Tuesday, June 07, 2005

CCCB Points out Canada’s non-Liberal Direction in Relation to Marriage:
Is Anybody Listening?

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (“CCCB”) has spoken out about threats to religions and religious believers in a Brief they submitted to the Special Legislative Committee holding hearings on Canada’s forced gay marriage Bill C-38. One says “forced” here, advisedly, because we are a country that likes to believe that its democratic processes are in place even when they are, as in this instance, being abused.

Same-sex marriages are being rammed through Parliament with no responsible analysis of their implications and without answer to the many groups who have expressed alarm about the social implications. The CCCB is just one of many groups voicing concern.

Will anyone in a position of power - - such as PM Martin, lift a finger to give substantial support to alleviate concerns (such as requesting Provincial assurances that Human Rights Acts will expressly protect groups who do not wish to have anything to do with purported marriages of same-sex relationships)? Hardly. It would be nice to be proven wrong on this point.
A summary of the Brief and the full text can be found at: http://www.cccb.ca/PublicStatements.htm?ID=1674

The Bishops note that the proposed law will alter the significance of marriage and, very significantly, notes “…the challenges that are already being posed to the basic freedoms of conscience and religion, as well as to freedom of expression.”

Like many organizations who appeared before the courts and made the same arguments, it is pointed out by the CCCB that introducing purported “same-sex marriages” to the category of marriage is not an addition to the category but an obliteration of the only concept of marriage recognized everywhere as a universal norm - - the essence of marriage as male and female. Under the new legislation the CCCB statement says that “marriage as the most basic of all social institutions becomes meaningless”.

The CCCB statement lists several key points, some of which indicate grave consequences to individual freedoms, and all of which have been the subject of comment in past articles from the Centre for Cultural Renewal:

1. When a society issues arbitrary laws that reject the primacy of natural law, the result is not only the risk of social chaos and disorder but, as the 20th century witnessed, a potential basis for state totalitarianism.

2. Leaders and members of faith groups throughout Canada are already being challenged about their right to teach and preach on marriage and homosexuality in accordance with their conscience and religious beliefs.

3. An organization associated with a faith group has already been summoned before a human rights tribunal because it refused to rent its facilities for the celebration of a marriage incompatible with the religious convictions of that faith.

4. Civil officials who preside at marriages in certain Canadian provinces and territories have already been told that their conscience and religious beliefs are not protected in law, even when officiating at a marriage would be irreconcilable with their personal convictions.

5. The federal government has given no assurance to faith groups that do not accept the proposed redefinition of marriage that they will not be penalized with respect to their charitable status.

Of course, use of the vague term “faith groups” is not helpful to the clarity of the CCCB Statement (they should say what they mean - - religious groups since every group, even soccer teams, have faith of some sort but not all faiths are religious). But I digress.

What is clear is that major groups in Canada are now clanging warning bells big enough to rouse even the sleepiest of Canadian sleepy-heads (and they are legion). Perhaps even some on the Senate and House Committee will wake up and take notice of what kind of country is being erected around them and they are complicit in forming.

There are many who wish to use the redefinition of marriage as a way of attacking male/female marriage and the male/female family and/or the place of religions in society. Doubt this? Then you are have not been paying attention.

Quite apart from a relentless litigation strategy employed against religious groups and individuals of a wide variety of types, the language of “attack” has been used in recent academic literature pushing the same sex marriage agenda.

The questions contained in the full Brief of the CCCB are important ones that all Canadians should have answers for from responsible government. Here they are as presented by the CCCB:

"… What authority does the federal government effectively have for protecting the religious freedom of those persons called upon to perform marriages, since the solemnization of marriages comes under provincial jurisdiction? What does the federal government intend to do to protect freedom of religion, freedom of conscience and freedom of expression for all Canadians? How does it plan to ensure that? "

1. Canadians will not be compelled to act contrary to their conscience and their religious beliefs?

2. Leaders and members of faith groups throughout Canada will be entirely free to teach and preach on marriage and homosexuality in accordance with their conscience and religious beliefs?

3. In addition to sacred places, all facilities belonging to or rented by an organization associated with a faith group will be protected against any obligatory use for marriage ceremonies incompatible with the religious convictions of that faith?

4. All officials, both civil and religious, who preside at marriages in Canadian provinces or territories, will be protected against the obligation to officiate when the conditions are irreconcilable with their conscience and religious beliefs?

5. Faith groups that do not accept the proposed redefinition of marriage will not be penalized with respect to their charitable status?

Religious freedom is not limited to the freedom to perform or to refuse to perform marriages involving same-sex partners. Religious freedom is intrinsically linked to freedom of conscience and freedom of expression. It is not a concern only for religious authorities, but for all citizens who must be able to express their freedoms publicly in daily life.

A number of serious issues are emerging, including the following:

1. What will happen to civil officials refusing to preside at a “gay marriage”?

2. What will happen to preachers expressing the teachings of their religion on marriage and homosexuality if these differ from the new social norm?

3. What will happen to politicians proposing legislation that recognizes the unique contribution heterosexual couples offer to society and supports them in their procreative role?

4. What will happen to teachers who cannot in good conscience present “same-sex marriage” to their students as the equivalent of natural marriage?

5. What will happen to parents who do not accept a school presenting their children with a vision of marriage different than their own?

6. What will happen to authors and publishers who write and publish texts that present a vision of marriage inspired by moral convictions but not in agreement with the new social norm?

The Bishop’s Conference concludes with words that ought to get everyone’s attention; here is what they say in closing.

"Will those who believe in the historical definition of marriage henceforth be victims of discrimination? Should we anticipate lengthy, costly lawsuits in the courts to defend the freedom to teach, preach and educate in accordance with one’s faith and conscience?"

The authors of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms certainly did not foresee such a confrontation between the different basic freedoms of Canadian citizens. They did not intend the Charter to allow such a radical re-engineering of our most fundamental social institutions. It is thus reasonable to believe that it is the current interpretation of the Charter that is distorted.

Iain T. Benson©