Bruce J. Clemenger is president of
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada.
Please pray for our work. You can follow us on
Twitter @theEFC and support us financially at
www.theEFC.ca/donate or toll-free 1-866-302-3362.
This is significant because Evangelicals do not as a rule believe
their faith requires specific attire or
symbols. Some wear crosses, but it
is of personal significance and not
a religious requirement.
Yet we are respectful and supportive of those who have a requirement
such as a head scarf, turban or cap.
We take our faith seriously and have
empathy for others who do likewise.
When we engage in arguments
about whether the Muslim hijab,
the Sikh dastaar, the Jewish kippah
or some other practice is cultural
rather than religious, we should
also remember the Supreme Court
has ruled it inappropriate for the
State to determine whether a religious practice is legitimate.
A branch of the government
should not be deciding matters of
religious doctrine or practice.
Would you want it deciding what
the doctrinal statement of your
church should contain or omit?
The Court did say it can decide
on whether a practice is sincerely
held – that is a matter of evidence.
Another concern is the attitude
that an infrequent or brief infringement might not be a serious violation. This argument, heard occasionally even in court, proposes
that a little pork in the soup on
occasion is not a serious violation
of Jewish or Muslim beliefs, nor
requiring a religious niqab-wearing
woman to show her face in public
only for a minute.
As people of deep religious conviction, we must clearly articulate
that the duration of the violation
does not mitigate the harm. Who
would want lawyers to violate their
oaths or doctors to compromise
their care with the excuse they did
These debates are important
opportunities to talk about religious
freedom. Remember that under the
Charter, no right or freedom is absolute – it can be limited if doing so is
justifiable to preserve a free and
All dialogue on reasonable accommodation must be done respectfully
and with openness to being challenged at the same time as one challenges others. Empathy is important, as is the sense of being heard.
On these issues we must go beyond emotions that arise from
specific practices to argue from
principle. Let’s have the dialogue.
And let’s ensure we conduct ourselves with the respect such a significant discussion requires. /FT
Find out about news stories
like these and more at
Learn how to take action on
the issues you care about at
Visit the EFC on
VP branches out
Facebook and Twitter
for breaking news, great links and
Aileen Van Ginkel, EFC vice-president, ministry services, has
moved to a part-time position
with the EFC. She will continue
to co-ordinate various resourcing
projects for EFC affiliate groups
while taking a part-time role
with a consulting group (www.
where she will offer services
in communal discernment and
Ready to welcome
refugees: open letter
The EFC sent an open letter to
the leaders of Canada’s federal
political parties in September,
in response to the ongoing
crisis in Syria and elsewhere.
“Evangelicals stand ready to not
only welcome, but also to sponsor
refugees,” it says, highlighting in
No right or
– it can be
doing so is
a free and
particular the EFC denominations
that signed a statement of
intent to demonstrate openness
“to sponsoring anyone in need,
regardless of the refugee’s
religious beliefs or affiliation.”
Details at www.theEFC.ca/
Is your congregation
an EFC affiliate?
Congregations that formally
affiliate with the EFC take
a public stand for religious
freedom, collaboration for
ministry effectiveness, and
the importance of bringing
biblical principles to issues
of Canadian law and public
policy. Join hundreds of other
congregations from more than 40
denominations at work “uniting
Evangelicals to bless Canada in
the name of Jesus” by visiting
www.theEFC.ca/affiliate or calling
International Day of Prayer for the
Persecuted Church, worldwide,
G1 Prayer Summit: National House
of Prayer, Ottawa, Nov. 12–14
Top 10 Must Dos for a Dynamic Kids
Ministry, Kitchener, Nov. 14
Celebration of Hope With Will
Graham, Fort McMurray, Nov. 14–15
Conference, Toronto, Nov. 18
Leading a Multi-Site Movement,
Kitchener, Nov. 18
International Adoption Course,
Calgary, Nov. 21
Cross-Cultural Church Planting in
Canada, Toronto, Nov. 27–28
Diaspora Church Planting in
Canada, Toronto, Dec. 4–5
Urbana Missions Conference, St.
Louis, Missouri, Dec. 27–31
Visit www.theEFC.ca/calendar to
find out what else is new or to
publicize your own event.