Thaddeus Baklinski

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Thousands of homeschoolers, Christians rally against Alberta Education Act over freedom concerns

Thaddeus Baklinski
Thaddeus Baklinski
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EDMONTON, March 20, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The protest against the inclusion of the Alberta Human Rights Act in Section 16 of the province’s proposed new Education Act (Bill 2) is escalating, with over 2000 attending a peaceful protest at the Alberta Legislature on Monday, March 19.

Paul Faris, president of the Home School Legal Defense Association, attended the protest and told LifeSiteNews that the rally was “a huge success.”

“With at least 2100 people attending, this rally was amongst the largest in Alberta history,” Faris said.

This was the second protest in as many weeks by homeschooling families and other concerned Albertans. The protests were organized by the Alberta Home Education Association (AHEA) to express their grave concern over a stipulation in Section 16 that all instructional materials in schools, including home and private schools, “must reflect the diverse nature and heritage of society in Alberta, promote understanding and respect for others and honour and respect the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Alberta Human Rights Act.”

Faris observed that “it wasn’t just homeschoolers there, but lots of private, Catholic and public schoolers, so it’s becoming a very broad-based movement of parents who are concerned that the government is taking away their freedom in education.”

The focal point of the protest is the possibility that home and private schools that teach the precepts of their faith could be prosecuted by human rights tribunals for “hate crimes” under the Alberta Human Rights Act (AHRA). The AHRA has been used in the past to prosecute conservatives and Christians, most notably pastor Steve Boissoin, who was found “guilty” by a tribunal of “hate speech” against homosexuals after he published a letter to the editor in a local newspaper. That conviction was subsequently overturned by the court system.

Faris remarked that Education Minister Thomas Lukaszuk spoke to the rally, trying to assure parents that their rights would not be infringed by the proposed legislation, but then concluded that the two sides might have to “agree to disagree.”

“A large number of people who are protesting and facing me but yet at the same time believe in exactly the same things that I believe,” Lukaszuk said, then added, “We may end up agreeing or disagreeing on the wording of it, but I am confident that your rights will be protected.”

“It’s ironic,” Faris told LifeSiteNews, “that later in the day Lukaszuk’s office announced that he plans to invite a committee of twenty Alberta parents to get feedback on what people want. It just amazed me. Here are 2100 people who care so much they came to the Legislature on a cold day, and now he’s saying he wants to hear what people think.”

“It’s clear, that when 2100 concerned parents from every form of education care so much about the issue that they come to rally on the steps of the Legislature, if he’s not listening to them then he’s clearly signalling that he really doesn’t care what the people of Alberta think, that he’s going to do what he wants,” Faris said.

An open letter delivered to the government at yesterday’s protest by Alberta Citizens for Diversity in Education (ACDE), which was endorsed by numerous groups, including REAL Women of Canada, states that the signatories are “concerned that the inclusion of the Alberta Human Rights Act in Section 16 could expose any Albertan informed by a religious or cultural perspective on a variety of different doctrinal or cultural issues to prosecution by Alberta Human Rights tribunals. We ask you to confirm the many verbal assurances that this is not the governments intent by amending Bill 2: The Education Act so as to address these concerns.”

The organizers of the protest are demanding that the six words, “and the Alberta Human Rights Act” be removed from the legislation.

“In order for our message to be crystal clear, it is important for us all to present the same message to our government,” AHEA states. “The message is: take 6 words out.”

The Alberta Catholic School Trustees Association has also taken a stand against the new Education Act.

In a letter submitted to the government the trustees state, “If passed, Bill 2 has the potential to seriously effect publicly funded Catholic education in Alberta, Catholic school boards, and Catholic schools, teachers, staff, and students.”

The ACSTA expresses concern about the proposed sharing of facilities and boards with public schools, and states that the Trustees Association “supports Catholic parents as the primary educators of their children and that the new Education Act must reflect this primacy of the home and parents as primary teachers.”

The legislation has passed two readings and is now being debated by the Committee of the Whole before going to third and final reading scheduled for Wednesday, March 21.

Faris indicated that the reference to the Alberta Human Rights Act in Bill 2 must be expunged in today’s Committee of the Whole session if it is to be done by this government. However, with an election call anticipated in the very near future the legislation may be delayed.

“I don’t know how the government can ignore so many voices of concerned parents from right across Alberta. I think they would be foolish to go into an election knowing that there are so many people who care passionately about this issue and who believe their voices are being ignored,” Faris concluded.

Contact Information:

Hon. Thomas Lukaszuk, Education Minister
423 Legislature Building
10800 - 97 Avenue NW
Edmonton, AB
Canada T5K 2B6
Phone: (780) 427-5010
Fax: (780) 427-5018
[email protected]

Premier Alison Redford
Office of the Premier
Room 307, Legislature Building
10800-97 Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta T5K 2B7
Phone: 780-427-2251
E-mail: Use this form.

Contact info for Alberta MLAs.

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Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signs the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben

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Indiana faces backlash as it becomes 20th state to protect religious liberty

Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben
By Ben Johnson

INDIANAPOLIS, IN, March 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On Thursday, Indiana became the 20th state to prevent the government from forcing people of faith to violate their religious beliefs in business or the public square.

Gov. Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SB 101) into law, saying the freedom of religion is a preeminent American value.

“The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion, but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action,” Pence said.

Gov. Pence, a possible dark horse candidate for president in 2016, cited court cases brought by religious organizations and employers, including Catholic universities, against the HHS mandate. “One need look no further than the recent litigation concerning the Affordable Care Act. A private business and our own University of Notre Dame had to file lawsuits challenging provisions that required them to offer insurance coverage in violation of their religious views.”

The new law could also prevent Christian business owners from being compelled to bake a cake or take photographs of a same-sex "marriage" ceremony, if doing so violates their faith. In recent years, business owners have seen an increased level of prosecution for denying such services, despite their religious and moral beliefs.

The state's pro-life organization applauded Pence for his stance. "Indiana's pro-life community is grateful to Gov. Mike Pence for signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law,” said Indiana Right to Life's president and CEO Mike Fichter. “This bill will give pro-lifers a necessary legal recourse if they are pressured to support abortion against their deeply-held religious beliefs.”

“RFRA is an important bill to protect the religious freedom of Hoosiers who believe the right to life comes from God, not government,” he said.

The state RFRA is based on the federal bill introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. The Supreme Court cited the federal law when it ruled that Hobby Lobby had the right to refuse to fund abortion-inducing drugs, if doing so violated its owners' sincerely held religious beliefs.

In signing the measure – similar to the one Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed – Pence and the state of Indiana have faced a torrent of venom from opponents of the bill, who claim it grants a “right to discriminate” and raises the spectre of segregation.

"They've basically said, as long as your religion tells you to, it's OK to discriminate against people," said Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, a national homosexual pressure group.

The Disciples of Christ, a liberal Protestant denomination based in the state capital, has said it will move its 2017 annual convention if the RFRA became state law. The NCAA warned the bill's adoption “might affect future events” in the Hoosier state.

Pence denied such concerns, saying, "This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way I would've vetoed it."

The bill's supporters say that, under the Obama administration, it is Christians who are most likely to suffer discrimination.

"Originally RFRA laws were intended to protect small religious groups from undue burdens on practicing their faith in public life,” said Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. “It was not imagined there would come a day when laws might seek to jail or financially destroy nuns, rabbis or Christian camp counselors who prefer to abstain from the next wave of sexual and gender experimentation. And there's always a next wave.”

The bill's supporters note that it does not end the government's right to coerce people of faith into violating their conscience in every situation. However, it requires that doing so has to serve a compelling government interest and the government must use the least restrictive means possible. “There will be times when a state or federal government can show it has a compelling reason for burdening religious expression – to ensure public safety, for instance,” said Sarah Torre, an expert at the Heritage Foundation. “But Religious Freedom Restoration Acts set a high bar for the government to meet in order to restrict religious freedom.”

Restricting the ability of government to interfere in people's private decisions, especially their religious decisions, is the very purpose of the Constitution, its supporters say.

"Religious freedom is the cornerstone of all liberty for all people,” Tooley said. “Deny or reduce it, and there are no ultimate limits on the state's power to coerce."

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Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting.
Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon

Porn is transforming our men from protectors into predators. Fight back.

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By Jonathon van Maren

Since I’ve gotten involved in anti-pornography work, I’ve met countless men who struggle, fight, or have beaten pornography. Each person seems to deal with the guilt and shame that accompanies porn use in a different way—some deny that it’s “all that bad,” others pretend that they could “stop whenever they want,” many insist that “everyone is doing it,” and most, when pressed, admit to a deep sense of self-loathing.

One worry surfaces often in conversation: What do my past or current struggles with pornography say about me as a man? Can I ever move past this and have a meaningful and fulfilling relationship?

I want to address this question just briefly, since I’ve encountered it so many times.

First, however, I’ve written before how I at times dislike the language of “struggling” with pornography or pornography “addiction,” not because they aren’t accurate but because too often they are used as an excuse rather than an explanation. It is true, many do in fact “struggle” with what can legitimately be considered an addiction, but when this language is used to describe an interminable battle with no end (and I’ve met dozens of men for whom this is the case), then I prefer we use terminology like “fighting my porn habit.” A semantic debate, certainly, but one I think is important. We need to stop struggling with porn and start fighting it.

Secondly, pornography does do devastating things to one’s sense of masculinity. We know this. Pornography enslaves men by the millions, perverting their role as protector and defender of the more vulnerable and turning them into sexual cannibals, consuming those they see on-screen to satisfy their sexual appetites.

What often starts as mere curiosity or an accidental encounter can turn into something that invades the mind and twists even the most basic attractions. I’ve met porn users who can’t believe the types of things they want to watch. They haven’t simply been using porn. Porn has actively reshaped them into something they don’t recognize and don’t like. 

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Porn is this generation’s great assault on masculinity and the role of men in society. It is essential that we win this battle for the sake of society’s survival. Contrary to what the gender-bending and family-morphing progressive elites claim, good husbands and good fathers and good church leaders are necessary for a healthy society. But pornography is destroying marriages, creating distant and disconnected fathers, and, metaphoricaclly castrating men, hindering their ability and desire to make a positive difference in the society around us.

So, with this sobering set of facts in mind let’s return to the question: what do pornography struggles, past and present, say about a man?

The proper way to respond is with everything that is good about masculinity. We have to fight pornography as men have fought countless evils throughout the ages. We need to fight pornography to protect women, and wives, and children, and our society at large. This is how pornography threatens society, by castrating men, and turning them from protectors into predators. Rooting out the evil in our own lives allows us to better fulfill the role we are called to perform in the lives of others. Battling our own demons enables us to battle the wider cultural demons. Every day without porn is another bit of virtue built. Virtue is not something you’re born with. Virtues are habits that you build. And one day without porn is the first step towards the virtue of being porn-free.

Many men ask me if men who have had past porn addictions are cut out for being in a relationship or working in the pro-life movement or in other areas where we are called to protect and defend the weak and vulnerable. And the answer to that is an unequivocal yes. Our society needs men who know what it means to fight battles and win. Our society needs men who can say that they fought porn and they beat porn, because their families and their friends were too important to risk. Our society needs men who rose to the challenge that the evils of their generation threw at them, and became better men as the result. And our society needs men who can help their friends and their sons and those around them fight the plague of pornography and free themselves from it, too—and who can understand better and offer encouragement more relevant than someone who has fought and been freed themselves?

So the answer to men is yes. Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting. Lend them support and encouragement. We cannot change the fact that porn has left an enormous path of destruction in its wake. But we can change the fact that too many people aren’t fighting it. We can change our own involvement. And we can rise to the challenge and face this threat to masculinity with all that is good about masculinity.

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Red Alert!

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By John-Henry Westen

I don’t like having to do this, but we have always found it best to be totally upfront with our readers: our Spring fundraising campaign is now worrying us! 

You see, with just 6 days remaining, we have only raised 30% of our goal, with $125,000 still left to raise. That is a long ways to go yet.

We have no choice but to reach our minimum goal of $175,000 if we are going to be able to continue serving the 5+ million readers who rely on us every month for investigative and groundbreaking news reports on life, faith and family issues.

Every year, LifeSite readership continues to grow by leaps and bounds. This year, we are again experiencing record-breaking interest, with over 6 million people visiting our website last month alone!

This unprecedented growth in turn creates its own demand for increased staff and resources, as we struggle to serve these millions of new readers.

And especially keep this in mind. As many more people read LifeSite, our mission of bringing about cultural change gets boosted. Our ultimate goal has always been to educate and activate the public to take well-informed, needed actions.

Another upside to our huge growth in readers is that it should be that much easier to reach our goal. To put it simply: if each person who read this one email donated whatever they could (even just $10) we would easily surpass our goal! 

Today, I hope you will join the many heroes who keep this ship afloat, and enable us to proclaim the truth through our reporting to tens of millions of people every year!

Your donations to LifeSite cause major things to happen! We see that every day and it is very exciting. Please join with us in making a cultural impact with a donation of ANY AMOUNT right now. 

You can also donate by phone or mail. We would love to hear from you!

Thank you so much for your support. 

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