15 February 2008

Persecution Bases on Sexual Morality

When my brother-in-law was in the Lutheran seminary eighteen year ago, he said that in the future Christians would be persecuted based on their sexual morality. Gay rights would take precedence over religious freedom. Anyone teaching that practicing homosexuality is immoral will be legally charged with hate crimes. He said this eighteen years ago, and it is coming true today.

In Canada we have the Canadian Human Rights Commission and a provincial commission for each province except British Columbia. These commissions are empowered by Canadian law to investigate allegations of offensive speech. Once their investigation is completed, these cases are brought before the respective human rights tribunal for adjudication. In British Columbia, allegations of offensive speech are brought directly to the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal.

There is no cost to file a complaint, and these commissions provide legal support to the complainants. Those being accused, however, must cover their own legal costs.

Two such complaints were filed with the Alberta Human Rights Commission in March of 2005 against Bishop Fred Henry of Calgary after publishing a pastoral letter defending the traditional definition of marriage in January of that same year. Both complaints were eventually dropped; however, Bishop Henry said that the process is "fundamentally flawed." The problems he listed were the "presumption of guilt until you can prove your innocence; the open ended time lines for dealing with a complaint; and unjust incurring of financial expenditures for the defendant in the simple event of a complaint being lodged."

A complaint that wasn't dropped came later that year in which the Knights of Columbus of Port Coquitlam were fined by the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal for declining to rent their hall to a couple for a lesbian "wedding" reception. The council had to pay the two lesbians $1000 each in damages, plus legal costs.

More recently, Rob Wells, a member of the Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Transgendered Pride Centre of Edmonton, filed a complaint against Catholic Insight magazine for promoting "extreme hatred and contempt" against homosexuals. Some of the statements which he cites were actually taken from Vatican pronouncements.

My brother-in-law was right; we are being persecuted. If we want to continue to practice our faith, we may have to fight for it. A couple of groups leading the way in this fight are the Catholic Civil Rights League in Canada, and in the States, the National Organization for Marriage.