Same-sex “Marriage” and the Persecution of Christians in Canada

Since the watershed moment of legalization, Canadian social norms have shifted rapidly, and what was once considered fringe or debatable has become the new normal.

The Canadian Charter of Right and Freedoms declares that Canadians have a fundamental “freedom of conscience and religion” and “freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression.” But constitutional guarantees are at the mercy of lawyers, and Canadian lawyers have emerged as among the most fiercely intolerant of anyone, including their own colleagues, who fail to support same-sex “marriage.”

 

Canada legalized same-sex “marriage” in 2005, the fourth country in the world to do so. During the rushed public debate that preceded legalization, the Christian and traditional understanding of marriage as the union of a man and a woman had strong support. Polls showed a deep split among Canadians, and the majority (52 percent) were actually against legalization at the time that it occurred.

Opponents of same-sex “marriage” were given all kinds of assurances. The preamble to the Civil Marriage Act states that “everyone has the freedom of conscience and religion,” “nothing in this Act affects the guarantee of freedom of conscience and religion and, in particular, the freedom of members of religious groups to hold and declare their religious beliefs,” and “it is not against the public interest to hold and publicly express diverse views on marriage.”

But how quickly things change. Since the watershed moment of legalization, Canadian social norms have shifted rapidly, and what was once considered fringe or debatable has become the new normal.

Today, different opinions on “gender identity” and same-sex “marriage” are no longer tolerated. Our society is sweeping away respect for religious faiths that do not accept and celebrate same-sex “marriage,” and the Civil Marriage Act’s assurances seem merely farcical. It is not premature to speak of open discrimination against Christians in Canada.

Christian Lawyers Need Not Apply
The Canadian Charter of Right and Freedoms declares that Canadians have a fundamental “freedom of conscience and religion” and “freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression.” But constitutional guarantees are at the mercy of lawyers, and Canadian lawyers have emerged as among the most fiercely intolerant of anyone, including their own colleagues, who fail to support same-sex “marriage.”

This extreme intolerance became evident last year when Trinity Western University, the largest privately-funded Evangelical Christian university in Canada, set out to establish a law school. TWU’s plans were approved by British Columbia’s Ministry of Education, which seemed like the final green light. But in a truly unprecedented move, the law societies of three provinces, including Ontario, voted to deny accreditation to the law school.

The law societies gave only one reason, and it had nothing to do with sufficiency of the legal training of TWU graduates. The sole sticking point was the fact that TWU has acampus covenant which, among other things, asks students to abstain from same-sex (and heterosexual) sexual relationships outside of marriage, and states that marriage is reserved for man and woman.

The benchers who sit on provincial law societies are some of the most powerful lawyers in the country. In debating the TWU covenant, many of these elite lawyers made comparisons between the opposition to same-sex “marriage” and racism. For instance, one Ontario bencher said: “we can draw a useful analogy between public attitudes towards interracial dating and interracial marriage in 1985 and discrimination based on sexual orientation in 2014.” In British Columbia, one bencher put it this way: “there is no way to avoid asking … what this Law Society would do if the community covenant related to interracial marriage, even if that precept was based on religion as it was in the case of the Bob Jones University.“

The implication could not be more clear: Christians who believe in traditional marriage are the modern-day equivalent of racists, and warrant identical exclusion. Christian lawyers across Canada are now repeating the words of prominent Ontario lawyer Albertos Polizogopoulos: “I did not attend TWU, but I share its biblical view of marriage…. Do my religious beliefs, particularly about marriage, somehow disqualify me from ably practicing law? That is the inevitable conclusion and consequence if we endorse barring TWU law graduates from practicing law.”

Not only are Christian lawyers being pushed out by their colleagues, but they are also experiencing ostracism from their clients. As the debate over TWU heated in the media, some of Canada’s most powerful corporations created Legal Leaders for Diversity (LLD), a group that now includes over 70 of Canada’s largest corporations. Through LLD, these companies aim to alter the legal landscape by choosing to do business only with pro-gay law firms. Never before has there been a concerted effort to essentially starve Christian law firms out of business.

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