taking ”christian” out
of christian ministry
be to restrict its service to other Evangelicals.
Imagine an inner-city mission conducting a religious
test on clients to ensure against serving too many non-Christians. Or a relief organization responding to a famine
asking the hungry to form separate lines to receive food
and prioritizing those who are Evangelicals. What could
be more contrary to the teaching of Jesus!
This ruling would force secularization. The Tribunal is
essentially saying Evangelicals should not be able to join
together to form a community or ministry and serve others
as a corporate act of worship and obedience to God.
Part of the backdrop of this case is the waning public
understanding of religious communities in Canada. A presumption of the Tribunal’s ruling is that the linkage between
faith and practice is not essential to the service provided
by Christian Horizons. Thus it presumes severing the faith
that animates practice from the expression of that faith in
service to others will not undermine the impulse for caring
Ironically, all sociological studies corroborate that those
who regularly attend places of worship are the volunteer
and charitable core of Canadian society. Christian faith in
action does matter – as a group, we are a core component
of Canada’s social capital.
Many Canadians affirm core Christian beliefs and yet differ in their opinions on how these beliefs should be worked
out in actions. There seems to be a growing presumption in
Canadian society that it is unimportant for belief and conduct to be integrated – and that this presumption should be
accepted by all. But it is more consistent with the Canadian
approach to affirm the ability of a religious organization to
preserve its integrity by prescribing lifestyles and conduct that
match the beliefs animating the organization’s mission.
As Christians our task is not only to defend the freedom
of religious organizations but also to help people understand
the integral connection between belief and practice and
bear witness to the blessing of an integrated life that recognizes the Lordship of Christ.
In a culture characterized by self-interest and in which
people separate what they claim to believe from daily life,
being part of a community that strives for an integral expression of belief and conduct is a vital witness. ft
acharacteristic of Christian evangelical ministries is that we serve others regardless of their faith. Canada does well at accommodating religious diversity, historically among various kinds of Roman Catholics and Protestants and more recently among people of many religions.
One key to this success is widespread respect for the freedom
of people of faith to individually and collectively enter the
public square with their religious identities intact. Historically
we have not been required to deny or sever the integral connection of our belief and practices when serving others.
But I write this while attending the Ontario Divisional
Court, where we find ourselves presenting arguments to try
to preserve this connection. Several groups – The Evangelical
Fellowship of Canada, the Canadian Council of Christian
Charities and the Ontario Conference of Catholic Bishops
– are intervening with Christian Horizons to challenge a
problematic Human Rights Tribunal decision.
The Tribunal ruled that if Christian Horizons wants to
serve non-evangelical clients, it must stop requiring its staff
to adhere to an evangelical statement of faith and lifestyle
policy – this for a ministry that has served mentally challenged persons for more than 40 years by providing excellent care and nurture in group home settings.
At one point in its judgment, the Tribunal even advanced a head count approach, suggesting that if the majority of those served by an organization are people of
many faiths, then the organization cannot require its staff
to be of one faith. Under such thinking, the only way for
an organization to preserve its evangelical makeup would
Canadian religious charities that serve the gen-
eral population face a major challenge in the
Ontario case of Heintz v. Christian Horizons
Together for influence, impact and identity
The evangelical Fellowship of Canada is the national association of
evangelicals gathered together for influence, impact and identity in
ministry and public witness. Since 1964 the eFC has provided a
national forum for evangelicals and a constructive voice for biblical
principles in life and society. Visit us at theeFC.ca.
BRUCe J. ClemeNgeR is the president of
The evangelical Fellowship of Canada. read
more columns at theeFC.ca/clemenger.