Bruce J. Clemenger is president of
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada.
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The judge also said government
or quasi-government bodies such as
law societies cannot coerce private
institutions to conform to the beliefs of others about sexuality and
marriage. He said the Canadian
Charter of Rights and Freedoms
cannot be used as a “tool in the hands
of the state to enforce moral conformity with approved values.” It is
not the role of the government, he
said, “to create a moral melting pot.”
This court decision affirms that
at the heart of a secular society is
the freedom of religious communities to exist and flourish, to
self-define their own character and
ethos. Doing so is a form of religious expression.
This principle of respect for re-
ligious communities is echoed in
the Supreme Court of Canada’s
recent Loyola decision that found
it was wrong for Quebec to require
a Catholic high school to teach
parts of Quebec’s curriculum on
religion and ethics from a secular
The Court said a secular state
“does not – and cannot – interfere
with the beliefs or practices of a
religious group unless they con-
flict with or harm overriding
public interests.” The majority also
said: “A secular state respects reli-
gious differences … does not seek
to extinguish them” and “affirms
and recognizes the religious free-
dom of individuals and their
A secular society, the way the
courts are interpreting it, respects
and accommodates religious differ-
ences. In this understanding, being
secular means being nonsectarian.
It is a way of managing religious
diversity while being guided by
public principles that all can affirm
from their respective set of beliefs.
Government bodies violate their
mandate when they require reli-
gious communities to be them-
selves secular and adopt secular
values. In the cases of TWU and
Loyola, the court found govern-
ment bodies were imposing secu-
larism on Christian institutions.
The EFC intervened in both
these cases, and going forward it
will be important for groups to
continue to be active in the courts
and promote religious freedom,
especially as our society becomes
increasingly secular. In the mean-
time, the recognition of the im-
portant role religious communities
play in the lives of people of faith
is good news. /FT
Larry Wilson says the EFC gives
Christian communities and
individuals opportunity to make
their concerns and voices known.
Over the past few issues, Faith
Today has been introducing
members of the board of directors
of our publisher, The Evangelical
Fellowship of Canada (listed
at www.theEFC.ca/board). We
continue with Larry Wilson,
director of First Nations Alliance
Churches in Canada, a network of
Aboriginal churches associated with
the Christian & Missionary Alliance.
FT: What made you want to sit
on the EFC board?
LW: I was invited to do so and
felt that it would be a great
opportunity to serve God and the
evangelical community at large
by participating in a leadership
role. Also, as an Aboriginal, I
feel First Nations people need
to engage at the leadership
level so our voice can be heard.
Non-Aboriginal people need to
hear our perspective on things,
and need to be encouraged and
challenged by our values.
FT: What’s the most important
thing the EFC is doing these days,
in your opinion?
LW: The EFC’s very existence
has a powerful impact on our
nation and the world. The EFC
gives Christian communities and
individuals opportunity to make
their concerns and voices known
in places where they cannot go.
FT: What’s the biggest challenge
facing Canada right now?
LW: The decline of Judeo-Christian
values caused by greed,
selfishness, and a growing
ignorance and rejection of biblical
truth. Multiculturalism not only
brings people together, but
creates a broader spectrum of
beliefs that are not biblical.
FT: Thank you, Larry. May God
bless you and your ministry. /FT
Meet the EFC Board: Larry Wilson Webinar series launches EFC webinars are short midday
meetings that anyone can connect
to via computer, telephone or
mobile device. Learn about crucial
issues in a short interview with
an expert, then contribute to a
live question-and-answer session.
The EFC’s April webinar featured
EFC President Bruce J. Clemenger
discussing the topic of euthanasia.
National Forum for Leaders in
Christian Higher Education,
May 25–27, Winnipeg
Ontario Prayer Breakfast,
June 3, Toronto
Christian Medical and Dental
Society National Conference,
June 11–14, Calgary
Write Canada, June 11–13, Toronto
In the cases
of TWU and