CNS photo/Philippe Vaillancourt, Presence

Charles Lewis: Religion truly is under mob attack

  • August 26, 2021

A priest friend of mine was recently talking about the current state of affairs as it relates to religious freedom in Canada.

Our society has been turning against religion in a way that is unprecedented for a so-called free country, he concluded.

Twenty years ago I would have thought his views were extreme. But not today — it might even be an understatement.

Examples of anti-Christian bias, especially against orthodox Christians, abound. They come from various sectors, not just government, but government sets the tone for the larger society.

The examples of government hostility over the years are numerous, especially when it comes to ignoring our views on such issues as euthanasia and abortion. But it doesn’t stop there.

You will recall the hideous attack on the Delta Hospice Society’s Irene Thomas Hospice in a Vancouver suburb in the spring.

A Christian group built the facility with private funds. It was a beautiful 10-bed facility for those who wanted to die a natural death in peace and comfort. They did not offer euthanasia. For the local health authority and others that was beyond the pale and so Delta is likely no more. 

Keep in mind that we are always talking about choice. Yet a small facility that offered choice was considered an outlier. Oh … for those who decided they did want euthanasia it was a two-minute wheelchair ride to a hospital that performs euthanasia.

The universities in this country also like to get into the act. When I was at the National Post I wrote about how pro-life clubs were constantly decertified and kicked off of campuses. In one case police arrested students for holding a peaceful protest. These students paid their tuition and fees but were treated horribly. 

Then one of the university regulatory bodies began to write negative reports about Christian universities. The reports were bogus, based on information garnered on websites rather than in interviews with professors and students. It boiled down to the idea that a Christian school could not possibly offer a good education.

One of the worst examples was the attack by three law societies against Trinity Western University’s bid to build a law school. The problem was not lack of academic excellence but a morals code students had to abide by. Only those in a heterosexual relationship were recognized as married.

The school did not discriminate against anyone. All it asked was to respect the school’s beliefs. There was no evidence that graduates of other TWU programs ever showed homophobia in their work. But of course with prejudice proof is not necessary. It comes down to: “You can’t trust those people.”

TWU’s hope for a law school died in 2018.

Two years ago Rafael Zaki was expelled from the University of Manitoba. His crime was to post pro-life and pro-gun rights opinions on Facebook. The total number of posts was a whopping three.

According to a report in the National Post, Zaki is a Coptic Orthodox Christian from Egypt. The school was concerned — see if this sounds familiar — that his views went against the grain of responsible society. The school’s discipline committee said Zaki was booted for “holding conscientious and religious beliefs that abortion is harmful.”

He lost two appeals and was out.

What is truly ironic is that Zaki’s family came to Canada to enjoy freedom of speech and thought. They came to escape repression.

This story may yet have a happy ending. In August the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench quashed the university’s decision. Ken Champagne, the provincial judge, concluded that the university failed to consider Zaki’s Charter rights, said the National Post.

When did universities become the enemies of free speech? What kind of administrators are afraid of differences of opinion? Has an education simply become swallowing only those views progressives deem correct? Is there now just one side to every story?

Thank God for Judge Champagne for upholding the values that not so long ago were considered the norm. Let us hope there are more like him who does not fear the mob.

(Lewis is a Toronto writer and regular contributor to The Register.)

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