I thought you might find this case illuminating as to the continued use of ‘tolerance’ to be intolerant, of using ‘anti-discrimination’ laws to discriminate, of using ‘diversity’ to marginalise public out-workings of Christianity in Canada.
Much as we saw with the enforced withdrawing of Catholic adoption agencies in the UK, ideological purity and anti-Christian sentiment is far more important than the genuine good that these agencies are / were doing within society.
In what is being described as “another blow to religious liberty” in Canada, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario has ordered a Christian organization to cease using an employment contract which has staff promise they will not engage in “homosexual relationships.” Moreover, the ruling demands that the organization pay $23,000, plus two years wages and benefits to a woman who signed onto the contract and then entered a homosexual relationship and was subsequently dismissed.
In an April 15 ruling, released today, the Tribunal ruled against Christian Horizons, an Evangelical Christian Ministry that provides care and residential services to 1,400 developmentally disabled individuals with over 180 residential homes across Ontario, and 2,500 employees.
The ruling which was decided by a single adjudicator – Michael Gottheil – ruled further that all managers and employees receive a pro-homosexuality “human rights training program”. Christian Horizons was also ordered to “develop and adopt an anti-discrimination and an anti-harassment policy” and “review of its employment policies, in consultation with the Commission” and report to the Commission on its progress, to ensure that such policies comply with the Code.
The ruling also stated, “No later than six months from the date of this decision, the respondent, Christian Horizons shall submit a report to the Tribunal outlining the steps it proposes to take to ensure that its employment policies are in compliance with the Code”.
Connie Heintz, an employee who signed onto the “morality statement” as a condition of employment, promised not to engage in “homosexual relationships”, among other anti-Christian activities such as “extra-marital sexual relationships (adultery)”, “pre-marital sexual relationships (fornication)”, “viewing or reading pornographic material” and “lying”.
When Heintz entered into a homosexual relationship and her employers came to know of it, she claims she was subject to a poisoned work environment and threatened with loss of her job. She quit her job in 2000.
Christian Horizons is the largest provider of community living services in the province, funded approximately $75 million annually by the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services.
Commenting on the decision, Barbara Hall, the Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission opined, “This decision is important because it sets out that when faith-based and other organizations move beyond serving the interests of their particular community to serving the general public, the rights of others, including employees, must be respected.”
An interesting commentary on this, from which I have excerpted, can be found here.
Canada’s human rights commissions have been scraping the bottom of the barrel for some time now in their head-over-heels eagerness to produce unfavorable verdicts against all things Christian and conservative. In all of the barrel scraping, however, they’ve generally stuck to their trusty tactic of applying the legal fig-leaf of “intolerance” – pointing out just how intolerably intolerant, prejudiced, hateful, discriminatory, close-minded and bigoted Christians and conservatives are, and why, therefore, they are a menace, must be punished and, ultimately, silenced.
The most recent decision to come out of the Ontario Human Rights Commission is unique, however, in that the tribunal ditches precedent and instead gushes about just how wonderfully non-discriminatory and loving Christian Horizons (the defendant in the case) is. And then, after pages of that, the tribunal goes ahead and slaps the Christian charity with a guilty verdict anyway.
Throughout the 57-page decision Adjudicator Gottheil goes way out of his way to prove that CH does not and never has discriminated in any way, shape, or form when it comes to providing care for those in need. Christian Horizons, he argues, citing page after page of anecdotal and statistical evidence, seeks only to care for the “vulnerable, the marginalized and the needy” without any thought for their race, age, religious beliefs, or anything else, including, presumably, sexual orientation.
He writes, “Christian Horizons accepts all persons into its programs regardless of cultural background or religious belief.” And again: “In order to receive service from Christian Horizons, residents and their families are not required to be members of the organization or to adopt or sign the Doctrinal Statement or the Lifestyle Morality Statement.” And once again: “Christian Horizons’ witnesses were clear that it does not attempt to proselytize or engage in the religious indoctrination of residents.”
Time and again, paragraph after paragraph, page after page, we are assured by Gottheil that CH dispenses its services freely, liberally, to everyone and anyone who is in need, without exception. What is more, Gottheil cites the testimonies of both Christian and non-Christian families who have placed a family member in the care of Christian Horizons. “All,” writes Gottheil in a moving testimony to the success of CH in providing care without ideological consideration, “said that Christian Horizons provided excellent care for their children and siblings.”
But then, in a twist of logic that leaves one dizzy and not a little flustered, Gottheil stands the whole thing on its head and goes on to prove that CH’s very tolerance is the reason why it must be punished and cannot be permitted to continue existing as a Christian organization. Because CH has been so successful as a Christian charity, it can no longer continue to be a Christian charity, he says. Because CH has not discriminated, it must be found guilty of discrimination. Because CH’s Christian employees have been so thoroughly Christian in the selflessness of their charity, CH must cease hiring only Christian employees.
All of this comes about because of Gottheil’s interpretation of section 24(1)(a) of the Human Rights Code, “which permits certain organizations to restrict hiring or give preference in employment to persons identified by one of the proscribed grounds of discrimination.” According to Gottheil’s interpretation of the Code, section 24(1)(a) only permits those organizations that exist to offer services to the exact same class of people that they employ to be exempt from non-discrimination employment legislation. That is, if the charity hires only Christians, it can only offer its services to Christians.
Which just goes to show that neither the letter nor the spirit of a law is enough to prevent it being turned on its head and used for an ideological purpose, to wit chilling the public expression of Christianity in Canada. Some more from here.
Don Hutchinson, General Legal Counsel for the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, summarized the situation by way of analogy in a article in the National Post today. He wrote: “Imagine that Mother Theresa and her Missionaries of Charity had been told that their ministry in the streets of Calcutta was, in essence, not ministry but ‘social work.’ In order for the sisters to continue in their work, they would no longer be permitted to require that staff members share their beliefs and ministry commitment.”
Hutchinson’s comparison between Mother Teresa’s sisters in India and CH’s operations in Canada is particularly apt. In India Mother Teresa’s sisters were often persecuted by Hindu extremists because they wore their habits – wore, as it were, their Christianity ‘on their sleeves’.
Hutchinson told LifeSiteNews.com, “It is unreasonable for any tribunal to make a decision which assumes that faith and practice can be severed and in this case the capacity for practice in the type of ministry that Christian Horizons exhibits is dependent on a shared faith commitment amongst its staff.”
Perhaps the Ontario government might be concerned at the persecution of a charity that provides so much for society? Not so much if it means offending the great gods Discrimination and Tolerance.
Since CH is the largest provider of community living services in the province, providing care and residential services to 1,400 developmentally disabled individuals with over 180 residential homes across Ontario, (not to mention emplyoing 2,300 individuals) the ending of its ministry would present no small problem for the provincial government, which provides $75 million annually to CH for its services. That reality, however, seems not to have dawned on the provincial government.
Julia Sakas, Communications Assistant to Madeleine Meilleur, the provincial Minister of Community and Social Services, spoke with LifeSiteNews.com about the matter. Although the government wants “to see that those clients continue to receive services and that those services will not be disrupted,” she said, “anything that would be determined as discriminatory would not be tolerated.”
“We expect our provincial organizations that are funded by the province to uphold the province’s shared values and those are that we don’t discriminate and we respect the law and we respect the same from our agencies,” said Sakas. One requirement, she explained, would be that employment contracts would not “infringe on the right to live one’s lifestyle as one chooses.”
Just so long as that lifestyle is the Correct one, of course.
All these pleasant sounding words are simply smooth covering over the precise opposite. There are none so intolerant as the ‘tolerant’, none so discriminatory as those espousing ‘non-discrimination’. And so it goes on.
It’s time to choose the God, or gods, you will serve, for remaining neutral will soon no longer be an option.