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Religious Tolerance logo

Christian Horizons's discrimination case

Comments on the LifeSiteNews article.
Reactions to the tribunal's ruling

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Comments on the LifeSiteNews.com article:

The LifeSiteNews.com article 1 contained a reference to the Ontario Human Rights Commission ordering Christian Horizons to teach their employees "a pro-homosexuality 'human rights training program" This appears to be a misunderstanding.

In reality, the Tribunal ordered that:

"The respondent Christian Horizons shall develop and adopt an anti-discrimination and an anti-harassment policy as well as a human rights training program for all employees and managers [sic] within six months from the date of the decision." 2

That is, Christian Horizons is required to adopt a human rights training program that stresses the legal rights guaranteed to Ontarians of all sexual orientations: heterosexual, bisexual and homosexual. There is nothing in the Tribunal's decision that requires Christian Horizons to teach program that is "pro-homosexuality" i.e. one that would give special status, recognition or privilege to persons with a homosexual orientation.

Reactions to the Tribunal decision:

bulletDon Hutchinson is the General Legal Counsel and director of Law and Public Policy at The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada. In an opinion piece in the National Post -- a conservative Canadian newspaper -- he drew an analogy between Mother Theresa's ministry and Christian Horizons:

"Imagine that Mother Teresa and her Missionaries of Charity had been told that their ministry in the streets of Calcutta was, in essence, not ministry but 'social work.' In order for the sisters to continue in their work, they would no longer be permitted to require that staff members share their beliefs and ministry commitment."

"As bizarre as this may sound, this is essentially what a single adjudicator acting as an Ontario Human Rights Tribunal recently decided in the case of Heintz vs. Christian Horizons." 3

bulletTim Bloedow posted an open letter on the website "No Apologies" -- a program of ECP (Equipping Christians for the Public Square) Centre --  titled "OHRC declares war on Christian Horizons (CH)." He urged Christian Horizons to appeal the decision:

"I pray that God would grant the CH leadership the wisdom and courage you need to make the decision to appeal the outrageous and ruthlessly anti-Christian decision made against CH by the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal."

"The decision against you is just one in a long line of inexcusable decisions by Canadian human rights commissions against Christians and some others."

"These commission processes and decisions make a mockery of the Christian principles of jurisprudence that have helped keep Canada and other Western nations free for so many decades. Secular Humanism is a religion of tyranny not liberty, and it is the source of such public policy as that which leads to the existence of human rights commissions. ... These truly are fascistic, irredeemable laws and public policies. And they need to be resisted vigorously, not just for yourselves and the vital Christian-ethics-based ministry you perform for so many real people, but also for the sake of general freedom and Christian liberty in Canada." 4

bulletThe Canadian Council of Christian Charities (CCCC) noted that Christian Horizons may appeal the decision. If they do, CCCC plans to apply for intervener status in order to represent the interests of Christian ministries who wish to continue hiring discrimination against people with minority sexual orientations. Christian Horizons subsequently did appeal and the CCCC has been granted intervener status.
bulletRev. Royal Hamel, a spokesperson for Campaign Life Evangelical, likened the situation to George Orwell's novel '1984' in which the 'Ministry of Truth' indoctrinated its citizens into believing lies promoted by the state. He said:  "It's 2008 and we've finally reached 1984." 5
bulletPeter Lauwers, a constitutional lawyer said:
"The decision is inconsistent with a proper understanding of freedom of religion under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms -- Canada's constitution. It really challenges social welfare organizations that are run by Christian and other faith groups on the basis of whether they will continue to provide the services they do."
He raised a concern that religious conservatives might not be as willing to donate their time and money to Christian Horizons and similar agencies if the groups stopped discriminating against persons of minority sexual orientations. 6

bulletJoanne McGarry, executive director of the Catholic Civil Rights League issued a statement saying:
"The decision challenges the value of employment and organizational contracts, if a clearly-worded agreement signed voluntarily can so summarily be made non-binding. The employee in this instance signed the undertaking as a member of the denomination, understood its contents, yet wanted it disregarded later." 6

References used:

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

  1. 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/
  2. Michael Gottheil, "Decision," Heintz v. Christian Horizons, Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, 2008 HRTO 22 at: http://www.canlii.org/
  3. Don Hutchinson, "You can't take the mission out of Christian Horizons," National Post, 2008-APR-28, at: http://www.nationalpost.com/
  4. Tim Bloedow, "OHRC declares war on Christian Horizons," No Apologies, 2008-APR-28, at: http://noapologies.ca/
  5. John-Henry Westen, "Ontario Human Rights Tribunal Ruling Denies Christian Ministry's Right to be Christian. Ruling has the Christian community in Canada deeply concerned for religious freedom," LifeSiteNews, 2008-APR-28, at: http://www.lifesitenews.com/
  6. Deborah Gyapong, "Evangelical Christian agency ordered to abandon behaviour code," Canadian Catholic News, undated, at: http://www.catholicregister.org/

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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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