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Religious Freedom in Canada

Chris Kempling

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Dr. Chris Kempling received a standing ovation for this address delivered on March 4, 2005 in New York City at a United Nations Commission on Human Rights Delegate Briefing.

"Canada does have religious freedom, but that freedom is under assault."

Canada is a country which prides itself on religious freedom and religious tolerance. And in many respects that is true. Citizens are free to practice their faiths according to their traditions, generally without interference from the government. And even when someone's religious beliefs conflicts with a long established Canadian tradition, great tolerance can be shown, as was the case with the first Sikh Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer permitted to wear a turban instead of the regulation hat. That constable started his career in my home town of Quesnel, and he was accepted and appreciated by the community.

Unfortunately, there are two primary areas of conflict between religious freedoms and government policy in Canada: abortion and homosexuality. A group of eight Christians, members of a group called Operation Rescue protesting abortion were arrested and sentenced to jail terms for peacefully protesting outside an abortion clinic. I met one of the men, Donald Spratt, who was incarcerated in British Columbia's maximum security Oakalla prison for his crime -- he was holding a sign outside an abortion clinic. Currently, he is awaiting trial in the BC Court of Appeal for violating the "bubble zone" of an abortion clinic. Once again, he was simply holding a sign with a Bible verse on it -- Thou shalt not kill.

A man by the name of Bill Whatcott, an evangelical Christian who is a licensed practical nurse, was fined $15,000 by his professional association, for protesting against abortion on his own time, and also fined $20,000 by the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission for speaking out against homosexuality. There is a great deal of intolerance shown towards religious people who express their views in public.

Read the entire article on the Catholic Educators website (new window will open).

Posted: 02-Nov-05



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