Thaddeus Baklinski

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Wide-ranging political and religious groups condemn Quebec’s values charter

Thaddeus Baklinski
Thaddeus Baklinski

QUEBEC, September 13, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Parti Quebecois’ charter of values legislation, which proposes "to entrench the religious neutrality of the state and the secular nature of public institutions" in Quebec's Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, is being condemned by all sides of the political spectrum, and by religious leaders across the country.

On Tuesday, Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney responded to statements about the proposed charter from Quebec Democratic Institutions Minister Bernard Drainville, saying "we are very concerned about any proposal that would discriminate unfairly against people based on their religion."

"If it's determined that a prospective law violates the constitutional protections to freedom of religion to which all Canadians are entitled, we will defend those rights vigorously," Kenney told reporters.

NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair, speaking from the NDP's summer caucus retreat in Saskatoon, stated that his party completely rejects Quebec's plans for banning conspicuous religious symbols. He said that workers should not have to choose between their expression of faith and their jobs.

“To be told that a woman working in a daycare centre, because she's wearing a headscarf, will lose her job is to us intolerable in our society," Mulcair said. "There's no expiry date on human rights. It's not a popularity contest, this for us is completely unacceptable and the NDP will be standing up foursquare against this project."

Even at the risk of alienating Quebecers that overwhelmingly voted for the NDP in the last federal election, Mulcair pointed to what he believes is an entrenched discrimination against minorities in Quebec's civil service. 

"What we have today is an attempt to impose state-mandated discrimination against minorities in the Quebec civil service. That for us is an absolute non-starter," he said.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau accused Premier Pauline Marois and the Parti Quebecois of indulging in “divisive identity politics” as a distraction from more pressing economic problems.

"Madame Marois does not speak for all Quebecers when she puts forward an idea of forcing people to choose between their work and their religion, to set out an idea of second-class Quebecers who would not qualify to work in public institutions because of their religion," Trudeau said.

"Quebecers are better than this," Trudeau added, "and Madame Marois is going to find that out the hard way."

James Fitz-Morris of CBC News said that the proposed charter of values legislation is a red herring for Parti Quebecois separation aspirations.

"Is the Parti Québécois government attempting to set itself up for a political win-win?" Fitz-Morris wondered, saying that, win or lose, the separatists would gain ground.

"On the first front: If it is successful in entrenching secularism and religious neutrality in the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, it will set Quebec on a new course quite different from the other provinces. That could make it easier down the road to argue Quebec is so different from the rest of Canada that it should separate," he said.

"If Ottawa were to interfere and block Quebec from proceeding, or defeat the proposed changes in court later, Quebec could argue the rest of Canada is incompatible with what Quebecers want and, therefore, push for separation," he added.

Religious and pro-family leaders across the country have expressed serious concern about the charter of values legislation's impact on religious freedom and human rights.

Montreal's Archbishop denounced the Marois government’s proposed legislation, calling the ban on conspicuous religious symbols worn by public employees a violation of their religious rights.

"I think it is a violation of the right to have a religion, and to be religious. Because it is not only about private religion, private life. It's also about public life," said Archbishop Christian Lépine.

Brian Lilley, senior correspondent for Sun Media on Parliament Hill, called the Parti Quebecois values charter "an outright attack on individual freedom."

Lilley wrote in his blog that while he can understand that support for the proposed legislation is largely due to "a fear and understandable discomfort with Muslim women covering their faces in public," because "the niqab and burka are foreign concepts to Canada and most people do not like them," he said that the PQ government's strategy to deal with the "sense of anxiety Quebecers are feeling regarding the burka and niqab," is taking a "sledgehammer approach to the fundamental rights and freedoms of all Quebecers."

"In Canada, we expect to see the faces of the people we pass on the street, that we meet in stores, doctors’ offices or at our local schools," Lilley observed. "But...when did it become a Canadian or Quebec value to have government bureaucrats set our wardrobe?"

Lilley argued that the PQ government's intention to pass legislation that would limit freedom of religion is "running roughshod" over the rights and freedoms that are guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.

"It is clear the majority of Canadians from coast to coast reject people covering their faces in public," Lilley stated, but added, "We will have to find a way to deal with that growing trend one way or another, but attacking freedom of religion is the wrong way to go about it."

The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) condemned the proposed measure, saying the ban targets some religious groups of Quebec citizens, but not others, and strips the targeted groups of the opportunity to seek or retain employment with provincial and municipal governments, and potentially with private employers, as well.

“Premier Marois and government officials have claimed that such a ban treats all Quebeckers equally, and places them on equal footing, but that is not the case,” said EFC President Bruce Clemenger in a statement. 

“The Charter of Values does not require most Christians to choose between religious observance – the practice requirements of their faith – and government employment as there is nothing distinctive about what we Christians, or secularists for that matter, wear," he said. "The proposal does mean that adherents of those faiths that do require the personal display of symbols or that specific headgear or other clothing be worn are being asked to choose between their religion and being a civil servant.”

“This is not neutral nor an equal treatment of religion” said Clemenger. “Only some religious groups will be impacted and it does not treat religious adherents equally as it imposes the practices of some who do not wear distinctive attire on all.“

The Catholic Civil Rights League said the Quebec government’s plan to introduce the charter of Quebec values is an overkill reaction to existing tensions in the province that would not withstand a constitutional challenge.

"The proposed ban on religious symbols is clearly an issue of religious freedom, and also raises a second question: just how far the state can go in imposing religious conformity on its citizens," said CCRL Executive Director Joanne McGarry in a statement

"The fact that public institutions are expected to be neutral on religious matters does not mean the people working in them are. A sweeping ban on the wearing of religious or cultural symbols would limit employees’ religious freedom, and it would probably also increase the sense of exclusion of minorities and of religious believers," McGarry said.

"In a society that guarantees religious freedom, it is difficult to see how such a sweeping ban could withstand a constitutional challenge," McGarry concluded.

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Lisa Bourne

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Pressure mounts as Catholic Relief Services fails to act on VP in gay ‘marriage’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne
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Rick Estridge, Catholic Relief Services' Vice President of Overseas Finance, is in a same-sex "marriage," public records show. Twitter

BALTIMORE, MD, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Nearly a week after news broke that a Catholic Relief Services vice president had contracted a homosexual “marriage” while also publicly promoting homosexuality on social media in conflict with Church teaching, the US Bishops international relief agency has taken no apparent steps to address the matter and is also not talking.

CRS Vice President of Overseas Finance Rick Estridge entered into a homosexual “marriage” in Maryland the same month in 2013 that he was promoted by CRS to vice president, public records show.

Despite repeated efforts at a response, CRS has not acknowledged LifeSiteNews’ inquiries during the week. And the agency told ChurchMilitant.com Thursday that no action had been taken beyond discussion of the situation and CRS would have no further comment.

"Nothing has changed,” CRS Senior Manager for Communications Tom said. “No further statement will be made."

LifeSiteNews first contacted CRS for a response prior to the April 20 release of the report and did not receive a reply, however Estridge’s Facebook and LinkeIn profiles were then removed just prior to the report’s release.

CRS also did not acknowledge LifeSiteNews’ follow-up inquiry later in the week.

“Having an executive who publicly celebrates a moral abomination shows the ineffectiveness of CRS' Catholic identity training,” Lepanto Institute President Michael Hichborn told LifeSiteNews. “How many others who hate Catholic moral teaching work at CRS?”

CRS did admit it was aware Estridge was in a “same-sex civil marriage” to Catholic News Agency (CNA) Monday afternoon, and confirmed he was VP of Overseas Finance and had been with CRS for 16 years.

“At this point we are in deliberations on this matter,” Price told CNA that day.

ChurchMilitant.com also reported that according to its sources, it was a well-known fact at CRS headquarters in Baltimore that Estridge was in a homosexual “marriage.” 

“There is no way CRS didn't know one of its executives entered into a mock-marriage until we broke the story,” Hichborn said. “The implication is clear; CRS top brass had no problem with having an executive so deliberately flouting Catholic moral teaching.”

“The big question is,” Hichborn continued, “what other morally repugnant matters is CRS comfortable with?”

While the wait continues for the Bishops’ relief organization to address the matter, those behind the report and other critics of prior instances of CRS involvement in programs and groups that violate Church principles continue to call for a thorough and independent review of the agency programs and personnel.

“How long should it take to call an employee into your office, tell him that his behavior is incompatible with the mission of the organization, and ask for his resignation?” asked Population Research Institute President Steven Mosher. “About thirty minutes, I would say.”

“The Catholic identity of CRS is at stake,” Hichborn stated. “If CRS does nothing, then there is no way faithful Catholics can trust the integrity of CRS's programs or desire to make its Catholicity preeminent.” 

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Thousands of marriage activists gathered in D.C. June 19, 2014 for the 2nd March for Marriage. Dustin Siggins / LifeSiteNews.com
The Editors

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Watch the March for Marriage online—only at LifeSiteNews

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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- At noon on Saturday, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and dozens of cosponsors, coalition partners, and speakers will launch the third annual March for Marriage. Thousands of people are expected to take place in this important event to show the support real marriage has among the American people.

As the sole media sponsor of the March, LifeSiteNews is proud to exclusively livestream the March. Click here to see the rally at noon Eastern Time near the U.S. Capitol, and the March to the Supreme Court at 1:00 Eastern Time.

And don't forget to pray that God's Will is done on Tuesday, when the Supreme Court hears arguments about marriage!

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Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben

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Hillary Clinton: ‘Religious beliefs’ against abortion ‘have to be changed’

Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben
By Ben Johnson

NEW YORK CITY, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Speaking to an influential gathering in New York City on Thursday, Hillary Clinton declared that “religious beliefs” that condemn "reproductive rights," “have to be changed.”

“Yes, we've cut the maternal mortality rate in half, but far too many women are still denied critical access to reproductive health,” Hillary told the Women in the World Summit yesterday.

Liberal politicians use “reproductive health” as a blanket term that includes abortion. However, Hillary's reference echoes National Organization for Women (NOW) president Terry O’Neill's op-ed from last May that called abortion “an essential measure to prevent the heartbreak of infant mortality.”

The Democratic presidential hopeful added that governments should throw the power of state coercion behind the effort to redefine traditional religious dogmas.

“Rights have to exist in practice, not just on paper. Laws have to be backed up with resources, and political will,” she said. “Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed.”

The line received rousing applause at the feminist conference, hosted in Manhattan's Lincoln Center by Tina Brown.

She also cited religious-based objections to the HHS mandate, funding Planned Parenthood, and the homosexual and transgender agenda as obstacles that the government must defeat.

“America moves ahead when all women are guaranteed the right to make their own health care choices, not when those choices are taken away by an employer like Hobby Lobby,” she said. The Supreme Court ruled last year that closely held corporations had the right to opt out of the provision of ObamaCare requiring them to provide abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization to employees with no co-pay – a mandate that violates the teachings of the Catholic Church and other Christian bodies.

Clinton lamented that “there are those who offer themselves as leaders...who would defund the country's leading provider of family planning,” Planned Parenthood, “and want to let health insurance companies once again charge women just because of our gender.”

“We move forward when gay and transgender women are embraced...not fired from good jobs because of who they love or who they are,” she added.

It is not the first time the former first lady had said that liberal social policies should displace religious views. In a December 2011 speech in Geneva, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said perhaps the “most challenging issue arises when people cite religious or cultural values as a reason to violate or not to protect the human rights of LGBT citizens.” These objections, she said, are “not unlike the justification offered for violent practices towards women like honor killings, widow burning, or female genital mutilation.”

While opinions on homosexuality are “still evolving,” in time “we came to learn that no [religious] practice or tradition trumps the human rights that belong to all of us.”

Her views, if outside the American political mainstream, have been supported by the United Nations. The UN Population Fund stated in its 2012 annual report that religious objections to abortion-inducing drugs had to be overcome. According to the UNFPA report, “‘duty-bearers’ (governments and others)” have a responsibility to assure that all forms of contraception – including sterilization and abortion-inducing ‘emergency contraception’ – are viewed as acceptable – “But if they are not acceptable for cultural, religious or other reasons, they will not be used.”

Two years later, the United Nations' Committee on the Rights of the Child instructed the Vatican last February that the Catholic Church should amend canon law “relating to abortion with a view to identifying circumstances under which access to abortion services may be permitted.”

At Thursday's speech, Hillary called the legal, state-enforced implementation of feminist politics “the great unfinished business of the 21st century,” which must be accomplished “not just for women but for everyone — and not just in far away countries but right here in the United States.”

“These are not just women's fights. These have to be America's fights and the world's fights,” she said. “There's still much to be done in our own country, much more to be done around the world, but I'm confident and optimistic that if we get to work, we will get it done together.”

American critics called Clinton's suggestion that a nation founded upon freedom of religion begin using state force to change religious practices unprecedented.

“Never before have we seen a presidential candidate be this bold about directly confronting the Catholic Church's teachings on abortion,” said Bill Donohue of the Catholic League.

“In one sense, this shows just how extreme the pro-abortion caucus actually is,” Ed Morrissey writes at HotAir.com. “Running for president on the basis of promising to use the power of government to change 'deep seated cultural codes [and] religious beliefs' might be the most honest progressive slogan in history.”

He hoped that, now that she had called for governments to change religious doctrines, “voters will now see the real Hillary Clinton, the one who dismisses their faith just the same as Obama did, and this time publicly rather than in a private fundraiser.”

Donohue asked Hillary “to take the next step and tell us exactly what she plans to do about delivering on her pledge. Not only would practicing Catholics like to know, so would Evangelicals, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, and all those who value life from conception to natural death.”

You may watch Hillary's speech below.

Her comments on religion begin at approximately 9:00. 

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