Peter Baklinski

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Supreme Court muzzles free speech in Canada, rules against Christian pro-family activist

Peter Baklinski
Peter Baklinski

OTTAWA, Ontario, 27 February, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Canada’s top court has released a unanimous decision today that critics say has struck a monumental blow against freedom of speech, opinion, and religion across the country. The court ordered the defendant, a Christian pro-family activist with a reputation for intense activism, not only to pay a fine, but also to pay court costs which could amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“It’s a bad day,” said Bill Whatcott to LifeSiteNews.com in an interview. “The ruling and the reasoning [behind it] is terrible. They actually used the concept that truth is not a defense.”

“It’s worse than I expected. What it means is that my life is over, as I know it. It means that the Christian Church is going to be libel for speaking the truth,” he said.

In Saskatchewan (Human Rights Commission) v. Whatcott, the Supreme Court decided that born-again Christian William Whatcott was guilty of hate speech for distributing flyers to neighborhoods in Saskatoon and Regina in 2001 and 2002. While the flyers used vehement language against homosexual practices and the homosexual agenda, they did not directly attack homosexual persons. (The flyers are appended to the end of the decision linked above)

The Court focused on Whatcott’s main argument, namely that he loves homosexuals with a brotherly Christian love, and it is only their sexual activity that he denounces.

But the Supreme Court found that with regards to hate speech, the distinction between ‘sin and sinner’ no longer applies.

“I agree that sexual orientation and sexual behaviour can be differentiated for certain purposes,” the Court stated. “However, in instances where hate speech is directed toward behaviour in an effort to mask the true target, the vulnerable group, this distinction should not serve to avoid s. 14(1)(b) [the hate-crime clause of the Code].”

“Courts have recognized a strong connection between sexual orientation and sexual conduct and where the conduct targeted by speech is a crucial aspect of the identity of a vulnerable group, attacks on this conduct stand as proxy for attacks on the group itself,” the Court stated.

The Court ordered Whatcott to pay the Human Rights Commission’s legal fees and to pay $7,500 in compensation to two homosexuals who were offended by his flyers.

Gwen Landolt, national vice-president of REAL Women of Canada, called the ruling “very depressing” and “bad news”.

Landolt accused the Supreme Court of “dancing on hot coals, one foot here and one foot there, trying to pretend that they’re doing one thing, but doing another.”

“On the one hand they’re saying, ‘Oh, no, no, no, we’re not really infringing on freedom of religion and freedom of speech and freedom of opinion’, but in fact, what they say is not what they’ve done,” she said in an interview with LifeSiteNews.com.

“In effect, what they’ve done is they’ve hit-out at religious beliefs and promoted again, as is constantly happening, homosexual rights.”

“They’ve picked up ‘sexual orientation’ and slammed ‘religious freedom’ with it and given it a big wallop as with a baseball bat,” she said.

Landolt said that the Court has damaged freedom of religion by “manipulating and twisting” the whole intent of this freedom “to serve their own objective which is to protect homosexuals.”

She said that Christians had better take the ruling as a “warning sign” that they are going to be “pounced on” if they decide to speak about Christian sexual morality in the public square.

The Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL) said it is concerned over the Court’s equating homosexual activity with homosexual persons.

“A key teaching of Christianity is to hate the sin, but love the sinner,” said CCRL president Phil Horgan, pointing out that as a society, “we incarcerate convicted persons for their crimes, not out of hate for the individual.”

“But with Whatcott, the SCC has stated that criticism of behaviour(s) can be treated as potentially hateful speech against the minority. Will criticism of activities at gay pride parades be treated similarly? Will criticism of certain homosexual sexual activities be now conflated as an example of hate speech of an individual or minority? This conflation of behaviour with the person or group, is a proposition at odds with most religious teachings, and of concern coming from our highest court.”

Chris Schafer, Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF) executive director and lawyer, said that the “Supreme Court missed an excellent opportunity to rein in the power of various human rights commissions and tribunals to censor the expression of unpopular beliefs and opinions.”

“Free expression is the lifeblood of democracies and all forms of expression, especially the offensive kind, needs to be protected. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court disagrees,” he said.

André Schutten, legal counsel for the Association for Reformed Political Action (ARPA), said he was disappointed with the ruling since the Court decided to “keep as constitutional” the ambiguous hate-crimes language of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code, which prohibits any representation “that exposes or tends to expose to hatred” persons on the basis of a prohibited ground.

Schutten told LifeSiteNews.com that upholding such language is “problematic” since “hatred is an emotion that cannot be easily and objectively measured.”

Schutten said that the ruling means that Christians will now be “less likely to engage in political debate from their viewpoint, which means that Christians are kept out of the political process”. He said that the ruling will also hamper Christians in preaching the “full Gospel”.

“The preaching of the Gospel requires that we know what the Good News is. And the Good News is that we’re saved. But in order to understand that we are saved, we have to know what we are saved from. So, when we are preaching the Gospel, that includes preaching about sin. And sin is always going to be offensive to some people. When we talk about sin, some people will interpret that as hateful.”

Schutten said that the ruling “puts a chill on religious expression and any expression.”

Ezra Levant from Sun News has predicted that the ruling will inundate Human Rights Commissions with hate-speech based complaints.

“You will see a boom in the Human Rights Commission business because the law is so vague and the Supreme Court is saying: ‘Yeah, you can go after someone if they say something hateful’. We are going to see an explosion of hate-speech complaints out there,” he said.

Whatcott agrees. He told LifeSiteNews.com that the ruling will embolden homosexual activists to file complaints against those who raise a voice against sexual anarchy.

Despite the ruling, Whatcott said that he will continue to “publicly witness against homosexuality” since he sees it has “God’s will” in his life. The Christian activist is soliciting prayers from people of faith so that he will receive the spiritual support needed to get through this time.

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PBS defends decision to air pro-abortion documentary ‘After Tiller’

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By Dustin Siggins

Under pressure for showing the pro-abortion documentary "After Tiller" on Labor Day, PBS' "POV" affiliate has defended the decision in response to an inquiry from LifeSiteNews.

The producers of the film say their goal with the documentary, which tells the stories of four late-term abortion doctors after the killing of infamous late-term abortionist George Tiller, is to "change public perception of third-trimester abortion providers by building a movement dedicated to supporting their right to work with a special focus on maintaining their safety.” 

POV told LifeSiteNews, "We do believe that 'After Tiller' adds another dimension to an issue that is being debated widely." Asked if POV will show a pro-life documentary, the organization said that it "does not have any other films currently scheduled on this issue. POV received almost 1000 film submissions each year through our annual call for entries and we welcome the opportunity to consider films with a range of points of view."

When asked whether POV was concerned about alienating its viewership -- since PBS received millions in federal tax dollars in 2012 and half of Americans identify as pro-life -- POV said, "The filmmakers would like the film to add to the discussion around these issues. Abortion is already a legal procedure."

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"This is an issue that people feel passionately about and will have a passionate response to. We are hopeful that the majority of people can see it for what it is, another lens on a very difficult issue." 

In addition to the documentary, POV has written materials for community leaders and teachers to share. A cursory examination of the 29-page document, which is available publicly, appears to include links to outside sources that defend Roe v. Wade, an examination of the constitutional right to privacy, and "a good explanation of the link between abortion law and the right to privacy," among other information.

Likewise, seven clips recommended for student viewing -- grades 11 and beyond -- include scenes where couples choose abortion because the children are disabled. Another shows pro-life advocates outside a doctor's child's school, and a third is described as showing "why [one of the film's doctors] chose to offer abortion services and includes descriptions of what can happen when abortion is illegal or unavailable, including stories of women who injured themselves when they tried to terminate their own pregnancies and children who were abused because they were unwanted."

Another clip "includes footage of protesters, as well as news coverage of a hearing in the Nebraska State Legislature in which abortion opponents make reference to the idea that a fetus feels pain." The clip's description fails to note that it is a scientifically proven fact that unborn children can feel pain.

The documentary is set to air on PBS at 10 p.m. Eastern on Labor Day.

Kirsten Andersen contributed to this article.

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Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete

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He defended ‘real’ marriage, and then was beheaded for it

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By Pete Baklinski

A Christian man was executed during the night by a high-profile ruler after making an uncompromising defense of real marriage.

The Christian, who was renowned for his holiness, had told the ruler in public that his relationship with his partner was “against the law” of God. The Christian’s words enraged the ruler’s partner who successfully plotted to have him permanently silenced.

John the Baptist was first imprisoned before he was beheaded. The Catholic Church honors him today, August 29, as a martyr and saint.

While John’s death happened a little less than 2,000 years ago, his heroic stance for real marriage is more pertinent today than ever before.

According to the Gospel of Mark, the ruler Herod had ‘married’ his brother’s wife Herodias. When John told Herod with complete frankness, “It is against the law for you to have your brother’s wife,” Herodias became “furious” with him to the point of wanting him killed for his intolerance, bullying, and hate-speech.

Herodias found her opportunity to silence John by having her daughter please Herod during a dance at a party. Herod offered the girl anything she wanted. The daughter turned to her mother for advice, and Herodias said to ask for John’s head on a platter.

Those who fight for real marriage today can learn three important lessons from John’s example.

  1. Those proudly living in ungodly and unnatural relationships — often referred to in today’s sociopolitical sphere as ‘marriage’ — will despise those who tell them what they are doing is wrong. Real marriage defenders must expect opposition to their message from the highest levels.
  2. Despite facing opposition, John was not afraid to defend God’s plan for marriage in the public square, even holding a secular ruler accountable to this plan. John, following the third book of the Hebrew Bible (Leviticus 20:21), held that a man marrying the wife of his brother was an act of “impurity” and therefore abhorrent to God. Real marriage defenders must boldly proclaim today that God is the author of marriage, an institution he created to be a life-long union between one man and one woman from which children arise and in which they are best nurtured. Marriage can be nothing more, nothing less.
  3. John did not compromise on the truth of marriage as revealed by God, even to the point of suffering imprisonment and death for his unpopular position. Real marriage defenders must never compromise on the truth of marriage, even if the government, corporate North America, and the entire secular education system says otherwise. They must learn to recognize the new “Herodias” of today who despises those raising a voice against her lifestyle. They must stand their ground no matter what may come, no matter what the cost.

John the Baptist was not intolerant or a bigot, he simply lived the word of God without compromise, speaking the word of truth when it was needed, knowing that God’s way is always the best way. Were John alive today, he would be at the forefront of the grassroots movement opposing the social and political agenda to remake marriage in the image of man.

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

If he were alive today he might speak simple but eloquent words such as, “It is against God’s law for two men or two women to be together as a husband and wife in marriage. Marriage can only be between a man and a woman.” 

He would most likely be hated. He would be ridiculed. He would surely have the human rights tribunals throwing the book at him. But he would be speaking the truth and have God as his ally. 

The time may not be far off when those who defend real marriage, like John, will be presented with the choice of following Caesar or making the ultimate sacrifice. May God grant his faithful the grace to persevere in whatever might come. St. John the Baptist, pray for us!

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The Wunderlich family Mike Donnelly / Home School Legal Defence Association
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German homeschoolers regain custody of children, vow to stay and fight for freedom

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

One year to the day since a team of 20 social workers, police officers, and special agents stormed a homeschooling family’s residence near Darmstadt, Germany, and forcibly removed all four of the family’s children, aged 7 to 14, a state appeals court has returned custody of the children to their parents.

The reason given for the removal was that parents Dirk and Petra Wunderlich continued to homeschool their children in defiance of a German ban on home education.

The children were returned three weeks after being taken, following an international outcry spearheaded by the Home School Legal Defense Association.

However, a lower court imposed the condition on the parents that their children were required to attend state schools in order for them to be released, and took legal custody of the children in order to prevent the family from leaving the country.

In a decision that was still highly critical of the parents and of homeschooling, the appeals court decided that the action of the lower court in putting the children in the custody of the state was “disproportional” and ordered complete custody returned to the parents, according to a statement by the HSLDA.

The Wunderlichs, who began homeschooling again when the court signaled it would rule this way, said they were very pleased with the result, but noted that the court’s harsh words about homeschooling indicated that their battle was far from over.

“We have won custody and we are glad about that,” Dirk said.

“The court said that taking our children away was not proportionate—only because the authorities should apply very high fines and criminal prosecution instead. But this decision upholds the absurd idea that homeschooling is child endangerment and an abuse of parental authority.”

The Wunderlichs are now free to emigrate to another country where homeschooling is legal, if they choose, but they said they intend to remain in Germany and work for educational freedom.

“While we no longer fear that our children will be taken away as long as we are living in Hessen, it can still happen to other people in Germany,” Dirk said. “Now we fear crushing fines up to $75,000 and jail. This should not be tolerated in a civilized country.”

Petra Wunderlich said, "We could not do this without the help of HSLDA,” but cautioned that, “No family can fight the powerful German state—it is too much, too expensive."

"If it were not for HSLDA and their support, I am afraid our children would still be in state custody. We are so grateful and thank all homeschoolers who have helped us by helping HSLDA.”

HSLDA’s Director for Global Outreach, Michael Donnelly, said he welcomed the ruling but was concerned about the court’s troubling language.

“We welcome this ruling that overturns what was an outrageous abuse of judicial power,” he said.

“The lower court decision to take away legal custody of the children essentially imprisoned the Wunderlich family in Germany. But this decision does not go far enough. The court has only grudgingly given back custody and has further signaled to local authorities that they should still go after the Wunderlichs with criminal charges or fines.”

Donnelly pointed out that such behavior in a democratic country is problematic.

“Imprisonment and fines for homeschooling are outside the bounds of what free societies that respect fundamental human rights should tolerate,” he explained.

“Freedom and fundamental human rights norms demand respect for parental decision making in education. Germany’s state and national policies that permit banning home education must be changed.

"Such policies from a leading European democracy not only threaten the rights of tens of thousands of German families but establish a dangerous example that other countries may be tempted to follow,” Donnelly warned.

HSLDA Chairman Michael Farris said that acting on behalf of the Wunderlichs was an important stand for freedom.

“The Wunderlichs are a good and decent family whose basic human rights were violated and are still threatened,” Farris said.

“Their fight is our fight," Farris stressed, "and we will continue to support those who stand against German policy banning homeschooling that violates international legal norms. Free people cannot tolerate such oppression and we will do whatever we can to fight for families like the Wunderlichs both here in the United States and abroad. We must stand up to this kind of persecution where it occurs or we risk seeing own freedom weakened.”

Visit the HSLDA website dedicated to helping the Wunderlich family and other German homeschoolers here.

Contact the German embassy in the U.S. here.

Contact the German embassy in Canada here.

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