A group of Canadian Christian leaders is raising the alarm about what they say are attacks on their faith, citing barriers to a Christian university setting up a law school and doctors opposed to ending pregnancies being forced to refer patients elsewhere.
The group, including Charles McVety, president of the Institute for Canadian Values, pointed to a number of recent events they said equate to an attack on the Christian faith and impinge on Christians' ability to practice their faith.
The events include:
- A refusal by three provincial bar associations to accredit any potential law school graduate of Trinity Western University, which prohibits sexual intimacy outside heterosexual marriage among its students.
- A letter from Bank of Montreal to the Law Society of Upper Canada, which governs Ontario lawyers, arguing against accrediting Trinity Western's proposed law school.
- A commitment by the general counsel of 72 companies to promote diversity and inclusion.
- The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario requiring that doctors with religious objections to birth control or abortion refer those patients to another physician.
"Unfortunately, Christians in this country find themselves under attack," McVety said at a news conference on Parliament Hill.
"This is a violation, and we are calling on the Canadian government to stop this type of violation across this country."
British Columbia last December revoked approval for Trinity Western's proposed law school, which was planned to launch in 2016. Law societies in B.C., Ontario and Nova Scotia have voted to deny accreditation to future graduates.
But the Nova Scotia Supreme Court overturned the provincial law society's decision, which the Nova Scotia Barristers Society said yesterday it would appeal.
Trinity Western is also fighting the rejection of the Law Society of British Columbia and has said it will fight the rejection in Ontario too.
'We cannot be silent'
Law societies in Alberta, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador and Nunavut have decided to accept Trinity Western's graduates.
Lawyer André Schutten, who has intervened in a number of freedom of religion court cases, said regulations and laws "continue to be passed that restrict or curtail the religious freedom of Canadians."
"In various municipalities, Christians have been prevented or even fined for holding church services in rented public space," said Schutten, legal counsel for the Association for Reformed Political Action.
"Professional bodies have indicated they want to force doctors to violate their consciences by either performing or being forced to refer for procedures that are immoral — including the horrific and barbarous act of killing innocent pre-born children."
Bill Prankard, president of the Bill Prankard Evangelistic Association, noted every Canadian is protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
'Enough is enough'
"While other groups are being granted more and more rights, we've been losing ours," he said.
"We are saying enough is enough. We cannot be silent anymore."
Schutten said the group is looking for a statement from the federal government in support of religious freedom across the country, but admits the issues they raised Wednesday morning have more to do with provincial and municipal governments, as well as professional regulatory bodies.
"[Such a statement] ready-sets the tone for inclusivity, tolerance of other world views, including the Judeo-Christian world view," he said.
"Those levels of government also have to step up and be willing and ready to play fair with religious groups, including and especially I think Christian groups."