The EFC & Social Issues

The EFC promotes an evangelical Christian understanding on matters of law and public policy. Through its Centre for Faith and Public Life in Ottawa, it intervenes before government and the courts on issues of concern to Evangelicals, seeking to uphold care for the vulnerable, religious freedom, sanctity of human life, marriage and family, and freedom of conscience. The EFC develops guiding principles for response to these issues in a manner that reflects our Christian citizenship. [MORE]

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Social Issues

The EFC is deeply disappointed with an Ontario court ruling related to Trinity Western University. The province’s law society refuses to accredit TWU’s proposed law school, and the June 29 Ontario Court of Appeal ruling said that refusal is justified. The ruling admitted the refusal violates the religious freedom of TWU and its students in a significant way, but concluded that overriding those freedoms is justified. TWU says it will appeal the decision to the Supreme Court. Read more.

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Uphold Your MP in Prayer
Summer is a great time to meet your federal Member of Parliament. Take a few minutes at a local festival or barbecue to thank them for their hard work. MPs work long hours and make difficult decisions for our country. We need to uphold them in prayer.

Letter to CBC on Term "Fundamentalist"
A June 29 news article at CBC.ca initially described Trinity Western University and its proposed law school as “fundamentalist.” As the EFC prepared a letter of complaint, the CBC revised the word to “evangelical” instead. The EFC sent a letter to CBC to highlight the seriousness of the error and to express appreciation for the self-correction.

Support for Palliative Care Bill
The EFC supports private member’s Bill C-277 on developing a palliative care framework. This bill, introduced by MP Marilyn Gladu (Sarnia Lambton), would require Canada’s health minister to collect data and to identify ways to improve palliative care.

Essential Next Steps on Assisted Suicide
Read an overview of the assisted suicide law’s passage, what it means for Canadians, and next steps. See the EFC’s statement on the passing of Bill C-14 (aussi disponible en français). 

A Case to Watch
Now that euthanasia and assisted suicide are legal, conscience protection for healthcare providers is critical. Physician groups including EFC affiliate the Christian Medical and Dental Society Canada are launching a court challenge of the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons policy that doctors must make referrals for procedures that violate their conscience. Read about the court challenge in The Globe and Mail here.

Listen to EFC on Radio Discussing Need for National Palliative Care Access
Julia Beazley, director of public policy for the EFC, appeared on radio discussing the EFC’s efforts on palliative care. Listen to her presentation in the first 15 minutes of the show.

Lamenting Assisted-Suicide Law
Bill C-14, the assisted suicide and euthanasia law, was passed last Friday. This law establishes who is eligible to request hastened death and some safeguards to govern the practices. The EFC completely opposes euthanasia and assisted suicide, and issued a lament as part of its initial one-page response (aussi disponible en français) to the passing of Bill C-14 into law. Today the EFC released an nine-page overview of the new legislation’s passage, what it does and issues of concern going forward.

Doctors Seek Review on Assisted-Suicide Referrals
Three physician groups in the Coalition for HealthCARE and Conscience, of which the EFC is a part, are seeking an expedited judicial review of an Ontario policy (made by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario) that requires doctors to make effective referrals for procedures that violate their conscience, like physician assisted suicide. Read more.

World Refugee Sunday, June 19 or 26
Join others around the world to commemorate the strength, courage and resilience of those who have suffered under the global refugee crisis. Resources including videos, posters and graphics from Mennonite Central Committee Canada and RefugeeHighway.net are available to help you include this annual event in your worship service June 19 or 26.

More Thank 28,000 Sign Declaration
Thank you to all who signed the Declaration Against Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide. The EFC sent a copy of the declaration with a June 9 letter to the Ministers of Health and Justice, highlighting public support for conscience protection and palliative care, as well as the opposition to hastened death.

Panel on Middle East Crisis
EFC staff were invited to “Confronting a Devolving Situation in the Middle East,” a recent breakfast at the Rideau Club in Ottawa sponsored by the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, Free Thinking Film Society and Macdonald-Laurier Institute. A panel included ISIS expert Michael Weiss (author of Army of Terror) and Juliana Taimoorazy, founder of Iraqi Christian Relief Council, in conversation with journalist Terry Glavin. Discussion included the persecution of minorities and how the Middle East situation poses substantial challenges for Canada’s policymakers.

Critical to Contact Senators
The EFC encourages Canadians to call Senators from their province to ask for two things:

1. For strong, specific conscience protection for health care providers and institutions.
2. To maintain Bill C-14’s restrictions (rather than allowing children and teens or people suffering from psychological illness alone to become eligible for assisted suicide).

If the Senate amends the bill, it will return to the House of Commons. Get details, including tips for contacting government.

TWU Law School Case Appeals
The latest legal battle over a proposed law school at Trinity Western University (an EFC affiliate) is being heard in Ontario this week (June 6-8). The EFC is intervening again jointly with Christian Higher Education Canada to support religious freedom. Please pray for all involved in the hearings, including lawyer Albertos Polizogopoulos. The EFC intervened in a similar case in British Columbia on June 3. These appeal cases will likely result in a final appeal next year to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Most Important Religious Freedom Case Since the Charter
The new June/July issue of Canada Watch, an EFC newsletter, includes an interview with one of the lawyers working with the EFC to ensure fair accreditation of the law school proposed at Trinity Western University. Albertos Polizogopoulos calls it “the most important religious freedom case since the Charter has been implemented.”

Contact Your MP: Limit harm of Assisted Suicide
EFC supporters are encouraged – as soon as possible – to ask their MP to reject Senate amendments that would widen the range of people eligible for assisted suicide and euthanasia. Greater conscience protection is also needed for medical professions and institutions. See our June 10 video update (feel free to share the link with your church!). Learn more about what you can do about assisted dying

Assisted-Suicide Bill: Two Urgent Actions
Bill C-14 is expected to move to the Senate. The House of Commons has added supportive language about conscience protection into the bill, but it still lacks strong, specific support to protect health care providers and institutions. Action 1: Call Senators from your province this week to ask them to include strong, specific conscience protection. Get details, including tips for contacting government, at the EFC’s Urgent Action page. Action 2: Friday, June 3, is the last day to sign the Declaration Against Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide. The declaration opposes euthanasia and assisted suicide, and calls for conscience protection and improved palliative care. Now is your last chance to join your voice with over 28,000 others!

Pornography: A Public Health Crisis
Watch a recording of our May 24 webinar on how we can help our families and communities to resist sexual exploitation. It features Julia Beazley, EFC director of public policy, presenting an overview of the problem of pornography and its connection to human trafficking. Beazley argues porn is not just a moral issue between an individual and God. She also points to a number of hopeful signs for needed social change in this area.

March for Life
EFC staff participated in the annual 2016 March for Life on Parliament Hill on May 12, 2016. RCMP estimated more than 10,000 peaceful protesters marched from Parliament Hill through the streets of downtown Ottawa. Learn more about the three arms of Canada’s prolife movement – political, educational and pastoral – by reading an article in the May/Jun issue of Faith Today.

Add Your Voice on Conscience Protection
The EFC encourages you to contact your MP to ask for strong, specific conscience protection in the proposed assisted-suicide law, Bill C-14. Our Urgent Action page has all the information you need to prepare for this timely and important communication. The EFC supports private member’s Bill C-268 to protect health care providers from being compelled to participate in euthanasia or assisted suicide. You can ask your MP to support Bill C-268 using the EFC’s sample letter of support.

EFC Staff on Parliament Hill
EFC staff attended several committee hearings on Parliament Hill last week, including one on resettling refugees in Canada and another on international religious freedom. Watch an update on refugee sponsorship in Canada from the Minister of Immigration, the Hon. John McCallum, at the start of a two-hour video from May 12. Watch the one-hour briefing with Julia Bicknell on international religious freedom, also from May 12. Julia is the director of World Watch Monitor and a 30-year-veteran of BBC World Service. 

Latest on Assisted-Suicide Law
EFC leaders presented concerns about Bill C-14, the government’s proposal to legalize assisted suicide, on the TV show 100 Huntley Street (12 min. video) and to a Parliamentary committee in writing (four-page PDF) and at a hearing (ten-minute video, jump to start time of 19:43). 

On May 10 The EFC made a written submission to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs.

The EFC is part of a coalition focused on conscience protection (if you watched the 100 Huntley video above you heard that mentioned). The Coalition for HealthCARE and Conscience, founded by the Christian Medical and Dental Society and several other groups, operates www.canadiansforconscience.ca, a website that enables people to write to the federal or respective provincial government.

Videos and More on Assisted-Suicide Law
In a five-minute video interview, the EFC’s Julia Beazley summarized concerns about Bill C-14, the government's proposed new legislation on euthanasia and assisted suicide, for 100 Huntley Street. The EFC also held a joint news conference April 19 with the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, Canadian Council of Imams and representatives from the Salvation Army and Canada’s Jewish communities (see video on CPAC and joint media release). Les deux derniers sont aussi disponibles en français.

Help Protect Life: New Canada Watch
Canada Watch is the EFC’s free bi-monthly newsletter. The new April/May issue is now available. Its four short pages include “You Can Help the EFC Protect Life in Canada” and “The EFC Represents You at Global Gathering.” There’s also a word of thanks from EFC President Bruce J. Clemenger and our regular update from Parliament Hill.

Interfaith Response to Assisted-Suicide Law
The EFC joined other religious leaders to express their shared opposition and concerns regarding proposed legislation on physician-assisted dying. A news conference on Parliament Hill included the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, the EFC, Canadian Council of Imams and representatives from the Salvation Army and Canada's Jewish communities. See their joint media release (aussi disponible en français).

Refugee Crisis: A Global Perspective
How have churches and church leadership responded to the Refugee Crisis? Missio Nexus recently held two webinars on the topic, one focused on Europe and another beyond Europe. The EFC made a presentation in this non-European webinar, as did representatives from the World Evangelical Alliance, Brazil and the United States. Read the EFC’s presentation about Canada’s response to Syrian refugees.

Human Trafficking and Pornography
The EFC’s Julia Beazley made a presentation at Equip Against Human Trafficking, May 1 in Newmarket, Ont. She discussed the impacts of pornography, how it contributes to sexual exploitation and how we can fight it. Consider inviting an EFC speaker for your group or church at theEFC.ca/speakers.

New Resource: Give Your MP the Details
Now on our website: a briefing kit to equip you and your MP to consider the issues of the new assisted-suicide laws being developed. This collection of PDF documents summarizes the EFC’s key concerns and offers relevant testimony from medical professionals and others. It also includes a summary of the EFC’s submission to the parliamentary committee, two informative EFC blog posts and the text of the Declaration Against Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide. You can use the content for background when you contact your MP, or you can share it with your MP or with others who are concerned about the issue.

Office of Religious Freedom
The EFC has released a statement expressing disappointment on the closure of Canada’s Office of Religious Freedom. Aussi disponible en français.

Parliamentary Motion to Study Effects of Violent Porn
The EFC supports a new parliamentary motion to study the negative effect on public health caused by easy access to violent pornography, and has released a sample letter Canadians can send to their MPs about it.

Letter to Justice Minister
The EFC sent a letter last week to Canada's Justice Minister urging the strictest possible safeguards if the government proceeds with legislation allowing euthanasia and assisted suicide. The letter also urges protection for the conscience of medical practitioners and institutions.

Video: Responding to Assisted Suicide Recommendations
The TV show Context With Lorna Dueck has just published a five-minute video of Julia Beazley, the EFC’s director of public policy. She responds to the 21 recommendations that a joint parliamentary committee recently presented to the Liberal government as it sets out to draft the law on medically assisted death. What does it mean for Canadians? Are the vulnerable at risk?  The moderator, Karen Stiller, also wrote a blog post: Why I rushed home and finally called my Member of Parliament.

Digital Booklet Now in Print
The 64-page booklet Euthanasia + Palliative Care: A Guide for Canadians continues to be available for download at theEFC.ca/EuthanasiaPalliativeGuidePDF. But you now have the option of ordering printed copies as well. It makes a great study guide for individuals or small groups. Learn more and order printed copies attheEFC.ca/EuthanasiaPalliativeGuide.

Pray for TWU
The EFC was in court in Nova Scotia, intervening in support of Trinity Western University and its fight to ensure accreditation for its proposed law school. The Nova Scotia Law Society is one of three law societies that have refused to accredit TWU. The lower court in Nova Scotia ruled in favour of TWU. Please pray for the five judges who heard the appeal case, for TWU and for healthy religious freedom in Canada.

Report on Assisted Dying
The Special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying has made some deeply troubling recommendations to Parliament. The committee’s report recommends far more expansive access to assisted death than the Supreme Court decision in Carter required. The committee recommends no requirement for a terminal or physical illness to be eligible for assisted death, that individuals with a psychiatric condition or psychological suffering be eligible without psychiatric assessment, and that euthanasia and assisted suicide be made available to mature minors within three years. Read the EFC’s analysis at theEFC.ca/AssistedDyingReportAnalysis.

Response on Indigenous Rights
The EFC issued a statement in response to Call to Action #48 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Call to Action #48 invites all churches and faith groups in Canada to issue a statement by March 31, 2016 outlining how they will implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a framework for reconciliation.

Improving Palliative Care
EFC staff met with Member of Parliament Charlie Angus about his motion on palliative care. The EFC supports motion M-46, which calls on the federal government to improve the availability of palliative care in Canada in a number of ways, including the implementation of a Pan-Canadian Palliative and End-of-Life Care Strategy. Read more at theEFC.ca/PalliativeCare.

Defending Religious Freedom
EFC President Bruce Clemenger was part of a delegation of religious leaders who met with Rona Ambrose, Leader of the Official Opposition, in advance of the vote on whether the federal government will extend the mandate of the Office of Religious Freedom (ORF). The EFC had encouraged the government to continue the good work of the ORF and its Ambassador Dr. Andrew Bennet in a February letter. The motion to extend the mandate of the ORF was defeated.

Calling Parliament to Protect Vulnerable Persons
The EFC joins disability, health and faith organizations in supporting the Vulnerable Persons Standard. The EFC is completely opposed to euthanasia and assisted suicide, and our staff are working to support the strongest possible protection for vulnerable persons if the government proceeds with permissive legislation against our urging. The Vulnerable Persons Standard calls on Parliament to establish strict safeguards to protect vulnerable people in any legislation allowing physician-assisted death. It was developed by leading Canadian physicians, lawyers, ethicists and representative organizations for people with disabilities and the needs of vulnerable persons.

New EFC Submission on Assisted Suicide
The EFC made a 10-page submission to the Special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying. An excerpt: “We believe the proper response to suffering, and particularly to those who are nearing the end of life, is to respond with care and compassion, and to journey with those who are walking in the shadow of death. On the basis of our beliefs and commitment to the sanctity of human life, we are unequivocally opposed to both assisted suicide and euthanasia.” Read the full submission.

New End-of-Life Resource
Download a brand new EFC booklet to help you and your church better understand what’s at stake with physician-assisted suicide and what’s needed in the area of palliative care. Euthanasia + Palliative Care: A Guide for Canadians includes fresh articles and discussion questions plus a compilation of recent articles from the EFC magazine Faith Today. 

Declaration Against Assisted Suicide
Have you added your name to the 26,000+ Canadians calling our government to protect vulnerable Canadians and improve palliative care? You can do so at euthanasiadeclaration.ca. Help us demonstrate cross-Canada support for limits to euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. This declaration was developed in October by the EFC and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (aussi disponible en français).

EFC Letter About Rev. Hyeon Soo Lim
The EFC wrote to Canada’s minister of foreign affairs regarding Rev. Hyeon Soo Lim, pastor of Light Korean Presbyterian Church in Mississauga, a man in his early 60s who was sentenced to hard labour for life and accused of subversion or “crimes against the state” by the North Korean Supreme Court in December 2015. “We will continue to pray for Canadian government officials as they work diligently to negotiate Rev. Lim’s release, and for Rev. Lim and the Lim family during this difficult time,” says part of the letter.

Letter to Ontario Consultation on Assisted Death
The EFC sent a letter Jan 13, 2016 to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario Consultation on Interim Guidance on Physician-Assisted Death. 

Practical EFC Resources on Helping Refugees
How can your church sponsor refugees and best respond to the largest refugee crisis the world has seen since the Second World War? Visit theEFC.ca/RefugeeResources. There’s a new link to the Dec 2015 EFC webinar – “How Can Your Church Help Refugees?” – in which three Canadian experts address practical questions. There’s also a link to the two-page Faith Today article “How to Help a Refugee Family.” Another link goes to the helpful resources, contacts and potential partners of the Middle East Refugees Resettlement initiative, a group of EFC affiliates established in 2015. A helpful webpage worth sharing!

Letter Against Commercialization of Human Ova
The EFC wrote to the Hon. Jane Philpott, Minister of Health, expressing concern over media reports that donors of human ova are receiving payment above their expenses, contrary to the Assisted Human Reproduction Act. Read the letter at theEFC.ca/EnforcingAHRA.

No Age Limits for Assisted Suicide?
A nationwide government advisory group is making a serious mistake, argues EFC Policy Analyst Julia Beazley at theEFC.ca/blog.

Letter to Government on Prostitution Laws
The EFC asked the federal government to uphold Canada’s new prostitution laws in a Dec. 10 letter to Canada’s justice minister. The letter also calls for a few amendments and policy changes, including “the complete decriminalization of women in prostitution, … making it simple and inexpensive for those who have been exploited to have prostitution-related charges expunged from their criminal record, ... [and] continued and enhanced government investment in exit supports and services.”

Letter Supporting Toronto Christian Event
The EFC wrote a letter Dec. 9 to the board of management of Yonge-Dundas Square, which had denied a permit to a Christian group to hold its annual Christian music festival. “This group shouldn’t be excluded from the public square because of its identity as Christians or because its event includes a public expression of faith. Performing music with lyrics that praise God is not proselytism,” says the letter. The management recently announced it will now allow the festival for 2016.

Refugee Highway Partnership Meets
EFC staff from our Middle East Refugee Resettlement Initiative participated in a Refugee Highway Partnership Summit that took place Nov. 25 in Hamilton, Ont. RHP North America is a Christian network that connects and mobilizes leaders, churches and organizations to effectively engage with refugees. Also, read the news story “Evangelical Churches Stepping up to Refugee Crisis,” a post at Blog.FaithToday.ca

Letter to Justice Minister on Assisted Suicide
The EFC wrote to the Minister of Justice urging her to hold broad, meaningful and nation-wide consultations on assisted suicide, and to request an extension on a Supreme Court February 2016 deadline to make such consultations possible.

Assisted Suicide: EFC at Federal Panel
EFC leaders appeared before the Federal Government’s Expert Panel on Options for a Legislative Response to Carter v. Canada. In the Carter decision handed down last February, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled assisted suicide should be allowed under certain circumstances and gave Parliament one year to amend the Criminal Code. The panel is to report to the Federal Government in November. Back in September, the EFC made a print submission to a similar provincial advisory group.

Letter to Justin Trudeau
The EFC sent a letter to congratulate Canada’s prime minister-designate, the Hon. Justin Trudeau, after the election. It assures him of our prayers and highlights a number of issues such as freedom of religion, refugees, children and youth in government care, poverty, human trafficking, sexual exploitation, euthanasia, palliative care and relations with Indigenous Peoples.

Letter to the Editor on Refugees / Open Letter to Party Leaders
EFC President Bruce J. Clemenger sent a letter to the Ottawa Citizen highlighting how churches have a long history of “welcoming the stranger,” including refugees of other faiths. (See also the EFC’s recent open letter to the leaders of Canada’s federal political parties. “Evangelicals stand ready to not only welcome but also to sponsor refugees,” says the open letter. Both letters highlighted the EFC denominations that signed a statement of intent to demonstrate openness to sponsoring anyone in need, regardless of the refugee’s religious beliefs or affiliation.)

Welcoming Refugees
Don’t miss the guest blog post by Harold Jantz at theEFC.ca/blog in which he argues that Canada has accepted large numbers of refugees at crisis points in the past, and that today we should make room to accept 200,000 more.

Supporting Refugee Resettlement
Months before all the media headlines about a refugee crisis, the EFC was working behind the scenes on a collaborative approach to refugee resettlement. David Hearn, President of the Christian & Missionary Alliance, recently spoke out about the Syrian refugee crisis. He said, “It is in these dark moments of human history that the Church must take a stand and engage in helping the helpless.” The latest post at theEFC.ca/blog offers background. Find out what you and your church can do at theEFC.ca/MiddleEastRefugees.See also a recent article in ChristianWeek.

B.C. Court Case Heard
The EFC intervened in another case about a proposed law school at Trinity Western University, heard August 24 in the Supreme Court of British Columbia. This is the third province where TWU has launched legal challenges against provincial law societies which are objecting to TWU's Community Covenant and refusing to accredit the law school. See theEFC.ca/TWUlaw.

EFC Webinar: Religious Freedom
What does religious freedom mean in today’s Canada? How do we protect it in our changing culture and political landscape? What do churches, pastors and Christian organizations need to know moving ahead? Watch a recorded webinar discussion on freedom in Canada with Bruce J. Clemenger, President of the EFC.

Truth and Reconciliation
EFC President Bruce J. Clemenger and Policy Analyst Julia Beazley attended the closing event meetings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The Commission completed its seven-year task of hearing the testimonies of thousands of Aboriginal people who attended residential schools. The final report of the Commission was released June 2.

Limits of Public Prayer: New Commentary
EFC President Bruce J. Clemenger published a commentary on the Supreme Court of Canada decision in the Saguenay case. The EFC intervened in the case which asks wether there is a place for religious observance in state-sponsored events and gatherings. Read the commentary and see the EFC's other responses at theEFC.ca/Saguenay

Responding to Sex Education Changes in Ontario
When Ontario released its new Physical Education curriculum this spring, which outlines a new sexual education component for the province’s public and Catholic schools, the EFC responded with a webpage of advice, sample letters and other resources at theEFC.ca/OntarioPE2015.

Will Ontario Enforce Prostitution Law?
EFC President Bruce J. Clemenger wrote a letter in December 2014 to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne in response to comments reported in the media suggesting the Government of Ontario might not enforce Canada’s new prostitution laws over concerns about their constitutionality. Defend Dignity, an EFC affiliate, is encouraging Canadians to write our own letters to government on the issue.

Religious Persecution Affects Children
The EFC Religious Liberty Commission released a report detailing the nature and effects of religious persecution on children. This report is part of the EFC’s continuing focus on public policy issues that impact children, whose presence and vulnerability often go unnoticed. Entitled The Overlooked Demographic: A Report on the Impact of Religious Persecution on Children, the 23-page document briefly considers various ways in which children are uniquely affected by religious discrimination and persecution.

Has Your Faith Group Faced Challenges From Your Municipal Government?
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada’s Centre for Faith and Public Life has released Zoned Out: Religious Freedom in the Municipality, an introductory guide to understanding the religious freedoms of faith groups and the engagement process when they face municipal zoning challenges. You can download the report here.

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