Justice and Freedom

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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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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18 Dec 2019 Edmonton ‘conversion therapy’ bylaw could penalize churches

Last week, Edmonton City Council officially banned “conversion therapy”. The decision was swift and unanimous. The practice and promotion of conversion therapy is prohibited within city limits. Disobedience is costly. The bylaw carries a minimum $10,000.00 fine. The bylaw prohibits any “technique”, “service”, “treatment” or “tactic” aimed at “eliminating or reducing sexual attraction or sexual behaviour between persons of the same sex” or intended to alter a person’s “sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or gender preference.” It applies to “businesses” broadly defined (any “profession, trade, occupation, calling, or employment” or...

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17 Dec 2019 Busting Myths on ARPA’s Position on Conversion Therapy

After our Facebook live discussion of conversion therapy, we received some negative feedback from the general public. We want to respond by busting some myths about ARPA’s position on conversion therapy. Criticism #1: How can you support a practice that is condemned by scientific and health institutions? Conversion therapy is a pseudoscience that is not based on science or facts. Response: First of all, ARPA Canada does not support conversion therapy. ARPA Canada instead supports body-affirming counselling, which is being inappropriately lumped together with aversion therapies under the too often ill-defined term...

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29 Nov 2019 What’s going on with Bill 207, Alberta’s conscience rights bill?

  *UPDATE (added Dec. 5): On Monday, December 2, while MLA Dan Williams was speaking on Bill 207, a tragic incident occurred outside the Assembly, which then adjourned. Consequently, Bill 207 was delayed. It will likely be revisited in February 2020, once the legislature resumes. Last week, an Alberta legislative committee voted against Bill 207.  So, is Bill 207 dead? Not quite. Ordinarily, a bill gets debated in the Assembly at second reading. Then, if it passes the “second reading vote”, it goes to an appropriate committee for closer study, where amendments are often...

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28 Nov 2019 Why liberalism and conservatism are both (mostly) wrong: Politics from a Christian worldview

by John Sikkema The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms acknowledges the "supremacy of God". Many see this as an inappropriate mixing of law and religion. Is it? What if the Charter stated instead that the individual is supreme? Or the people? Or the nation? Or the working class? Each of these would be a statement of the law’s foundational commitment, a statement of belief. We shouldn't think that politics becomes nonreligious simply by leaving out references to God. In his new book, Christian political philosopher David Koyzis helps us understand why. In...

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20 Nov 2019 Dispelling myths about Alberta’s conscience rights bill

  Bill 207, tabled by Alberta MLA Dan Williams, now faces fierce opposition. The bill proposes protections for health care providers’ freedom of conscience. It is scheduled for a vote at second reading on Monday, November 25. It deserves to pass and proceed to committee for further review and possible improvements.   Bill 207 does not threaten access to health care The primary line of attack is that Bill 207 threatens “access to health care”. “Imagine … a patient being denied access to a therapeutic abortion even if the woman’s life is in danger,”...

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07 Nov 2019 New Alberta bill offers robust protections for freedom of conscience

    We have encouraging news. Dan Williams, MLA for Peace River, Alberta, tabled a bill today that would protect both individual health care providers and health care facilities from being required to provide services that conflict with their religious beliefs, conscientious beliefs, ethical judgment, or cultural traditions. One of the bill’s stated purposes is to provide certainty to health care providers and religious health care organizations with respect to exercising their Charter-protected freedoms of conscience and religion. This is greatly needed in a time when both individual providers and religious health care...

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