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Canadian Courts Approve Suspension of Teacher who Criticized Homosexuality in Letter to Editor

LifeSiteNews.com

VANCOUVER, BC, June 14, 2005 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A ruling handed down yesterday by British Columbia’s highest court has upheld the British Columbia College of Teachers’ (BCCT) decision to temporarily suspend the teaching license of Chris Kempling for writing allegedly discriminatory letters to the editor of a local publication.

In 2001, while off duty, Mr. Kempling entered as a practicing Christian into the burgeoning political and social debate surrounding homosexuality and gay ‘marriage’. He defended the traditional Christian understanding of the social, physical, and moral evils of homosexual behaviour in a local newspaper. Kempling was subsequently cited for professional misconduct by the College of Teachers after a panel determined that his writings were discriminatory against homosexuals. He was disciplined with a temporary suspension of his license.

Mr. Kempling fought the ruling and took the case to the Supreme Court, which upheld the school board decision.

The current ruling marks the second time that Kempling has appealed that decision of the Supreme Court, citing violations of the freedom of religion and expression clauses of the Charter.

Lifesitenews.com spoke with Phil Horgan, president of the Catholic Civil Rights League (CCRL), who has been actively taking part in the case. Mr. Horgan expressed concern that the current ruling centered around the supposition that by writing as he did Kempling had in some way damaged the British Columbia school system. The ruling states that Kempling’s statements “undermined the core value of non-discrimination by denying homosexual students an education environment accepting of them.”

And yet, Horgan points out, “on the contrary, there was no evidence of students who had been harmed by anything that Mr. Kempling had written.”

One difficulty with this particluar case, Horgan explained, was that Kempling had failed to show up for an initial hearing with the school-board and was therefore unable to lay an evidentiary basis for his rights under the religious freedom section (2a) of the Charter. Despite repeated attempts by the CCRL to introduce religious-rights evidence into the proceedings, the court has frustrated such attempts by refusing to hear any new evidence.

This stubborn unwillingness of the courts to cooperate with Kempling’s arguments for freedom of religion, however, makes little difference in the disturbing outcome of the most recent appeal.

Mr. Horgan explains that the most distressing aspect of the ruling is that “the court seemed to have a very difficult time distinguishing between the sin and the sinner”. In other words”, he expanded, “Mr. Kempling was commenting quite broadly on the potential and actual problems of homosexual conduct, and the court seemed to admonish Mr. Kempling without drawing any distinction between what I presume Mr. Kempling would understand as the distinction between a person’s conduct and their inherent human dignity.” This failure or inability to distinguish between the two essentially forbids any intelligent or non-discriminatory input into what is a current and vital social debate.

“The timing is instructive for folks who have concerns about the impact of Bill C-38, generally,” said Horgan. “It’s virtually impossible to allow government passage of this type of legislation and not expect serious, serious problems in the area of conscience and religious rights. You cannot engage in the affirmation of homosexual marriage without it creating a whole level of future difficulties when it comes time for public discussion of such issues, with or without the church context.”

Supporters of the traditional definition of marriage are pointing to this ruling as yet further evidence that freedom of expression is being swiftly eroded by the Federal Government’s attempt to ram through the same-sex marriage bill. Although the bill has not become federal law, and although the bill has been and is increasingly subject to intense popular opposition, many pro-gay activists are hiding behind provincial legislation to justify prosecuting and quashing the outspoken arguments of individuals who publicly oppose or call into question their agenda. An increasing number of similarly disturbing cases, most notably the prosecution of Roman Catholic Bishop Henry of Calgary, are cropping up around the country.

The next step for Kempling, should he choose to take it, said Horgan, would be to take his case before the Supreme Court of Canada. Mr. Kempling was unavailable for comment.

  See the decision online here:
http://www.courts.gov.bc.ca/Jdb-txt/CA/05/03/2005BCCA0327.htm 

JJ

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