My brother Pastor Tim Stephens of Fairview Baptist Church, a fellow TGC Prairies member church here in Calgary, lays out clearly why Christians cannot abide by the Trudeau government’s unconstitutional Canada Summer Jobs attestation requirement:
Calvary Grace Church was informed this AM that its application for Canada Summer Jobs funding would not be considered, as we had crossed out part of the application (sending an explanatory letter) and the federal government’s position is that the application’s required abortion-affirming attestation “cannot be altered or modified.” In response I wrote an email to Minister Patty Hajdu, Prime Minister Trudeau, and the Leader of the Opposition Andrew Scheer.
This letter was emailed to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development, and Labour, asking them directly to remove the Summer Jobs attestation requirement and reconsider their position on abortion. Today is the final day for Summer Jobs applications.
Dear Prime Minister Trudeau and Minister Hajdu,
I write to you directly to ask you to reverse your policy on requiring Summer Jobs program applicants to affirm an attestation expressing “respect” for abortion rights. Although today is the last day for applications, it is not too late to do the right thing.
The Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees equal treatment under the law regardless of religious belief. As an evangelical Christian, I cannot express the wording of the attestation as currently written, and neither can many Christian churches or organizations, including my own church (our letter to Employment & Social Development Canada explaining our inability to sign the attestation can be found here). The word “respect” is vague and could be interpreted to mean applicants are required to refrain from expressing or promoting the belief that abortion is wrong and ought to be opposed—a belief consistently held in the Christian faith for two thousand years. For Bible-believing Christians such as ourselves the attestation requirement functionally serves as an ideological purity test that excludes us (not to mention members of other faiths) who oppose the practice of abortion. While there is no “right” to government funding, where such funding is made available it is a violation of Charter rights to make that funding contingent upon passing a religious test. And the requirement is even more bewildering in light of the fact that while freedom of conscience and religion are enshrined as fundamental freedoms in the Charter, there is, despite your rhetoric, no such defined “right” to abortion in Canada (the Morgentaler decision merely struck down Canada’s abortion restrictions; it did not find a right to abortion).
Canada has a reputation for being open and tolerant, a diverse society that celebrates the presence of different faiths and cultures. This is a persistent theme in your speeches, Mr. Prime Minister. However, this attestation requirement actually undermines the cause of tolerance and diversity. It is intolerant of the millions of Canadians who favour some level of restriction on abortion. It promotes a mere facade of diversity only, one where sincere differences of ideology and belief are not tolerated. I note with alarm that this disregard for diversity of conscience appears to be a characteristic of your Liberal government, as seen in the fact that you no longer permit pro-life members in the Liberal caucus, and that your government successfully forced a pro-life candidate for chairmanship of a parliamentary committee to be withdrawn from consideration simply because of her views on abortion—views shared, again, by millions of Canadians. And for a government that likes to describe itself as “committed to science” in (for instance) the climate debate, it is sheer hypocrisy to ignore the mounting and irrefutable weight of scientific evidence about the humanity of unborn children—such as the fact that they can feel pain at only 20 weeks of gestation, or the fact that at only 8 weeks they can respond to touch.
For Canadians who treasure freedom of conscience, expression, and religion, this policy is intolerable. The opposition seen to your policy across the political spectrum—from the NDP to the Conservative Party, from the Globe and Mail to the National Post and even the Toronto Star—should serve as a warning that you are failing to properly consider the very real threat you are posing to civil liberties in Canada. This is an opportunity to show true leadership. This is a chance to exemplify humility and care for the concerns of those you personally differ with. This is a way to demonstrate that yours is a government for all Canadians, and not merely for your own narrow ideological tribe. I know that if you were to reverse course I would be the first to publicly commend you.
Even more important, if an unborn child is a distinct human life—as both science and the Christian faith agree it is—then your government is guilty of failing to protect countless millions of lives. Of all the “rights” that the government ought to defend, the right to life should be the foremost. Sadly, it appears that you are not content merely to ignore the moral implications of the destruction of millions of lives; you and the government you represent appear determined to stamp out of the public square any debate about the subject.
The redefinition and devaluation of human life for political convenience, and the suppression of alternative points of view, are both hallmarks of totalitarianism. Your government stands on the wrong side of history.
And as a Christian I implore you, for your own sake, to reconsider and turn away from this commitment, for if you do not, one day you will answer to the Triune God for it, who one day will judge the living and the dead: “God is not mocked; whatever one sows, that will he also reap” (Galatians 6:7). As awful as abortion is, there is forgiveness for anyone who turns from evil and trusts in God through Jesus Christ. We invite you and, indeed, we long for you, and all Canadians, to join us finding true joy in the only place it can be found, in following Christ.
Pastor at Calvary Grace Church of Calgary, Alberta
It’s getting harder for Christians to live their faith in Canada’s increasingly hostile legal environment. But our answer must be more prayer, more proclamation, and more churches started and strengthened–showing our culture “a still more excellent way” (1 Cor. 12:31).
If you are (or can be!) in Calgary February 9 & 10, don’t miss Paul Martin preaching at the Calvary Grace Conference! Paul is a gifted preacher; I’ve been blessed to attend a Simeon Trust workshop that he taught at. The theme this year is “Delighting in God.”
Online registration closes Friday–sign up here.
On behalf of Calvary Grace Church, I wrote a response to the Canadian government’s recent requirement that organizations sign an attestation expressing “respect” for abortion and LGBTQ rights as a condition for applying for Canada Summer Jobs funding. We enclosed that letter with our application.
Recently the federal government has added a requirement to the Canada Summer Jobs program, used by many organizations including churches and Christian camps to help fund summer student positions, to state that the organization requesting funding affirms abortion and LGBT rights. In other words, Christian organizations are being forced to take an “ideological purity test” and renounce Christian teaching on the sanctity of life and biblical definitions of sexuality and marriage in order to access federal funding, which is a chilling precedent.
Christian charities and churches in Canada that have accessed Canada Summer Jobs funding in the past, or are considering applying for such funding, need to read this article from Barry Bussey at the Canadian Council for Christian Charities laying out suggested next steps: