided his essay “The Great Divide…” to the Calgary Herald in which it was published on December 27, 2003.

d) In or about December, 2003, Mr.  Kempling provided his article entitled “Sexual Orientation Curricula: Implications for Educators” for publication in the Bulletin of the German Institute for Youth and Society.

e) On January 5, 2004, the CBC Radio aired an interview with Mr.  Kempling, conducted December 29, 2003, concerned an advertisement that he had previously published offering sexual “orientation change therapy.”

f) To the knowledge of Mr.  Kempling, the Christian Heritage Party posted on its website an article dated February 2004, entitled “Chris Kempling:  Our Canary in the Coal Mine”, describing homosexuality as immoral and abnormal, and calling for support for Mr.  Kempling.

g) Mr.  Kempling wrote a letter to the Quesnel newspaper published on January 12, 2005.  In this letter, Mr.  Kempling:

(i) associated homosexuality with immorality;

(ii) stated that he was the local representative of the Christian Heritage Party.

h) Mr. Kempling wrote a letter to the Quesnel newspaper published February 2, 2005 linking homosexuality with pedophilia.

i)  Mr.  Kempling made a statement to a Quesnel newspaper reporter, published April 14, 2005 by the Prince George Free Press in support of his earlier statements against homosexuality.

Response to the Citation

Mr.  Kempling made derogatory statements against homosexuals or otherwise promoted discrimination against homosexuals as illustrated by one or more of the following:

a) Mr.  Kempling participated in a radio interview aired by the CBC on February 11, 2003:

This was a television interview broadcast on the CBC’s National, not a radio interview.  Participating in interviews with the CBC is not an offense in Canada.

i) in that interview, Mr.  Kempling described homosexuality as “immoral” and a “barrier to salvation”;

The exact transcript quote is, “The scriptures clearly say that it [homosexuality] is immoral behaviour and a barrier to salvation.”  The scriptures I was thinking of are: Leviticus 18: 22  “Do no lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable”;  Romans 1: 26-27  “…because of this God gave them over to shameful lusts.  Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones.  In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another.  Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion”; and 1 Corinthians 6: 9 “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived:  Neither the sexually immoral nor idolators nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”

The context of this statement is provided by my follow-up comment in the transcript:  “I don’t feel that I have the luxury to pick and choose passages of the Bible that I believe.  It is incumbent on Christians to believe all of it and I do.”  My statement reflects not my “opinion”, but the revealed Word of God—I was making a reference to the Bible passages in which I believe.  These positions are held as true, God-inspired statements by adherents of the Christian religion.  Section 2(a) of the Charter enshrines freedom of conscience and religious belief.  Furthermore, the CBC filmed me making these statements in my church.  My District Principal, Randy Curr explicitly excluded statements in churches from discipline in his letter to me dated March 22, 2004, where he says: “We have stated and reiterate that we do not view your presentations in Churches to be a violation of our directive.” Is it the intention of the BC College of Teachers to prevent Christians from commenting on their beliefs in their own churches?

ii)  that CBC program quoted writings previously made by Mr.  Kempling against homosexuality; and,

Yes, the announcer quoted from my previously published letters to the editor.  This is what reporters do—they provide context and background so that the viewer can understand the story.  I have never denied writing those statements.  I am wondering why I am being cited merely because other persons quote what I said.  I am quite willing to be responsible for my statements, and have already served my College-imposed penalty for those statements. 

iii) Mr.  Kempling provided to the interviewer written material that the College Decision determined to be discriminatory and derogatory towards homosexuals.

The reporter requested copies of my letters to the editor in order to provide context and background to the story.  Since they were part of the public record anyway (i.e. easily available at the newspaper’s archives) I provided them.  Obviously, the story had national significance and they did a balanced piece.  I saw no reason not to cooperate with them.  I fail to see why this is a citable offense as I have never denied writing the letters, and have already served my College imposed penalty for writing them.  Am I to be cited in perpetuity every time a reporter quotes a historical letter available to anyone?  I should also point out that the College’s decision was under appeal at that time, so whether a court agreed or not with their decision was undecided.

b) In November, 2003, Mr.  Kempling published his essay entitled “The Great Divide:  Ethical Divisions between Social Liberals and Social Conservatives Regarding Sexual Behaviour” on two websites, a BCTF Listserv and the BC Parents and Teachers for Life website.

I voluntarily provided District Principal Randy Curr on January 5, 2004 this essay, informing him that the essay had been provided to the two websites and the Calgary Herald.  I stated, “Please let me know if you have any concerns.”  In other words, I was trying to be open and honest with my supervisor.  He later responded that I had “crossed the line”, but did not say how, and did not initiate any disciplinary action.

I published the essay on the BCTF’s Social Justice listserv to encourage debate among my colleagues.  To my recollection, there wasn’t any response or complaint.  The College has not provided evidence whether any concern was raised about it.  I am surprised that the College considers that having a discussion among teaching professionals on a union listserv is a citable offense. 

I am a life member of the BC Parents and Teachers for Life.  No one complained to the College about its presence on the BCPTL website.  Even if they did, in Canada the Charter guarantees “freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of expression”.  The BCTF listserv and the BCPTL website are “other media of expression”, and I stand by my right to use them to express my thoughts, beliefs and opinions.

c) Mr.  Kempling also provided his essay “The Great Divide…” to the Calgary Herald in which it was published on December 27, 2003.

See section 2(b) of the Charter, re freedom of the press, cited above.  I was asked to submit my essay by columnist Nigel Hannaford, who apparently saw it on the web.  He thought it was a good piece and so did the editorial board of the Calgary Herald.  I don’t think it is the job the British Columbia College of Teachers to act as censor for Alberta newspapers.  To my knowledge, there were no published letters to the editor in reaction to this article.  Please see below the column written by Hannaford in response to the College’s citation, published on February 9, 2008, in the Herald.

It’s what others say about you that brings on the trouble

Nigel Hannaford, Calgary Herald

Published: Saturday, February 09, 2008

Here’s a short primer for activists on how to get the last word. Use free-speech rights to make your case. Once you’ve won, shut down the other side. Learn from David Suzuki, who Licia Corbella talks about. He thinks global-warming scientists have won their debate, and now politicians who don’t agree with them should go to jail. He sounds deranged. But university audiences applaud.

Then there’s gay activists. For decades, they used free-speech rights to their case. But now, with their aims largely met, it’s off to a human rights tribunal for people who disagree. It works. You can shut anybody up, if you go at it long enough, and smart enough.

This week’s free-speech martyr is Chris Kempling. I feel a soft spot for him because the Herald is involved.In 2003, when gay marriage was a hot-button issue, the Quesnel, B.C., teacher sent us a thinker about the divisions between the two sides of the issue, what they thought, and where they got their ideas.

But Lifesite.net says that earlier this week, his professional association, the B.C. College of Teachers, cited him for sending it to us. Also, by the way, for speaking with Canada’s national broadcaster, the CBC, and identifying himself in a paper as the local Christian Heritage Party candidate.

He faces suspension, perhaps loss of his teaching licence, for “conduct unbecoming a teacher.” After all this time: That article must have been a screamer, you’d think.Well, no. It was about as near the bone as a country pastor ruminating on the equator.

The gist was that social liberals think anything goes as long as one isn’t hurting anybody else, while social conservatives, concerned about the decay of family life and the understandings that hold society together, have a broader view of what behaviours cause harm. That is, what your neighbour does may not hurt you, but can still affect you.

Anyway, we buried it in a weekend section, two days after Christmas. It sparked one letter — from a Toronto man who sounded like the duty hate-literature responder for the Christmas break. Except, there was nothing remotely hateful in it. This was how Kempling ended up: “Certain fundamental values can be affirmed by all camps: the inherent worth of every individual, non-violence, eradication of harassment and name-calling, and promoting understanding of each other’s profoundly held beliefs.” Sounds more like the charter than a rant.

Well, there was one more thing. He put in a word for organizations that help people deal with their “unwanted same-sex attractions and who are motivated to re-orient towards heterosexuality.” Those were probably the fighting words. Activists rest their case on gays being born that way, so by definition reorientation must be an act of self-denial in response to societal oppression. By endorsing it, Kempling becomes an oppressor and unworthy to teach children, some of whom might believe they’re gay. (Not that any complained about him.)

As his article also relates, that’s the logic of the activists’ next project, adding gay curriculum in schools: “Mandatory public affirmation of non-traditional sexual behaviour is required, as individuals must be free to act in accordance with their own wishes, not those of a larger norm or higher authority.” Get it now?

Kempling’s fight with the college goes back years. It’s inside baseball, way beyond these paragraphs. Briefly, though, he’s a Christian guy who doesn’t buy the new morality his professional body is touting and he won’t give in.

And the college? In its view, the obligation on educators imposed by B.C. law, to inculcate the highest morality, is discharged not by teaching everybody to keep it zippered, regardless of orientation, but by non-discrimination about sexual preference. So, as one of their judgments against him has it, Kempling’s writings show he is “not prepared to take into account the core values of the educational system, which recognize that homosexuals have a right to equality, personal dignity and respect.”

Of course, he would say he absolutely accords them respect, even as he disagrees with them. (See his article.)But here’s the thing. It’s not always what you say that gets you into trouble, it’s what other people say about you.

A homophobe isn’t necessarily somebody who doesn’t like gays. It can just be somebody gay activists don’t like. And a climate-change denier may not deny climate change, just disagree with Suzuki. Either way, they end up down range.

The issues change. Once, you couldn’t be a teacher and a Communist. That’s probably OK now — you can certainly be NDP — but if you’re a teacher and a Christian conservative, best not to say so. Today, it’s climate-change deniers who somebody wants to jail, but who is it going to be next? Columnist Mark Steyn?

John Ralston Saul was right when he wrote, “Free speech is afflicted by two widely held, contradictory opinions. The first is that we have it; the second, that it is a luxury.”  Everybody wants to be a censor. Everybody should watch out.

nhannaford@theherald.canwest.com

© The Calgary Herald 2008

d) In or about December, 2003, Mr.  Kempling provided his article entitled “Sexual Orientation Curricula: Implications for Educators” for publication in the Bulletin of the German Institute for Youth and Society.

See section 2(b) of the Charter regarding freedom of opinion and expression.  This essay is not the same version as the one I voluntarily provided to the College’s lawyer in 2000.  It is a scholarly essay with 91 bibliographic citations, the majority from peer reviewed journals or professional publications, including the BC College of Teachers own Report to Members publication.  On December 3, 2003, I sent District Principal Randy Curr an email informing him that this essay had been submitted to the German Institute for Youth and Society and that they wished to publish it in their Bulletin.  I had met the editor, Dr. Christl Vonholdt, at a NARTH conference in Salt Lake City in early November, 2003, and she requested permission to translate the essay into German and publish it.  The journal has no circulation in Canada.  Mr. Curr responded to my e-mail stating “Go ahead with the article”.  In a letter to me from Mr. Curr dated March 22, 2004, he states that he gave his permission to publish because the Bulletin “is not readily available in the Quesnel area.  That is why we did not perceive that to be a violation [of a prohibition about expressing my views on homosexuality]”.  In other words, I had explicit permission from my supervisor to publish the article.

I find it surprising that the College is opposed to scholarly research, especially when it is published in another country in another language.  Furthermore, since there is no copy of the journal article in English or German in the College’s Report of Preliminary Investigation, it is obvious that the College has not seen or read this version of my essay.  How can they cite me for unbecoming conduct for something they have not read?

e) On January 5, 2004, the CBC Radio aired an interview with Mr.  Kempling, conducted December 29, 2003, concerned an advertisement that he had previously published offering sexual “orientation change therapy.”

This interview occurred on December 29th, 2003 in my private practice office, on my Christmas vacation.  I was intending to offer orientation change therapy, a new service of my practice, and wished the public to know about it.  I still offer this therapy and it is still specified on my entry on the private practice services list of the British Columbia Association of Clinical Counsellors.  My counselling services, primarily to adult members of my own faith community, are none of the College’s business.  I have a professional association to whom I am accountable for my conduct, and if anyone has a concern about it, they are free to lay a complaint with the BCACC.  If I wish to speak with a reporter about my other profession, our freedom of speech guarantees in the Charter allows me to do so. 

I did receive a letter of discipline from the Quesnel School District for that interview (March 22, 2004), primarily because the radio announcer introduced me as a “school counsellor”.  I have no control over how reporters introduce their pieces and since, at the time, I was only offering the service to residents of Prince George who wished to travel to Quesnel for counselling, did not see that it was any concern of the Quesnel school district.  Some persons with same sex attractions are distressed by those attractions, because their homosexual adultery causes serious conflicts in their marriages, or it conflicts with their deeply held religious beliefs.  If autonomous adults wish to access therapeutic help to overcome these attractions, I am professionally qualified to assist them, and will continue to do so.

f) To the knowledge of Mr.  Kempling, the Christian Heritage Party posted on its website an article dated February 2004, entitled “Chris Kempling:  Our Canary in the Coal Mine”, describing homosexuality as immoral and abnormal, and calling for support for Mr.  Kempling.

The Christian Heritage Party, of which I am a member, is a registered Canadian political party, the sixth largest in the country.  In February, 2004, however, I was not a member (I joined in July, 2004).  The author of the article is Ron Gray, the National Leader of the CHP.  I did not ask Mr.  Gray to write the article, and since I wasn’t even a party member, had no control over what the Party chose to put on its website.  I agree that the article had some tendentious language.  After I became a party member, I asked Mr. Gray to remove the article and he did.  Nevertheless, I am concerned that the College is citing me for something someone else wrote.  If the College has a concern with what Mr. Gray wrote, they should be talking to Mr. Gray. 

The fact that the College cited me because Mr.  Gray was “calling for support for Mr.  Kempling” [he provided the deposit information for my legal defense fund], makes it appear that they wish to deny me the ability to fund raise for my own legal defense.  It is obviously extremely expensive to engage in civil litigation, and I am not independently wealthy to finance my own legal defense.  I am obliged to rely on others who wish to help me defend my civil rights, and I will continue to do so. 

g) Mr.  Kempling wrote a letter to the Quesnel newspaper published on January 12, 2005.  In this letter, Mr.  Kempling:

(i) associated homosexuality with immorality;

(ii) stated that he was the local representative of the Christian Heritage Party.

In the fall of 2004, Ron Gray, National Leader of the Christian Heritage Party, asked me to be the candidate for the CHP in the Cariboo-Prince George electoral district.  I agreed, and as designated spokesperson for the party in the region, I decided to comment on the proposed legislation to permit same sex marriage.  Our party was opposed then, and remains the only political party in Canada which is opposed to permitting same sex individuals to marry. 

By writing the letter in question, I wished to accomplish four purposes:  to let the voting public know what the CHP position on the matter was, and why; to persuade the public to oppose the legislation; to attract volunteers and members for the party in our riding; and to garner attention for my candidacy in the upcoming election.  The right to run for public office is guaranteed under section 3 of the Charter.  By citing me for stating that I “was the local representative of the Christian Heritage Party” the College is infringing my right under the Charter to run for office..  The 2003 Supreme Court of Canada Figueroa decision asserts the right of “fringe” political parties to play a meaningful role in the electoral process, even if some don’t like their platforms:

Per McLachlin C.J. and Iacobucci, Major, Bastarache, Binnie and Arbour JJ.:  While on its face, s. 3 grants only a right to vote and to run for office in elections, Charter analysis requires looking beyond the words of the section and adopting a broad and purposive approach.  The purpose of s. 3 is effective representation.  Section 3 should be understood with reference to the right of each citizen to play a meaningful role in the electoral process, rather than the election of a particular form of government.  This right is participatory and adverts only to a right to participate in the electoral process.  This definition ensures that s. 3 is not construed too narrowly and emphasizes the reasons why individual participation is important, including respect for diverse opinions and the capacity of individuals to enhance democracy.  Full political debate ensures an open society benefiting from diverse opinions and a social policy sensitive to the needs and interests of a broad range of citizens.  Participation in the electoral process has an intrinsic value independent of the outcome of elections.  The right to run for office provides an opportunity to present ideas and opinions to the electorate and the right to vote provides an opportunity for citizens to express support for ideas and opinions.  In a democracy, sovereign power resides in the people as a whole and each citizen must have a genuine opportunity to take part in the governance of the country through participation in the selection of elected representatives.

With regard to the allegation that my letter “associated homosexuality with immorality”, I did not use that word in my letter.  I did suggest that those in same sex marriage would be more prone to commit adultery, i.e. less likely to consider fidelity an important value in the marriage relationship.  I recall reading a headline in the gay newspaper Xtra which stated “How to be Married and Still Have F*** buddies”.   Those in long term same sex relationships often have outside casual liaisons (termed f***-buddies in gay slang) ..  Evidence from Vermont, Holland and Sweden, which have same-sex marriage or civil unions, support the idea that fidelity in long term relationships in those relationships is considered less important than in heterosexual marriages.  For example a study of same sex civil unions in Vermont found that 50% of them did not value sexual fidelity (Rothblum, E. & Solomon, S. (2003). Civil Unions in the State of Vermont:  A report on the first year. Burlington: University of Vermont).

My statement was a prediction based on research in other countries, and I believe that future research on Canadian same sex marriages will vindicate my position.  Indeed, adultery is a major cause of divorce, and research from Sweden is already showing that male same-sex marriages are 50% more likely to end in divorce while lesbian marriages are 167% more likely to end in divorce (Gallagher, M & Baker, J., May 3, 2004 Same Sex Unions and Divorce Risk:  Data from Sweden, iMAPP Policy Brief)..  The College of Teachers has no right to direct what types of reasoned discourse I may use on behalf of my party to persuade the voting public to join our party or support our position.  I stand by my statement.  

I should also iterate that one reason I decided to become active with a federal political party is the fact that the federal government has no constitutional right to regulate education, and consequently, educational issues are rarely dealt with in federal elections.  I wished to avoid a conflict of interest in my political activities.

h) Mr.  Kempling wrote a letter to the Quesnel newspaper published February 2, 2005 linking homosexuality with pedophilia.

This letter was a rebuttal letter, responding to one written by Mr.  Arthur Topham, a frequent contributor of rants (including anti-Semitic ones for which he was charged with a Human Rights complaint) to the Quesnel Cariboo Observer’s editorial page.  Mr.  Topham and I are acquainted with one another, and get along fine on a personal level.  We disagree on just about everything, however.  It is common for Mr.  Topham to respond to something I have written, and I like to banter with him on the editorial pages.

With regard to the allegation that linked “homosexuality with pedophilia”, one has to look at the context of my statements.  Here is the verbatim text on this matter:

“Mr.  Topham also ascribes the term “homophobia” to anyone who disagrees with the concept of same-sex marriage.  I know that a phobia is an extreme irrational fear, a mental illness, in fact.  People with a genuine phobia will often have panic attacks in the presence of the feared object—sweating, intense panic, racing heart, etc.  In all my years as a mental health professional, I have never encountered a single person with genuine homophobia.  It is simply a misuse of a mental health term and a bully tactic by those who want to silence social conservatives who disagree with them.  The logical source of homophobia are those people who have been victimized by homosexual pedophiles.”

Obviously, I am making a semantic argument here.  I object to the term homophobia because, as John McKellar, national director of Homosexuals Opposed to Pride Extremism, says, it is a “contrived slander” against social conservatives.  As a mental health professional, I know that phobias arise from intensely frightening or traumatic experiences with a feared object.  If someone was victimized by a homosexual pedophile as a child, it is possible that they may develop a pathological fear of homosexuals later in life.  This is merely “reasoned discourse” not a blanket association of homosexuals with pedophilia.  I acknowledge that the majority of pedophiles are heterosexual.  Nevertheless, I will not be bullied by name-calling liberals or have it implied that I have a mental illness when I merely express the views of my faith or of social conservatism.

i)  Mr.  Kempling made a statement to a Quesnel newspaper reporter, published April 14, 2005 by the Prince George Free Press in support of his earlier statements against homosexuality.

There is no copy of this article in the Report of Preliminary Investigation, nor any reference to it in other documents contained in the Report, so I cannot comment specifically on this point in the citation.  I do recall that a reporter asked my reaction to my loss at the BC Supreme Court level, and about my appeal to the BC Court of Appeal (February 18, 2004).  Since I was still exercising my right to appeal, I was merely asserting that I remained accountable for my statements and believed I would be successful in my appeal.  A man has a right to defend himself.

Conclusion

I believe this citation to be a violation of my freedom of speech, religion, opinion and expression, and of the right to pursue election as a member of Parliament.  I intend to defend these rights to the extent the law will permit me.

Dr.  Chris Kempling Psy.D. R.C.C., 

Quesnel, BC                                                                                                  March 7, 2008

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