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 Canadian government’s proposal to legalize assisted-suicide has serious societal implications that need more discussion, according to the EFC’s media release (aussi disponible en français). “We are very concerned because international experience demonstrates that safeguards cannot be completely effective in ensuring there are no wrongful deaths,” says EFC President Bruce J. Clemenger. “Decriminalizing assisted suicide and euthanasia places vulnerable people at risk.” The EFC would prefer to see Parliament reintroduce a ban on euthanasia.

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What's New

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).

Take 20 to Protect Vulnerable Canadians 
It can take less than half an hour for you to make sure your MP knows your views about assisted suicide at this crucial time. Get all the tools you need at theEFC.ca/EuthanasiaUrgentAction.

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 will make a presentation at Equip Against Human Trafficking, May 1 in Newmarket, Ont. She will discuss 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.

Be Equipped to Interact on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide in Canada: Sign up for EFC Webinar on Mar. 31
A parliamentary committee recently submitted its controversial proposals on assisted suicide, including no minimum age requirement or terminal physical illness requirement but requiring doctors and institutions to participate. Join us Mar. 31 to explore the impact the recommendations could have, the responses they have been receiving, and to consider a way forward. Register now at theefc.ca/webinars.

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.

Now is the Time to Contact Your MP, Here's How
Don’t wait for the upcoming webinar to interact with your local Member of Parliament about euthanasia and assisted suicide. You can find all the basics you need to start this crucial conversation at theefc.ca/EuthanasiaUrgentAction. An editorial in the National Post shed light on some of the recommendations made regarding euthanasia and mental illness in Canada, including a call to contact MPs as soon as possible. 

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 19,000+ 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).

Assisted Suicide: Summing Up
The EFC website has a new page summarizing why now is a critical time for Evangelicals to engage their local MP on euthanasia and assisted suicide. It includes the links from the four items mentioned above, all in one permanent place, plus an introduction, issue background summary, link to find your MP's name and contact information, and a link to our analysis of the crucial Carter decision by the Supreme Court. Visit: theEFC.ca/EuthanasiaUrgentAction.

Keep the Office of Religious Freedom
The EFC sent a letter on Feb 1, 2016 to the minister of foreign affairs urging a continuation of “the important work of the Office of Religious Freedom” and expressing strong concern over media accounts indicating that support for the office might not be renewed.

Presentation on Assisted Suicide
The EFC’s Rick Hiemstra spoke at Jubilee Christian Fellowship in Stratford, Ont., recently. An audio recording is available online. Consider inviting an EFC speaker for your group or church at theEFC.ca/speakers.

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.

Clock is Ticking for the Government on Assisted Suicide
The EFC responded immediately to the Jan 15, 2016 news that the government has four months (June 6, 2016) to formulate a legislative response to assisted suicide. See theEFC.ca/CarterExtension.

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.

After the Federal Election
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? 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

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.

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

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

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 a column in Faith Today magazine. Read “Choosing Between Life and Death” at theEFC.ca/ClemengerArticles

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
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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