Christian Ministry to Disabled Drops its Code of Conduct Under Human Rights Tribunal Pressure
By Mark Westen
KITCHENER, Ontario, May 12, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Christian Horizons, the non-profit, Christian charitable organization has dropped its requirement that employees sign their basic morality statement, in compliance with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal’s ruling against them.
The ruling originates from the case of former Christian Horizons (CH) employee, Connie Heintz, who brought a complaint against CH, claiming that she was forced out of her employment (she was not dismissed but chose to resign) after she publicly admitted to being an active lesbian. She had previous signed CH’s code of conduct and worked for them for years prior to ‘discovering’ her homosexuality. The CH "Lifestyle and Morality Statement" asks that its employees refrain from a number of sexual and other unacceptable behaviours including; "homosexual relationships," "extra-marital sexual relationships (adultery)," "pre-marital sexual relationships (fornication)," "viewing or reading pornographic material," "endorsing" alcohol or cigarettes and "lying." (See previous lifesite coverage)
The Ontario Human Rights Tribunal Ordered that CH pay Ms. Heintz two years wages as well as $23, 000 in damages. Furthermore, and of great concern to Canadian Christianity in general, the tribunal ordered that "Christian Horizons cease and desist from using their current pre-employment contract…", that the organization must submit a review of all of its employment practices to the tribunal to ensure adherence to the Ontario Human Rights Code and that all CH employees undergo "human rights" training.
Although CH has launched an appeal in reference to the tribunal’s other rulings, it has agreed to drop its "Lifestyle and Morality Statement." This decision on the part of CH has come as somewhat of a shock to many Christians as it severely impacts the current status of Christian rights in Canada.
Speaking of the Human Rights Tribunal’s decision and of CH’s resulting compliance in dropping their morality statement, Brian Rushfeldt Co-Founder & Executive Director of the Canada Family Action Coalition, stated that this decision brings with it a very "broad public danger" to all Christian groups operating in Canada. As the Tribunal’s decision to demand that CH drop its code of conduct "was justified by the fact that CH provides services to the general public", that same standard "could be used against any Christian school, church or other organization that serves the public." It should be noted that through evangelization activities and even simply through the church’s open invitation to the public to participate in services, it could, and may well be argued that "Christian churches and schools provide services to the public." If this is the case then Christian institutions "would no longer be permitted to uphold Christian values."