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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What's New

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.

Euthanasia Declaration: ADD YOUR SIGNATURE
The joint statement on euthanasia and assisted suicide has been upgraded with a new add-your-signature function. This 900-word declaration, released by the EFC and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, says “any action intended to end human life is morally and ethically wrong” and calls our new federal government to improve palliative care. So far it has about 300 signatures.

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.

Day for Prayer for the Persecuted
Get free Canadian resources to observe the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. Join thousands worldwide in a day of prayer on a Sunday in November. These resources are also useful for continued prayer on this issue anytime. The EFC is part of a group of ministries that creates these free resources each year.

Letter to Justin Trudeau
The EFC recently sent a letter to congratulate Canada’s prime minister-designate, the Hon. Justin Trudeau. 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.

Federal Election Results
Now that voting is over, are you ready to engage with your new MP? Why not write them (and all the candidates who ran in your riding) a thank you note for the personal sacrifices they have made to engage in the political process on your behalf? In the days and weeks ahead, you might also want to remind your MP of important issues such as those found in the 2015 EFC Election Kit, available in either French or English at theEFC.ca/election.

Wisdom on Difficult Issues
Julia Beazley, the EFC’s policy analyst, was keynote speaker at Pornified Culture: Haunted Selves and Hindered Society, a conference at Providence University College, Otterburne, Man. And Rick Hiemstra, the EFC’s director of research, made a presentation at Morrow Gospel Church in Winnipeg about recent studies of Canadian Bible usage and of the participation of youth in Canadian churches. Details on these presentations at theEFC.ca/calendar. Consider an EFC speaker for your group or church at theEFC.ca/speakers

Addressing Pornography
Pornified Culture: Haunted Selves and Hindered Society on Oct. 27 conference at Providence University College, Otterburne, Man. The EFC’s policy analyst Julia Beazley was the keynote speaker. Details at theEFC.ca/calendar.

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.)

New Resources: Day of Prayer for The Persecuted
The 2015 Canadian website for the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church has been launched! Join thousands of Canadians on November 8 in a global day of prayer for Christians suffering persecution for their faith. The website offers free resources that equip churches and groups with a variety of options for participation.

EFC Election Kit Updated
The 2015 EFC Election Kit now includes a new fact sheet on Indigenous Peoples. Also includes: understanding elections; guidelines for church engagement in elections; hosting an all candidates’ meeting; and fact sheets on the environment, family, palliative care, poverty, prostitution, refugees, religious freedom, reproductive technologies, abortion and euthanasia. Aussi disponible en français.

Election 2015: Key Issues, Church Participation
What are the key issues we should be talking about with the politicians knocking on our doors? Can a church hold an all-candidates’ debate? What can we do to improve the tone and agenda of the election campaign? Here are two great resources to help reflect on these questions: "Someone is looking for your vote” by EFC President Bruce Clemenger in the latest issue of Faith Today and the EFC’s free 2015 Election Kit at theEFC.ca/election. Maintenant disponible en français / Now also available in French!

Submission on Physician-Assisted Death
The EFC has made a submission to a national advisory group on physician-assisted dying. Read the EFC’s stakeholder submission, a 31-page PDF. It was sent to the Canadian Provincial/Territorial Expert Advisory Group, which exists to help develop laws, policies, practices and safeguards in advance of physician-assisted dying becoming legal in Canada.

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. 

Remember the "Boat People"?
A number of Canadian denominations, including many EFC affiliates, are responding to the refugee crisis in the Middle East, which some are comparing in importance to the late 1970s era of welcoming “boat people” from Southeast Asia. More details on how to join this initiative and the EFC’s support for it 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.

Ontario Court Decision on TWU Law School
In a recent post, EFC President Bruce J. Clemenger reflects on a disappointing court decision in Ontario. Trinity Western University, an EFC affiliate, has said it will appeal this decision, which affirmed an Ontario law society could refuse to accredit graduates of TWU's proposed law school. See theEFC.ca/TWUlaw.

EFC Webinar: Religious Freedom
On June 11 EFC hosted a Webinar discussion on freedom in Canada with Bruce J. Clemenger, President of the EFC. 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? Attendees were able to ask their own questions during this live, interactive discussion.

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. Some events will be broadcast online at www.trc.ca.

The Importance of Showing Up
The June/July issue of Canada Watch is now available at theEFC.ca/CanadaWatch. It includes an interview with EFC lawyer Geoffrey Trotter on "The Importance of Showing Up" and a helpful article on "What You Need to Know About Praying in Public and the Saguenay Case," plus much more, all in four short pages.

Helping Refugees From the Middle East
Leaders of several EFC affiliates, facilitated by the EFC, are engaged in a response to the refugee crisis currently taking place in the Middle East, particularly Syria and Iraq. This new Middle East Refugees Resettlement Initiative, offers settlement assistance to some of the 10,000 displaced persons that Canada has promised to welcome by 2015. Find out how your congregation can participate.  

A “Seismic Shift” on Euthanasia
The changes in progress to Canada’s euthanasia laws are like an earthquake, says ethicist Margaret Somerville in the latest Faith Today magazine. Preview the issue at FaithToday.ca/digital

EFC President at Legal Symposium
EFC President Bruce J. Clemenger participated in a legal symposium on the topic “Religion: A Public & Social Good.” The symposium was sponsored by the Canadian Council of Christian Charities, an affiliate of the EFC. 

Limits of Public Prayer: New Commentary
EFC President Bruce J. Clemenger published a commentary on the recent 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

Court Decision: Limits of Prayer
Two recent media interviews on the Saguenay court decision with EFC President Bruce J. Clemenger are now available at theEFC.ca/Saguenay. The EFC intervened in this Supreme Court of Canada case which asked whether there is a place for religious observance in state-sponsored events. 

Is Life Still Sacred in Canada?
How can we promote the sanctity of human life after the Supreme Court decision on assisted suicide? EFC President Bruce J. Clemenger addresses this issue in his latest column in Faith Today magazine. Read “Choosing Between Life and Death” at theEFC.ca/ClemengerArticles

Euthanasia Webinar Recording Available
The audio from the webinar on euthanasia and palliative care is now available at theEFC.ca/WebinarArchive. Listen to hear EFC President Bruce J. Clemenger discuss pending changes to Canada’s euthanasia laws and the role of Christians in this challenging situation. He also responds to several audience questions.

Court Considers Limits of Public Prayer
The Supreme Court of Canada recently released its decision in the Saguenay case. The EFC intervened in the case which asks whether there is a place for religious observance in state-sponsored events and gatherings. The EFC’s responses are at theEFC.ca/Saguenay, including a new link to a recent interview on the decision with EFC President Bruce J. Clemenger.

Doctors Losing Freedom of Conscience?
The EFC wrote to the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Saskatchewan regarding its Draft Policy on Conscientious Refusal. The EFC expressed concern over the proposed requirement that doctors provide referrals, and in some situations undertake procedures, that might violate their conscience and/or religious beliefs. Compelling doctors to act against their conscience would be a violation of their Charter rights and freedoms, argues the EFC. Doctors who don’t offer certain procedures are not discriminating as long as all patients are treated the same.

The EFC previously wrote a letter about a similar draft policy in Ontario. However, the Council of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) approved its new Professional Obligations and Human Rights policy on March 6. It “requires physicians to provide their patients with an effective referral to another health-care provider for those services the physician chooses not to provide for reasons of conscience or religion.”

Responding to Sex Education Changes in Ontario
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 has now published a webpage of advice, sample letters and other resources on this issue at theEFC.ca/OntarioPE2015.

Responding to Assisted-Death Decision
The Supreme Court’s decision on February 6 in the Carter case takes us into a Canada where the sanctity of human life is no longer fully supported in our laws, says EFC President Bruce J. Clemenger. Instead, our society and our law will affirm some cases of assisted suicide and euthanasia. He reflects on these issues in a commentary posted today at theEFC.ca/Carter. That webpage also includes links to a new EFC letter to the Minister of Justice urging the government to respond quickly to the decision, and links to Clemenger’s recent TV appearances responding to the court decision. There's also a commentary by Geoffrey Trotter, the lawyer who represented the EFC in the Carter euthanasia case. In “The Court Has Allowed Physician-assisted Death – What Next?” he examines two critical undercurrents which drove the Supreme Court of Canada’s Feb. 6 decision. He also considers the question of Parliament’s response.

Assisted Suicide: Government Response Needed
The EFC wrote to Canada's Minister of Justice about the need to regulate assisted suicide. "We urge you to ensure the practices of assisted suicide and euthanasia are only permissible within very strict parameters so as to minimally impair Canada's commitment to the sanctity of human life and to protect the lives of vulnerable Canadians." Read the full letter at theEFC.ca/CarterLetter2015.

Nova Scotia Court Decision on TWU: “Great Day for Religious Freedom”
A Nova Scotia court made a very positive decision about the proposed Trinity Western University school of law. The decision agrees with several arguments the EFC put forward in its legal intervention. Read brief responses from EFC lawyer Albertos Polizogopoulos and EFC President Bruce Clemenger at theEFC.ca/TWUlaw. TWU is an EFC affiliate.

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 (EFC) 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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