Sunday, 29 November -0001 19:00

At Risk: The Freedom of Christians

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The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) is an organization of Canadian evangelical Christians and churches that publishes a quarterly magazine, Faith Today, and periodically sends news bulletins to its members. Your editor is a member of this organization. The latest bulletin alerts Canadian Christians about the curtailment of their legal freedoms. Gary Walsh, EFC president, writes: "On the one hand Canadians live a good life, with conveniences our parents never imagined. On the other hand, almost perceptibly, our freedom to serve Christ and live as he directs is being threatened." He places these freedoms under three categories, and we quote at length (some of these and other items have been highlighted already in previous "NewsNotes" by pastor Bergsma, but are important enough to repeat).

1. AT RISK: The freedom as a Christian to act according to our conscience .
Civil leaders in several Canadian communities have been taken to court because of their stand against what they believe is morally objectionable.

The mayor of London, Ontario is just one example. When she refused to proclaim "Gay Pride Day," the gay and lesbian community filed a complaint and she was brought before the Ontario Human Rights Commission. A Tribunal convicted Mayor Haskitt and the city of London of discrimination against gays and lesbians. They were fined $10,000 and ordered to proclaim a Gay Pride Day.

Nurses in more than one Canadian community who refused to assist in abortions were asked to leave their specialties. These nurses are exercising their right to refuse to participate in an act that compromises their religious belief-the belief that life is sacred and created by God. Their right to freedom of conscience has not been respected. And when they appealed to government authorities, those entrusted by our society to defend their rights have been slow to respond.

2. AT RISK: The freedom of churches, Christian schools and religious organizations to operate within a Christian doctrinal statement and code of ethics.
Christian colleges, universities and organizations across Canada are facing legal battles to maintain hiring practices which require their staff to adhere to Christian doctrine and lifestyle standards.

The day may not be far off when Christian schools and organizations may no longer require that staff they employ be committed to principles of Christian faith and practices.

3. AT RISK: The freedom of Christians to carry out projects with a confessional Christian message without legal restrictions.
Did you know that the CRTC, the regulating force behind the Canadian broadcasting laws, treats religious broadcasters significantly different than all other broadcasters? Why are Christian broadcasters required to carry programs of other faith groups while non-religious broadcasters are not bound by similar restrictions?

Not only do people of faith face restrictions in broadcasting; they are also restricted in Christian schools. Although schools are able to offer a variety of special interest clubs to their students, in some communities Christian and other religious groups are banned from meeting during the school day. They may not have prayer or even a Bible study, even if attendance is voluntary and at lunch time or after school."

If you keep up with the news, you will have read about other cases illustrating the above, both in Canada and in the United States. Christianity is being pushed back from the "public square" and our freedom of religion is at risk. What can we do? Pray for a revival in the church; work while it is day; inform yourself. To become a member of Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, write to Box 3745, Markham, Ontario L3R OY4 (Tel.905 479-5885; membership is $35.00 annually). Join or organize a local Community Impact group sponsored by Focus on the Family, volunteer for a local Pregnancy Centre, support Christian Horizons, and so many Christian organizations which help the needy and try to influence public policy, either nationally or at the state/provincial and local levels.

Christians cannot turn the tide; only the Lord can. Yet He wants us to be salt and light in this world. And, nothing is impossible with God. We have an almighty God Who has turned the tide of oppression before. He is also very gracious and slow to anger. We are to humble ourselves before His judgments and pray and work! See 2 Chronicles 7:14.

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