HOW TO HELP THOSE WHO ARE SUFFERING: VIDEO
Now that physician-assisted death is legal, Christians have yet one more reason to reach out with hope and comfort and come alongside those who are suffering. JEFC webinar on Sept. 28 explored how we can help, and learn from, those who are hurting. We were joined by Doug Koop, a spiritual health practitioner and writer from Winnipeg, and by David Guretzki, a theology professor and seminary dean at Briercrest College & Seminary in Caronport, Sask. Watch a recording of last week’s webinar.
SUMMIT ON ENDING SEXUAL EXPLOITATION
EFC director of public policy Julia Beazley, along with partners from Defend Dignity, attended the third annual CESE Summit in Houston, Texas. The summit, put on by the National Centre on Sexual Exploitation in Washington, DC, is an international gathering of leaders in the work to end all forms of sexual exploitation. Beazley reports that the multi-disciplinary nature of this event, including people from therapists to policy people to law enforcement to leaders from a variety of religions, is very encouraging.
DALIT FREEDOM NETWORK
Several EFC staff members attended a Dalit Freedom Network Canada event in Ottawa. The Dalits are people born into families in the lowest rung of India’s rigid social system. Over 250 million men, women and children – that’s seven times the population of Canada – face extreme prejudice, abuse and oppression every day. Dalit Freedom Network is committed to helping to bring hope and empower the Dalit people by providing education, healthcare and vocational training.
HELP REDUCE THE DAMAGE PORNOGRAPHY IS CAUSING
Online porn fuels sexual exploitation and contributes to sexual violence against girls and young women, according to a new EFC submission to the Standing Committee on the Status of Women. The submission asks Parliament to study the public health effects of internet porn and to consider age verification for porn sites, as is being considered in the U.K. We’ve created an EFC videoclip and blog post you can share with your church and your friends to raise these important issues more widely. The video and blog offer quick summaries of the issues and point to TheEFC.ca/PornographyResources, where those interested in going deeper can read our new four-page submission “Internet Pornography and Violence Against Young Women and Girls in Canada.”
DISCUSSION ON ASSISTED SUICIDE, RECONCILIATION
EFC President Bruce Clemenger attended the Plenary Assembly of Catholic Bishops. Several church leaders from different Christian traditions are invited to attend each year. The agenda includes a discussion of euthanasia and assisted suicide, and responses to the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
CAN’T DOCTORS HAVE CONSCIENCES?
An ethicist at Queen’s University writes that doctors should not have the right to conscientious objection, as reported in the National Post. The Ontario government is supporting policies that require doctors to participate in procedures against their deeply-held beliefs. Long-term care facilities and seniors’ residences may be required to allow euthanasia and assisted suicide on their premises. The EFC has created a sample letter you can use to write or call your MPP and the Ontario Minister of Health on these issues of conscience protection.
THANKS TO FEDERAL GOVERNMENT ON GARRATT RELEASE
The EFC today wrote to the federal government to commend it for persistence in securing freedom for Kevin Garratt, detained in China since 2014, and for defending the core Canadian principle of freedom of religion.
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM: WHY SHOULD WE CARE?
The loss of religious freedom for any faith group means a loss of religious freedom for every other faith group in Canada, writes EFC President Bruce Clemenger in a recent letter to supporters. The letter explains why the EFC is preparing to intervene in the Ktunaxa case at the Supreme Court. Read it online.
Will Medical Professionals Really be Required to Kill?
In most places around the world where assisted suicide or euthanasia are legal, medical professionals are not required to participate. Yet there is strong resistance to providing this basic conscience protection in Canada. Why? EFC President Bruce J. Clemenger considers the issue in the Jul/Aug issue of Faith Today, Canada’s Christian magazine. Read his column.
Pray for Religious Freedom
Pray for the British Columbia Court of Appeal deliberations in the legal battle over Trinity Western University’s proposed law school. The EFC intervened with Christian Higher Education Canada to support religious freedom. This important case was heard in June and a decision is expected shortly.
How to Help a Suffering Person: A Practical Webinar
Do you ever feel like there’s suffering people all around you but you don’t know how to help? Learn practical steps from Christian experts at a free EFC webinar on Wed., Sept. 28. With physician-assisted death now a reality in Canada, Christians need to step up even more to offer hope to those with chronic illness or other hurts. Our guests will include Doug Koop, a spiritual health practitioner in Winnipeg, and David Guretzki of Briercrest College & Seminary in Caronport, Sask. Register now!
Interview with a Palliative-Care Doctor
The Aug/Sept issue of the EFC newsletter Canada Watch features an interview about assisted suicide and palliative care with Dr. Michael Koke of Kitchener, Ont. He says a good death can be beautiful, but he has major concerns about Canada’s legalization of physician-assisted suicide and the need for education about palliative care. Download this free, four-page PDF and you can also get quick updates about the Trinity Western University law school case, a word from President Bruce J. Clemenger and our regular update from Parliament Hill.
Nova Scotia Appeal Favourable to Trintiy Western
The EFC is welcoming the July 26, 2016 Nova Scotia Court of Appeal decision. The appeal court agreed with the lower court ruling that the Nova Scotia Barristers' Society does not have the statutory authority to reject Trinity Western University’s proposed law school based on the university’s Community Covenant. See the EFC media release.
Conscience Rights of Health Care Providers
The EFC sent a letter to the Ontario Ministry of Health asking them to ensure alternative options for physicians who have a conscientious objection to making an effective referral for medical assistance in dying.
Stronger Response on Refugee Crisis
How can churches worldwide continue to make a unified and relevant response to the global refugee crisis? EFC staff are attending global strategy meetings this week in Niagara Falls, Ont., between the World Evangelical Alliance and the Refugee Highway Partnership to discuss these issues. Churches have a unique role in welcoming newcomers by providing community, emotional support, faith and partnership in helping our new neighbours discover their “new normal.”
Stronger Connections Around Medical Ethics
EFC President Bruce Clemenger attended a symposium titled Medical Ethics in an Age of Medically Assisted Dying and Reproductive Decisions. It was presented by the deVeber Institute for Bioethics and Social Research and held at Tyndale University.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.