In the April 2005 issue of Exodus’ Impact political newsletter, organization president Alan Chambers defends his involvement of Exodus in political extremism by claiming that “the enemy” — homosexuals? Satan? — is encroaching upon “our freedom to minister.”
That may be only half-true — and to the extent it is true, it may be for reasons traceable to both gay and antigay activists.
Chambers writes (in boldface print):
our Canadian ministries are in danger of being shut down because simply providing an alternative to homosexuality is considered ‘hateful’ and ‘harmful’ to gay identified people in Canada. That was the result of hate crimes legislation that continued to be amended until it ended up that even a pastor reading a passage like I Corinthians 6:9-10 from the pulpit on a Sunday morning is punishable by fine or imprisonment.
Google searches by XGW indicate that at least 15 additional pages of Exodus’ media blog make the allegation (most recently last week), and three pages of the Exodus official web site make use of the claim. Several other recent Exodus newsletters also repeat the allegation, but Exodus never substantiates it.
If it can’t be documented, then is the threat real?
An article at ReligiousTolerance.org suggests that Exodus is greatly exaggerating the threat in Canada, while a recent op-ed by George Will suggests that the religious right has begun to damage its credibility with runaway claims of victimhood.
According to RT.org, a “notwithstanding” clause in Canada’s hate-speech law allows religiously motivated hate speech. The remainder of the law was amended, with the approval of the Queen, to cover any sexual orientation (including heterosexuality).
Sponsor Svend Robinson is quoted saying:
“There’s not an attorney general in the country anywhere at any level who would consent to the prosecution of an individual for quoting from the Bible. An attorney general who tried something like that would be run out of town on a rail.” He said that the Progressive Conservatives, New Democratic Party and Bloc Québécois members support the bill, but that the extreme right-wing Canadian Alliance does not. He said that the Alliance has “…opposed every equality bill that’s come before the House for gays and lesbians.”
RT.org refers to “two passages in the Criminal Code that specifically allow religious individuals to legally engage in hate propaganda against gays and lesbians. … Section 308 already contains a passage that protects a person from prosecution if their statements are relevant to any subject of public interest, and if, on reasonable grounds, the person believes them to be true.”
In perhaps the latest case that will measure the scope of this law, antigay Catholic bishop Fred Henry said in a January pastoral letter and newspaper column:
“Since homosexuality, adultery, prostitution and pornography undermine the foundations of the family, the basis of society, then the State must use its coercive power to proscribe or curtail them in the interests of the common good.”
Two complaints against these comments have prompted an investigation by the Alberta Human Rights Commission.
From Canadian Press:
Stephen Lock, regional director of Egale Canada, a gay rights lobby group, said he doesn’t dispute that Henry has an obligation to represent the views of his church, including on same-sex marriage.
But Lock said lumping homosexuality in with things like pornography and prostitution is going too far.
“When anyone starts calling for the coercive power of the State to suppress or curtail any legal activity, that’s really oppressive to be saying stuff like that,” Lock said.
In other words, Rev. Henry is complaining about threatened limitations on his own freedom of speech resulting from his own efforts to eradicate the freedoms of others.
What Exodus calls “freedom of speech with regard to a Biblical view of human sexuality” is not at issue here. What seems to be at issue is the right of rival factions to defame and suppress one another.
Tongue in cheek: Perhaps what Canada really needs is a new law that will silence both gay activists and antigay/exgay activists.