Peter Baklinski

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‘Open season on Christians now’: Biblical views on homosexuality proscribed in Whatcott ruling

Peter Baklinski
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OTTAWA, Ontario, March 14, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – While some Christian groups around the country have interpreted the recent Supreme Court decision in the Whatcott case as having cast the Bible in a friendly light, one of Canada’s most seasoned freedom fighters begs to differ.

Ezra Levant, known for his prolonged battle with the Human Rights Commissions, slammed the ruling saying that it “now makes the Bible hate speech”. Calling the ruling “100 plus pages of dangerous mush,” Levant said that the country’s lawyers and Human Rights Commissions are “rejoicing” since it means “open season on Christians now.”

“Judge Rothstein [...] just wrote a judgement saying that hating gay sex is tantamount to hating gays, so the Bible, it must follow, is hate speech,” said the lawyer, political activist, and broadcaster for Sun News.

The Supreme Court made it clear in its ruling that Bill Whatcott’s use of the Bible to reach out to homosexuals was problematic.

In one flyer, Whatcott called homosexual acts taught to children “filthy,” contending that children were more interested in playing Ken and Barbie than “learning how wonderful it is for two men to sodomize each other.” The judges took issue with his use of the biblical word “sodomy” since they said it singled out “two men” and was therefore a direct target against a specific group of people. (The flyers can be viewed at the end of the Supreme Court decision). 

In the ruling, the Court first agreed with a lower court that found that “a human rights tribunal or court should exercise care in dealing with arguments to the effect that foundational religious writings violate the Code." 

But then the judges stated, quoting the lower court: “While the courts cannot be drawn into the business of attempting to authoritatively interpret sacred texts such as the Bible, those texts will typically have characteristics which cannot be ignored if they are to be properly assessed in relation to s. 14(1)(b) [the hate-speech section] of the Code.”

The judges make it clear that some Bible passages contain “characteristics” that a competent judge will not “ignore” when that passage is viewed in light of the hate speech section of the Code. 

"While use of the Bible as a credible authority for a hateful proposition has been considered a hallmark of hatred,” the judges stated, “it would only be unusual circumstances and context that could transform a simple reading or publication of a religion’s holy text into what could objectively be viewed as hate speech.” 

Christians who use the Bible as a springboard to promote a Christian vision of sexuality, which includes, among other things, teaching that homosexual acts are sinful, could be accused of promoting hate speech, according to the judges.  

And Christians like Whatcott who say that they love homosexuals with a Christian love while at the same time hating what they do, no longer have a defense. With regards to hate speech, the distinction between ‘sin and sinner’ no longer applies, ruled the Court. 

“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. 

Michael Plaxton, law professor at the University of Saskatchewan, did not miss the implications of this statement for Christians.

“The court goes to great pains to argue that its ruling in Whatcott does not bar religious persons and groups from expressing their views about sexual morality in the public sphere. That may be true in principle, but in practice, I am not so sure,” he wrote in a commentary that appeared in the Globe and Mail.

“For many Christians, the fact that a sexual practice is engaged in by members of the same sex is spiritually and morally significant. Requiring them to frame their arguments against certain sexual practices as though the gender of the participants is irrelevant will tend to distort their views.”

“We should not kid ourselves, either, that this ruling won’t affect the expressive freedom of those too unsophisticated or inarticulate to construct an argument addressing the merits of sexual practices without disparaging those who engage in them,” Plaxton wrote.

Commentator Jonathan Kay, while being pro-gay, saw the ruling as a blatant case of “anti-Christian censorship”.

“Whatcott can’t be considered a win for free-speech champions — especially religious conservatives,” he wrote in a commentary for the National Post. 

“And there is no sugar-coating the fact that — despite its claim to be ‘balancing’ the rights of all concerned — the Court effectively has privileged the protection of gay Canadians over the right of religious Christians to promote what they view as the established, Biblical take on homosexuality.” 

As Gwen Landolt of REAL Women of Canada pointed out, the Supreme Court has “picked up ‘sexual orientation’ and slammed ‘religious freedom’ with it, and given it a big wallop as with a baseball bat.”

Levant sees the ruling as the beginning of the end of religious rights for Canadians of every faith tradition.

“I think that in the future, this law will be used not just to go after Christians, but [to go after] Muslim radicals [and] to censor Jews,” said Levant on his show.

“Look, this ruling is un-Canadian, it’s unfree, it’s incoherent, it’s contrary to the court’s good trend towards freedom till now. It’s anti-Christian. It’s going to cause nuisance lawsuits to bloom. But perhaps, most of all, it’s just pitiful,” he said. 

Prominent journalist Andrew Coyne agreed: “If we accept the bedrock premise of a free society, that government is its servant and not its master, then it is up to the state, always, to ask the citizens’ permission before it intrudes on their liberty, and to prove its necessity: it is never the citizen’s obligation to show why he may remain unmolested. That spirit is lamentably absent from the Court’s reasoning,” he wrote in a commentary for the National Post. 

From the viewpoint of Christians, it is people who identify themselves as ‘homosexual’ have lost the most. Many Christians, chilled by the fear of legal action, may no longer preach against, or offer counsel to help people out of the homosexual lifestyle, which has been well documented to lead to substantial physical, emotional, and spiritual harm. 

Others though will not be deterred, seeing it as their sacred duty to bring the Good News to others even when it is deemed illegal to do so, as it was in the early days of Christianity. For his part, Bill Whatcott has, since the ruling, continued to hand out flyers

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