Here’s the first part of the story from LifeSite News http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/apr/08042905.html
TORONTO, April 29, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The ruling by the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal to force a Christian ministry to the disabled to stop requiring staff to live up to Christian moral standards as a condition of employment threatens the existence of all faith-based charities in Canada. (For more coverage, see: http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/apr/08042512.html) In light of the recent decision, LifeSiteNews.com spoke with the provincial government ministry in charge of such matters and found they showed little willingness or desire to accommodate sincere Christianity in the public sphere.
Raj Dihr, the prosecutor for the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal in the case, explained to LifeSiteNews.com that the Christian ministry in question – Christian Horizons – was not permitted an exemption under the human rights code which would permit it to hire only Christian staff who were willing to live according to fundamental Christian moral precepts. The reason, he explained, was two-fold. First, he said, the organization was serving the general public, and not restricting its services to Evangelical Christians, and secondly, in the opinion of the Tribunal (a single adjudicator by the name of Michael Gottheil) adherence to the tenets of Christianity as set out by the Evangelical group was not seen as necessary in fulfilling their services to the public.
Of course, from the perspective of the ministry their whole raison d’être was ministering to the disabled as Christians. Christian Horizons (CH) describes itself as “an evangelical ministry seeking to reach out with Christian love to people with disabilities.” Forbidding them to require staff to be Christian would thus effectively end their ministry.
Since CH is the largest provider of community living services in the province, providing care and residential services to 1,400 developmentally disabled individuals with over 180 residential homes across Ontario, (not to mention emplyoing 2,300 individuals) the ending of its ministry would present no small problem for the provincial government, which provides $75 million annually to CH for its services. That reality, however, seems not to have dawned on the provincial government.
Here’s an editorial from Canada’s National Newspaper, The National Post.
Lorne Gunter on Christian Horizons and Ontario’s thought police
Posted: April 28, 2008, 7:55 AM
Christian Horizons is an evangelical organization with a mission to people with developmental disabilities. It is also the largest operator of special-needs residential homes in Ontario. Under a $75-million annual contract with the provincial government, it runs 180 group homes for 1,400 residents and employs 2,500 staff.
Now Christian Horizons (CH) has also run afoul of the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC).
In a ruling, released last week, that once again proves rights tribunals are little more than politically correct thought police, the OHRC declared CH was wrong to make its employees sign a morality pledge as a condition of employment.
The ruling stems from a complaint brought by Connie Heintz. Ms. Heintz willingly signed CH’s employee code when she joined the organization. She then worked for CH for several years before discovering she was a lesbian. Since homosexuality was one of the proscribed behaviours, CH forced her out when it found out about her new orientation in 2000.
The organization’s morality pledge did not single out gays and lesbians. It made all employees promise to refrain from a host of sexual and personal behaviours CH believes are prohibited for Christians, including “homosexual relationships,” “extra-marital sexual relationships (adultery),” “pre-marital sexual relationships (fornication),” “viewing or reading pornographic material,” “endorsing” alcohol or cigarettes and “lying.”
Boasting that its ruling “has a significant impact for faith-based organizations that provide services to the general public,” the OHRC ordered Horizons to pay Ms. Heintz two years’ wages and benefits, plus $23,000 in compensatory damages.
Further, the commission gave CH six months to “develop and adopt an anti-discrimination and an anti-harassment policy” that complies with Ontario’s human rights legislation. Under supervision by the commission, the group must conduct a “review of its employment policies” and demonstrate to the OHRC’s satisfaction that its hiring practices comply with Ontario’s human rights code.
In short, the OHRC ruled that the state’s morality code must trump CH’s.
Worse yet, all CH managers and employees must undergo a “human rights training program,” which, of course, is a euphemism for government-approved, state indoctrination aimed at re-educating unacceptable beliefs out of employees’ heads.
To some extent, I accept that when Christian or other belief-driven organizations become subcontractors for government policy, they cannot object to the state imposing its morality on their operation. He who pays the piper calls the tune.
Barbara Hall, the Chief Commissioner of the OHRC, is not entirely wrong, then, when she says “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.”
It’s insulting to suggest CH does not respect rights when it is operating within its private sphere, but point taken: When CH became an agent of state policy it lost its ability to resist state morality.
It’s clear, though, from the commission-ordered sensitivity training that goes along with the employment ruling that the OHRC is interested in far more than merely assuring an Ontario government contractee is in compliance with provincial government employment standards. It also wants to stamp out political views at variance with those favoured by the Commission.
And that’s dangerous, very dangerous.
The Ontario government may make Christian Horizons operate its group homes as it wishes, after all, the government is paying the freight. What it may not do, ever, is demand that CH and its employees think as the government wishes.
Yet I have no doubt the OHRC’s ruling would have been exactly the same if CH had been running its residential homes completely privately having raised its entire annual budget without any help from taxpayers. After all, in 1999 the OHRC forced Toronto Christian printer Scott Brockie to do print jobs for gay and lesbian customers even though his print business was private and not under any contract with Queen’s Park to provide print services.
H.L. Mencken once said “The objection to Puritans is not that they try to make us think as they do, but that they try to make us do as they think.” Modern human rights commissions — the neo-Puritans — desire both, that we think as they do and do as they think.