IN world history, freedom is an anomaly. It is only in cultures shaped by Christianity and its understanding that all men and women are made in the image of God and thus individually of inestimable value that freedom has truly existed. This freedom is evidenced in a respect for individuals which results in persuasion rather than force, discussion rather than imposition.
Authoritarian states and organisations have always seen Christianity as an obstacle to their aims of a society composed of biddable men and women fashioned after the state’s image of the ideal citizen. Thus totalitarian states have sought to reduce the influence of Christianity on society, or even stamp it out altogether. In this respect the West’s woke and progressive movements of today follow other revolutionary movements of both Left and Right which, since the French Revolution, have attempted to destroy Christianity as they tried to remake the world.
There is no grand conspiracy with secret meetings of world leaders, shakers and movers plotting the downfall of Christianity; there doesn’t have to be. Instead the progressives have gained the high ground in the West and there is a general acceptance by the opinion-formers in culture, politics and education that they are on ‘the right side of history’ and need only work steadily to reach their goal eventually. Police, courts, professional organisations and businesses all accept and promulgate the new direction of society. Thus we have a steady stream of legislation finding its way on to the statute books which can be and has been used against Christians who hold by the tenets of their faith.
An instance of the direction in which Western society is moving can be seen in Canada. Under Justin Trudeau there has been a steady erosion of human rights alongside legislation overturning centuries of the Christian understanding of what constitutes a human being and the society in which we live. There have been many cases, large and small, in which the rights of Christians have been eroded.
In 2017 a Presbyterian minister and his wife had to go to court before they were allowed to foster two girls. The reason their initial application was denied? They told the case worker involved that they would not tell the girls that the Easter Bunny was real. In 2018 an Evangelical Christian couple had to get legal help before the Alberta government’s Children’s Services would allow them to adopt. Whilst respecting the law on same-sex marriage and willing to support a child’s exploration of his or her sexuality, the couple were unable to say they would encourage a homosexual lifestyle.
These are just two examples of the attitude of some in the Canadian states. Trifling perhaps, except to the parents involved, but straws in the wind. When low-level functionaries take actions such as this, it is only because they think it is acceptable to their superiors.
In 2018 Trinity Western, an evangelical university in British Columbia, lost its case before Canada’s Supreme Court. The university wished to establish a law school but three Canadian bar associations refused to accredit graduates on the grounds that the university was discriminatory. Students at Trinity Western sign a ‘Community Covenant’ obliging students at this Christian institution to respect the biblical view of human sexuality. This means agreeing to abstain from sexual relations other than heterosexual marriage during their time at the university.
The Supreme Court acknowledged that its ruling against the university violated religious freedom. It argued, however, that this was ‘proportionate and reasonable’ to ensure access to the university for LGBTQ students who might feel unable to sign the Covenant. Thus a Christian university would have been forced by the state to accept something which went against its Christian convictions.
Last year while arguing for a ban on conversion therapy, Canadian Justice Minister David Lametti said: ‘Conversion therapy is premised on a lie, that being homosexual, lesbian, bisexual or trans is wrong and in need of fixing. Not only is that false, it sends a demeaning and a degrading message that undermines the dignity of individuals.’ On the authority of Mr Lametti, God’s Word, the teaching of the universal church over two millennia, and centuries of standard understandings of the human person are dismissed as degrading lies to be dismissed out of hand.
Conversion therapy was banned by a unanimous vote in Canada’s Parliament in December 2021. Underlying this is a direct attack on Christian beliefs about sexuality and gender accompanied by the threat of imprisonment. The ban severely restricts the freedom of consenting adults voluntarily to receive support in relation to sexuality and gender problems. Advertising conversion therapy can result in a two-year prison sentence whilst actually helping someone through prayer or advice earns five years. Under the pretence of wishing to ban certain harmful ‘treatments’ which no one actually practises, the ability of Christians to provide pastoral support to those who wish to receive it has been criminalised.
This year a report endorsed by Canada’s Minister of Defence Anita Anand states that the ‘Defence Team . . . cannot justify hiring representatives of organizations who marginalize certain people or categorically refuse them a position of leadership’. When commenting on chaplaincy the report makes no effort to disguise its hostility toward Abrahamic religions. ‘Some chaplains represent or are affiliated with organized religions whose beliefs are not synonymous with those of a diverse and inclusive workplace. Some of the affiliated religions of these chaplains do not subscribe to an open attitude and the promotion of diversity. For example, some churches’ exclusion of women from their priesthoods violates principles of equality and social justice, as do sexist notions embedded in their religious dogmas. In addition certain faiths have strict tenets requiring conversion of those they deem to be “pagan”, or who belong to polytheistic religions.’
The only type of Christian chaplain acceptable to the Canadian armed forces is one who signs up to progressive ideology and standards rather than the Bible. Traditional Christians of any type, whether Catholic, Orthodox or Reformed, need not apply.
Sadly in Canada, as in the UK, the leadership of the mainstream churches are only too eager to abandon the Bible and go along with the state. They forget what Churchill is credited with saying: ‘An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile – hoping it will eat him last.’
As more and more groups are finding their ‘rights’ are being extended, Christians are finding theirs diminished. Canada is the canary in the coal mine. It is only slightly ahead of the UK.