One of the attractive things about Canada is the freedom we enjoy to follow our consciences and live out our respective ways of
life in a religiously plural and multi-cultural society.
Our diversity means we will disagree.
There are practices or beliefs that, while
legal, some Canadians find objectionable
– trophy hunting, boxing, harvesting the
oil sands, smoking, abortion, spanking,
evangelism and pornography.
Some of the core tenets of my evangel-
ical faith are blasphemy to people of other
faiths. I profoundly disagree with some of
the beliefs and practices of others. This
however is not a barrier to tolerance and
respect, or to collaboration and friendship
– all aspects of loving our neighbours.
A critical feature of a free and democratic society is how we deal with these differences. As Christians we ask: What does
the gospel require of us? How do we express love for our neighbours, seek the
welfare of others, love mercy and do justice, promote peace and heed the Sermon
on the Mount?
As political rhetoric swirls around us,
Canadians are searching for ways through
disagreement. Tolerance and respect are
often mentioned as answers. Certainly
they are principles we can affirm.
People commonly assume tolerance
means basically the same thing as acceptance, but in fact tolerance is more robust.
Acceptance may be the result of indiffer-
ence or the realization there is nothing
you can do, but tolerance sets the bar
higher. We tolerate something by choos-
ing not to try to restrict it even when we
have the ability to do so.
Sometimes voices call us to affirm or
celebrate a practice we disagree with, but
this is not tolerance, since tolerance is
premised on disagreement. To expect affirmation of all differences is inconsistent
with a respect for deep differences.
Sometimes tolerance is inappropriate.
We as a society have decided some activities are contrary to the functioning of a
civil society and the protection of all. The
Criminal Code provides an extensive list of
activities we do not tolerate. A critical
part of what legislatures do is decide what
should or should not be tolerated.
Other institutions and communities
have bodies that similarly decide what is
tolerable. For Christians, good theologizing is critical to discerning what is tolerable and what is not.
The EFC implemented a total
website redesign in January.
Check it out at www.TheEFC.ca.
The new website is structured
around five primary themes:
Sanctity of Life, Religious
Freedom, Church and Mission,
Family and Community, and
Care for the Vulnerable. There’s
also a new three-minute EFC
introductory video at www.
from supporters make these
important updates possible, and
feedback on the site and the
video are welcome – just click the
“contact” button on the site.
A new senior leader
David Guretzki will be the EFC’s
new executive vice-president,
beginning June 1, 2017. He is
currently serving as
dean of the seminary
and professor of
and public life at
and Seminary. He recently served
several years on the EFC’s board
of directors. Bill Winger, current
executive vice-president, will
change his title to vice-president,
operations, and CFO at that time.
Write your MP on
Members of Parliament voted
unanimously Dec. 8 to commission
a study of the social harm caused
by easily accessible, violent and
degrading sexual material online.
Thanks to all the EFC supporters
who used our sample letter to ask
their MP to support this motion.
This crucial study needs to be
done well. Please
view our two-minute
video to see how
you can help at
For practical advice on what
parents and churches can do
already now to reduce the harm
pornography is having on our
society, watch our November
webinar at www.TheEFC.ca/
Call to protect conscience
Will medical professionals
continue to be allowed to express
their conscience? In Ontario they
are now required to provide a
referral for assisted death, even
if it is against their deeply held
beliefs. The EFC has joined calls
to repeal this requirement and to
ensure long-term care facilities
and seniors’ residences are not
required to allow euthanasia
and assisted suicide on their
premises. Ontarians can call or
write their MPP and the Ontario
Minister of Health today. See the
EFC’s sample letter and other
new resources from the Coalition
for HealthCARE and Conscience at
Ministry in a forgetful
How do churches grow in a “Jason
Bourne” culture that struggles
with amnesia? And what do
immigration, young people
moving from city to city, and even
smartphones have to do with it?
Watch the EFC’s January webinar
This webinar features the EFC’s
Director of Research Rick Hiemstra.
News FROM THE EFC
Tolerance and respect
Two key principles that can help us live with our differences
THE GATHERING PLACE
BRUCE J. CLEMENGER