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Christian Horizons's discrimination case

Background, and
Life Site News article

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Background:

On 2008-APR-25, Life Site News published the following article concerning a decision by the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario against an evangelical Christian charity, Christian Horizons.

The agency runs 180 residential homes in Ontario for mentally challenged adults. The Tribunal's decision involved the charity's employment discrimination against persons on the basis of their "lifestyle." Employees had been required to sign both a statement of evangelical Christian belief and a "Lifestyle and Morality Statement." One employee, Connie Heintz, was raised a Mennonite, and initially agreed with the organizations policy of discriminating against homosexuals. She went through some type of crisis of faith, which may have been related to her realization that she had a bisexual or homosexual orientation. She became involved in a serious and presumably sexually active relationship with a person of the same sex. Her employer suggested that she go through some form of therapy to change her sexual orienation. Connie quit after she found harassment in the workplace intolerable.

This is the second human rights complaint against Christian Horizon involving employee sexual orientation. In 1992 The predecessor to this tribunal, the Human Rights Board of Inquiry, ruled that two women fired by the Christian Horizons for being in common-law relationships be paid $65,000. 1

Life Site News article:

Huge Christian Ministry to Disabled Fined
$23,000 For Rejecting Homosexual Employee

Human Rights ruling also mandates all managers and employees
receive a pro-homosexuality "human rights training program"

By John-Henry Westen

TORONTO, April 25, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) - In what is being described as "another blow to religious liberty" in Canada, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario has ordered a Christian organization to cease using an employment contract which has staff promise they will not engage in "homosexual relationships."  Moreover, the ruling demands that the organization pay $23,000, plus two years wages and benefits to a woman who signed onto the contract and then entered a homosexual relationship and was subsequently dismissed.

In an April 15 ruling, released today, the Tribunal ruled against Christian Horizons, an Evangelical Christian Ministry that provides care and residential services to 1,400 developmentally disabled individuals with over 180 residential homes across Ontario, and 2,500 employees. 

The ruling which was decided by a single adjudicator - Michael Gottheil - ruled further that all managers and employees receive a pro-homosexuality "human rights training program".  Christian Horizons was also ordered to "develop and adopt an anti-discrimination and an anti-harassment policy" and "review of its employment policies, in consultation with the Commission" and report to the Commission on its progress, to ensure that such policies comply with the Code.

The ruling also stated, "No later than six months from the date of this decision, the respondent, Christian Horizons shall submit a report to the Tribunal outlining the steps it proposes to take to ensure that its employment policies are in compliance with the Code".

Connie Heintz, an employee who signed onto the "morality statement" as a condition of employment, promised not to engage in "homosexual relationships", among other anti-[conservative] Christian activities such as "extra-marital sexual relationships (adultery)", "pre-marital sexual relationships (fornication)", "viewing or reading pornographic material" and "lying".

When Heintz entered into a homosexual relationship and her employers came to know of it, she claims she was subject to a poisoned work environment and threatened with loss of her job.  She quit her job in 2000.

Christian Horizons is the largest provider of community living services in the province, funded approximately $75 million annually by the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services.

Commenting on the decision, Barbara Hall, the Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission opined, "This decision is important because it sets out that when faith-based and other organizations move beyond serving the interests of their particular community to serving the general public, the rights of others, including employees, must be respected."

The website of the Evangelical group Equipping Christians for the Public Square, which is run by Pastor Tristan Emmanuel, commented that the ruling marked, "another blow to religious liberty." 2

References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Ont. should consider pulling funding from religious group: critics," Canadian Broadcasting Corp., 2008-APR-27, at: http://www.cbc.ca/
  2. John-Henry Westen, "Huge Christian Ministry to Disabled Fined $23,000 For Rejecting Homosexual Employee. Human Rights ruling also mandates all managers and employees receive a pro-homosexuality "human rights training program," LifeSiteNews, 2008-APR-25, at: http://www.lifesitenews.com/

Site navigation:

Home> Religious info> Basic info> Canada> Discrimination> Chr. Horizons>here

Copyright © 2008 & 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
First posting: 2008-APR-29
Latest update: 2009-FEB-25
Author: B.A. Robinson

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