Fundamental Freedoms

19 Jun 2020 Churches as unifiers should not be penalized for their effective contact tracing

By pastor Gerrit Bruintjes and André Schutten For the past month, many religious leaders have been calling on the Ontario government to ease its total ban on corporate worship services. On June 12th, the Ford government issued an executive order permitting religious ceremonies, including weddings and funerals, at 30% building capacity. In our current context amidst social unrest and uncertainty, this is a good decision not only because the Charter of Rights demands this response, but also because churches unify diverse people and can trace contacts well. In the last few weeks,...

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03 Jun 2020 As COVID restrictions drag on, the civil government needs guidance from the instituted church

By André Schutten I’m always moved when I read the introduction to the Belgic Confession in the Book of Praise. It explains that a copy of the Belgic Confession was sent to the persecuting King Philip II, with a letter from a group of petitioners who “declared that they were ready to obey the government in all lawful things, but that they would ‘offer their backs to stripes, their tongues to knives, their mouths to gags, and their whole bodies to fire,’ rather than deny the truth expressed in the Confession.”...

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02 Jun 2020 Still glorious and free? The duty of each Christian to stand on guard for freedom in an age of unprecedented lock-down

By André Schutten The chorus in our national anthem is a prayer: God keep our land glorious and free. O Canada we stand on guard for thee. So, what does that mean practically? Christians take prayer very seriously. It is the most important part of our thankfulness to God (Lord’s Day 45, Heidelberg Catechism). James teaches us that it’s no good to pray for the hungry and poor if we ourselves don’t also help the hungry and the poor (James 2:14-26). How does God answer our prayer to feed the hungry?...

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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 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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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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31 Mar 2020 Letter to Government Officials – hope and humility

The following letter was sent by ARPA Canada to Canada's federal and provincial government officials, encouraging them to find their hope and direction in our sovereign God. We ask you to join us in praying for a blessing on this letter, and invite you to reach out to them to encourage them and, if the opportunity allows, to lovingly point to their responsibility to govern faithfully, in obedience to the One who gave them their authority. A meeting, including through electronic means, would be an ideal way to communicate this...

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