Canada is a model of what could happen in America if the so-called hate crimes legislation becomes the law of the land, and the Democrats will doubtless make this a priority if they win the presidency. Barak Obama has said that he will use the “bully pulpit” to promote homosexual rights and will make this one of his highest priorities.
Such laws are used by homosexuals and Muslims and other enemies of the Christian faith to exact vengeance upon and shut the mouths of Christians.
Since Canada enacted “hate crimes” legislation at the provincial and national level, gave special protected status to homosexuals, and set up human rights commissions and tribunals, the persecution against Christians has grown steadily.
There are 10 human rights commissions in Canada, the national commission, known as the Canadian Human Rights Commission, and a provincial commission for each of Canada’s 10 provinces, except British Columbia (“Canada’s Human Rights Beef with Catholics,” Zenit, Feb. 5, 2008). These nine provinces also have human rights tribunals. British Columbia lumps its commission and tribunal into one body.
Complaints brought before the human rights commissions are investigated, and if deemed worthy, are sent to a tribunal for prosecution.
The commissions and tribunals are “quasi-judicial bodies” that have the full power of government behind them, but they operate separately from the court system and do not provide their victims even the basic due process protections that rapists and murderers enjoy in the courts. All an activist must do is file a complaint claiming that his feelings have been hurt and that he is offended by something that a Christian has said or done, and the tribunals bring governmental authority to bear against the “offender.” There is no cost to the complainant, but the accused is forced to pay his own legal costs, which can run into the tens of thousands of dollars. If found guilty he must pay “damages” to the offended party, plus he must pay his accuser’s legal fees. There is a presumption of guilt and the accused must labor under adverse circumstances to prove his or her innocence.
An outspoken Christian has no real protection under this system. It is a grossly discriminatory, lose-lose situation from beginning to end.
As Ezra Levant, a lawyer who is defending himself before a human rights tribunal, observes, “Even if we win, we lose--the process has become the punishment. It is procedurally unfair. Unlike real courts, there is no way to apply for a dismissal of nuisance lawsuits. Common law rules of evidence don’t apply. Rules of court don’t apply. It is a system that is part Kafka, and part Stalin.”
In 1997 the Ontario Human Rights Commission fined the City of London and its mayor, DIANE HASKETT, $10,000 for refusing to proclaim Gay Pride Day. It also ordered Haskett to make a public statement praising the “valuable contributions of gays and lesbians to her community,” which she refused to do. She said, “I will not bow down to the ruling of the human rights commission and I am willing to bear any consequences of that. If this ruling is left unchallenged, any Canadian can be forced to say what they don’t believe ... The implications are so staggering it should be a matter for legal review” (“Gay Pride Fallout,” The Interim, February 1998).
In 2001 in Toronto, Ontario, printer SCOTT BROCKIE was fined $5,000 for refusing to print homosexual-themed stationery for the Canadian Gay and Lesbian Archives. The human rights commissioner in this case was Heather MacNaughton.
In 2002 in Saskatchewan the StarPhoenix newspaper of Saskatoon and HUGH OWENS were ordered to pay $1,500 to three homosexual activists for publishing an ad in the newspaper in 1997 quoting Bible verses regarding homosexuality. The advertisement displayed references to four Bible passages (Romans 1, Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-10) on the left side. An equal sign (=) was situated in the middle, with a symbol on the right side comprised of two males holding hands with the universal sign of a red circle with a diagonal bar superimposed over the top. Owens bought the ad and the StarPhoenix merely printed it. The Human Rights Commission’s ruling was appealed to the courts. In February 2003 the Court of Queen’s Bench in Saskatchewan refused to overturn it, with Justice J. Barclay saying the advertisement was an incitement to hatred. But in April 2006 the ruling was overturned by the Saskatchewan Court of Appeals (“Court Reverses Ruling,” WorldNetDaily, April 14, 2006).
In 2005 a British Columbia KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS council was ordered to pay $2,000 to two lesbians, plus their legal costs, for refusing to allow its facility to be used for their “wedding.” The human rights commissioner in this case was Heather MacNaughton.
In January 2006, Catholic city councilman JOHN DECICCO of Kamloops, British Columbia, was fined $1,000 and required to apologize for saying that homosexuality is “not normal or natural” (LifeSiteNews, Jan. 19, 2007). In his remarks, which were made in a city council meeting, DeCicco was expressing the official doctrine of his church. The fine goes to two homosexual activists who brought the complaint. DeCicco was also forced to issue a public statement that his comments were “inappropriate and hurtful to some.” DeCiccco told LifeSiteNews, “I’m not against lesbian and gay people, but I don’t agree that I should have to endorse it.”
In January 2002 the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal levied a fine of $7500 against the VANCOUVER RAPE RELIEF SOCIETY for its refusal to allow a male-to-female “transsexual” named Kimberly Dawn to train as a rape and abuse hotline counsellor. In an article at its web site dated April 16, 2000, the society argued that it operates as a women-only society and that it is not wrong to exclude an individual who has grown up as a man and who its clients might not accept as a woman. The original complaint was brought in 1995. The tribunal commissioner who imposed the heavy-fisted sentence was Heather MacNaughton.
In 2005 in Alberta FRED HENRY, Roman Catholic bishop of Calgary, was subject to two complaints before the Alberta Human Rights Commission after publishing a pastoral letter defending the traditional definition of marriage earlier that same year. (“Canada’s Human Rights Beef with Catholics,” Zenit, Feb. 5, 2008). Bishop Henry told Zenit: “The social climate right now is that we’re into a new form of censorship and thought control, and the commissions are being used as thought police.”
In February 2007 complaints were brought before the Human Rights Commission targeting CATHOLIC INSIGHT magazine and priest ALPHONSE DE VALK, a well-known pro-life activist, for quoting from the Bible and church documents to refute “same-sex marriage.” The complaint was brought by homosexual activist Rob Wells, a member of the Gay, Lesbian and Transgendered Pride Center of Edmonton. He accuses the magazine of promoting “extreme hatred and contempt” against homosexuals. de Valk says, “The basic view of the Church is that homosexual acts are a sin, but we love the sinner,” adding that opposing same-sex marriage is not the same as rejecting homosexuals as persons (“Canada’s Human Rights Beef with Catholics,” Zenit, Feb. 5, 2008).
In 2007 the CHRISTIAN HERITAGE PARTY OF CANADA and its leader RON GRAY were investigated by the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) after a homosexual activist complained that he was offended by material on the party’s web site. The activist, Rob Wells, has also launched complaints against Craig Chandler in Alberta and Alphonse de Valk and Catholic Insight magazine. One of the articles that Wells complained about was an April 29, 2002, report published by WorldNetDaily in America citing a study that found that pedophilia is more common among homosexuals (http://wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=27431). Another article, written by Ron Gray, protested Canada’s bill to legalize same-sex marriage. Gray told LifeSiteNews: “Christians are probably the best friends homosexuals have in the world because we want to see them delivered from an addiction that will shorten their lives in this world and condemn them in the next. I’m not motivated by hate at all. I would guess that very few if any real Christians are motivated by hate in their response to these issues. It’s a question of compassion. Who truly loves you, someone who tells you the truth even when it hurts, or someone who will tell you you’re okay even when you’re headed down the wrong road. The Scripture says, ‘Faithful are the wounds of a friend, and deceitful are the kisses of an enemy’” (“Christian Political Party before Human Rights Commission,” LifeSiteNews, Nov. 27, 2007). He added: “I really think this is a crucial case because if an agency of the government, which the CHRC is, can tell a political party what it may and may not include in its political statements we have gone way down the road to totalitarianism.”
In 2007, in British Columbia, a complaint was made against MACLEAN’S MAGAZINE (Canada’s leading newsweekly) for publishing an excerpt from MARK STEYN’S book America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It. The article, published in October 2006, was entitled “The Future Belongs of Islam.” The complaint was brought by Naiyer Habib and Mohamed Elmasry, an imam and president of the Canadian Islamic Congress. Elmasry appeared on the Michael Coren Show in Toronto in 2004 and said that anyone in Israel over the age of 18 was a justifiable target of Palestinian attacks (“Mark Steyn Human Rights Tribunal,” LifeSiteNews, June 3, 2008). He later apologized, but his basic outlook is obvious. Yet he had the audacity to complain to the Canadian Human Rights Commission that the MacLean’s article portrayed Muslims as “inhuman” and “violent.” The case was referred to the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal, which opened its proceedings against Steyn and the magazine in June 2008.
In January 2008 the Alberta Human Rights Tribunal began its proceedings against EZRA LEVANT. He is defending himself against complaints by Islamic activists who have protested the publication of Danish cartoons of Mohammed for news purposes in the Western Standard magazine in 2006. In his opening remarks to the tribunal on January 11, 2008, Levant made the following powerful and eloquent statement:
“When the Western Standard magazine printed the Danish cartoons of Mohammed two years ago, I was the publisher. It was the proudest moment of my public life. I would do it again today. In fact, I did do it again today. Though the Western Standard, sadly, no longer publishes a print edition, I posted the cartoons this morning on my website, ezralevant.com.
“I am here at this government interrogation under protest. It is my position that the government has no legal or moral authority to interrogate me or anyone else for publishing these words and pictures. That is a violation of my ancient and inalienable freedoms: freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and in this case, religious freedom and the separation of mosque and state. It is especially perverted that a bureaucracy calling itself the Alberta human rights commission would be the government agency violating my human rights. So I will now call those bureaucrats ‘the commission’ or ‘the hrc’, since to call the commission a ‘human rights commission’ is to destroy the meaning of those words. I believe that this commission has no proper authority over me. The commission was meant as a low-level, quasi-judicial body to arbitrate squabbles about housing, employment and other matters, where a complainant felt that their race or sex was the reason they were discriminated against. The commission was meant to deal with deeds, not words or ideas. Now the commission, which is funded by a secular government, from the pockets of taxpayers of all backgrounds, is taking it upon itself to be an enforcer of the views of radical Islam. So much for the separation of mosque and state.
“I have read the past few years’ worth of decisions from this commission, and it is clear that it has become a dump for the junk that gets rejected from the real legal system. I read one case where a male hair salon student complained that he was called a ‘loser’ by the girls in the class. The commission actually had a hearing about this. Another case was a kitchen manager with Hepatitis-C, who complained that it was against her rights to be fired. The commission actually agreed with her, and forced the restaurant to pay her $4,900. In other words, the commission is a joke--it’s the Alberta equivalent of a U.S. television pseudo-court like Judge Judy--except that Judge Judy actually was a judge, whereas none of the commission’s panellists are judges, and some aren’t even lawyers. And, unlike the commission, Judge Judy believes in freedom of speech. It’s bad enough that this sick joke is being wreaked on hair salons and restaurants. But it’s even worse now that the commissions are attacking free speech.
“That’s my first point: the commissions have leapt out of the small cage they were confined to, and are now attacking our fundamental freedoms. We have a heritage of free speech that we inherited from Great Britain that goes back to the year 1215 and the Magna Carta. We have a heritage of eight hundred years of British common law protection for speech, augmented by 250 years of common law in Canada. That common law has been restated in various fundamental documents, especially since the Second World War.
“In 1948, the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which Canada is a party, declared that, quote: ‘Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.’
“The 1960 Canadian Bill of Rights guaranteed, quote, 1. ‘human rights and fundamental freedoms, namely, (c) freedom of religion; (d) freedom of speech; (e) freedom of assembly and association; and (f) freedom of the press.’
“In 1982, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guaranteed, quote: ‘2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: a) freedom of conscience and religion; b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication.’
“Those were even called ‘fundamental freedoms’--to give them extra importance. For a government bureaucrat to call any publisher or anyone else to an interrogation to be quizzed about his political or religious expression is a violation of 800 years of common law, a Universal Declaration of Rights, a Bill of Rights and a Charter of Rights. This commission is applying Saudi values, not Canadian values” (http://ezralevant.com/2008/01/kangaroo-court.html).
In March 2008 the Canadian government ordered MACGREGOR MINISTRIES, an apologetics ministry, shut down because its reference materials were ‘critical’ of the beliefs of those who are not Christian (WorldNetDaily, March 21, 2008). Lorri MacGregor told WND that Canada’s version of a ‘hate crimes’ law prevented their work from continuing as it had for nearly 30 years. The ministry was ordered to either make wholesale changes in its presentations, or shut down. They were required to say that all religions are equal, stop publishing their magazine on cults, remove all offending material from their website, and stop selling any products teaching about cults. Refusing to operate under those conditions, they moved the ministry to America.
In June 2008 STEPHEN BOISSON, an evangelical youth pastor, was banned from expressing opposition to homosexuality in any public forum and ordered to pay $7,000 “damages for pain and suffering” to the homosexual activist who complained against him. The trouble began in 2002 when Boisson wrote a letter to the editor of the Red Deer Advocate newspaper in Alberta and denounced the advance of homosexual activism in the schools. Printed under the heading “Homosexual Agenda Wicked,” the letter said: “Children as young as five and six years of age are being subjected to psychologically and physiologically damaging pro-homosexual literature and guidance in the public school system; all under the fraudulent guise of equal rights.” This offended a homosexual teacher named Darren Lund who complained to the Alberta Human Rights Tribunal.
NOT JUST A CANADA PROBLEM
“Human rights” and “hate crimes” laws are being used to persecute Christians in many parts of the world, in Europe, Australia, Brazil, even the United States at the local and state level. Hate crimes laws are being promoted at the international level by the United Nations.
In April 2003, two Christians were found guilty of violating Brazil’s “hate crime” law by witnessing on the beaches of Sao Paulo state (Compass News Service, May 23, 2003). The charges were brought by Spiritist groups in connection with an annual evangelistic outreach. The Spiritists claimed that the gospel tracts disparaged their pagan goddess. Two leaders of the outreach were targeted: Baptist pastor Joaquim de Andrade and Aldo dos Santos Menezes, a deacon in an Anglican church. The judge fined them about $300 each and warned that if they do not stop “proselytizing” Spiritists, they will face harsher consequences. The conviction was overturned by an appeals court in 2004.
In June 2004 Pentecostal Pastor Ake Green in Sweden became the first pastor in the European Union to be charged under hate crimes. He was convicted for denouncing homosexuality as “abnormal,” “something sick,” and “a deep cancerous tumor in the body of society” and sentenced to one month in jail. The conviction was overturned by an appeals court.
In October 2004 eleven Christians with the Repent America organization who were protesting a homosexual “Outfest” in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, were arrested and charged with a laundry list of crimes. In February 2005 four members of the group stood trial on three felony and five misdemeanor counts and the judge dismissed all charges. Common Pleas Court Judge Pamela Dembe said, “We cannot stifle speech because we don’t want to hear it, or we don’t want to hear it now” (“Judge Drops Charges,” Baptist Press, Feb. 18, 2005). (Homosexual activists claim that the group was disrupting their program and refusing police requests to move, but the judge ruled that they did nothing illegal.) Repent America uses placards such as “God Abhors You.”
In December 2004 two pastors were convicted under a hate crimes law in Victoria, Australia. The case stems from a seminar that Daniel Nalliah and Daniel Scott of Catch the Fire Ministries conducted in March 2002. The two pastors lectured on the differences between Christianity and Islam and quoted information about Islam directly from the Quran. They were accused by the Islamic Council of inciting hatred, and the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal sided against them, even though the judge admitted that they quoted the Koran accurately. The cost of defending themselves against the accusations surpassed $150,000.
In April 2007 the Hindu-American Foundation began publishing a list of Christian organizations that are supposedly guilty of “hate crimes” against Hindus. The report, Hyperlink to Hinduphobia, lists 37 groups that it calls “extremist organizations with hate against Hindus and Hinduism,” claiming that these are “websites devoted to fomenting hatred and violence against particular religious and ethnic groups.” The list includes the Southern Baptist Convention, Christian Answers Network, Cutting Edge Ministries, Christian Broadcasting Network, Mission Frontiers, and Gospel for Asia. Way of Life Literature is included in the list because of an article entitled “Hinduism’s Pagan Practices” which “portrays the religion in demonic terms ... [saying that] the Beatles and other rock and rollers were in direct communion with demons when they popularized Hinduism to the hippy generation in the 1960s.” The Hindu American Foundation is urging Internet providers to ban the web sites on its list.
In July 2007 a homosexual man won a job discrimination claim against the Church of England. After John Reaney was turned down for a youth worker’s post in Cardiff, Wales, he complained to the government that he was being unlawfully discriminated against on the basis of his sexual orientation. The employment tribunal agreed. Homosexual activists rejoiced at the ruling. One said that the “church must learn that denying people jobs on the ground of their sexuality is no longer acceptable” (“Gay Christian Wins Job Tribunal against Church of England,” Daily Mail, July 18, 2007).
In April 2008 the New Mexico Human Rights Commission fined a Christian photography studio $6,600 for discriminating against homosexuals. Elaine Huguenin and her husband Jon, co-owners of Elane Photography in Albuquerque, politely refused to photograph a lesbian couple’s “commitment ceremony.” One of the lesbians, Vanessa Willock, filed a complaint with the New Mexico Human Rights Commission claiming the Huguenins discriminated against her because of her “sexual orientation.” Jordan Lorence, a lawyer with the Alliance Defense Fund that is representing the Huguenins, said: “This decision is a stunning disregard for religious liberty and First Amendment freedoms of people of faith, of Christians, and those who believe in traditional marriage defined as one man and one woman. This shows the very disconcerting, authoritarian face of the homosexual activists, who are using these non-discrimination laws as weapons against Christians in the business world and Christians in their churches” (“New Mexico Commission Orders Fine,” OneNewsNow, April 11, 2008). Lorence believes the Huguenins will win an appeal of the decision, but he warns this is how similar laws in 19 other states, and the proposed federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act, can be misused to silence biblical beliefs.
In May 2008 a policeman in Birmingham, England, ordered two Christian preachers to stop handing out gospel leaflets in a predominantly Muslim area of Birmingham. Evangelists Arthur Cunningham and Jospeh Abraham say they were threatened with arrest for committing a ‘hate crime’ and were told they risked being beaten up if they returned (“Christian Preachers Face Arrest in Birmingham,” London Telegraph, June 1, 2008).
The objective of homosexual activists is to shut down every church that opposes their agenda and refuses to keep quiet.
THE GOOD NEWS AND THE GOOD FIGHT
The good news in this sorry state of affairs is that at least some of the public is growing upset at the attack on freedom of speech and religion. The hearings against MacLean’s magazine have received considerable media attention. Journalists are present from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, National Post, 24 Hours, and CKNW radio. The Canadian Association of Journalists and the BC Civil Liberties Association have taken the side of MacLean’s and Steyn. Jason Gratl, a lawyer for these organizations, said: “We’re of the view in the first place that the human rights tribunal doesn’t have any business deciding what appropriate expression in Canada might be” (LifeSiteNews, June 3, 2008).
LifeSiteNews reported on June 3, 2008, that in the previous week Liberal MP Keith Martin introduced a motion to Parliament proposing to investigate the practices of the Canadian Human Rights Commission. “The motion specifically refers to the public’s concerns about the CHRC’s investigative techniques and their interpretation and application of section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act on ‘hate’ crimes.”
God’s people need to take a stand against this persecution. We need to fight back by every lawful means, to be outspoken and not draw back from fear, and most importantly we need to pray earnestly and daily about this matter. If we take the priceless right of freedom of speech and freedom of religion for granted and do not use it to proclaim God’s Word are not willing to stand up for it and plead to God for it, we don’t deserve to have it.
“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:1-4).
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