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 B.C. Court of Appeal announced a favourable decision in the legal battle over Trinity Western University's proposed law school. The EFC continues to intervene in these cases with Christian Higher Education Canada to support religious freedom. For more updates, visit TheEFC.ca/TWUlaw.

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What's New

The EFC and other faith groups have renewed their call for high-quality palliative care. Last week they sent an interfaith letter of support for MP Marilyn Gladu’s bill that would commit government to create a palliative care framework (aussi disponible en français). You can also write to your MP asking them to support Bill C-277 using our sample letter.

What is the price of the widespread use of pornography to our society – especially on the developing brains of our young people? What can churches do? Register now at TheEFC.ca/Webinars to join us us on Nov. 23 as we tackle these questions with Julia Beazley, the EFC’s director of public policy, and Glendyne Gerrard, director of Defend Dignity.

Please encourage your MP to attend a special Parliament Hill presentation next week (Nov. 29) on the public health impacts of pornography. You can use these talking points provided by the EFC to call or email your MP to encourage them to hear Cordelia Anderson, founder of the US National Coalition to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse & Exploitation. Anderson is being hosted by the EFC and Defend Dignity.

A vote is expected in the next few weeks on whether to ask the parliamentary health committee to study the impact of easily accessible, violent and degrading sexual images online. Support is growing across party lines for MP Arnold Viersen’s motion M-47, and the motion has a chance of passing in the House of Commons. The EFC offers a sample letter you can use to ask your MP to support this motion.

The EFC wrote to the Minister of Foreign Affairs to encourage the Canadian government’s efforts to secure the swift release of Rev. Hyeon Soo Lim, particularly in light of his worsening health. Rev. Lim, a 61-year-old pastor of the Light Korean Presbyterian Church in Mississauga, Ont., travelled to North Korea for humanitarian reasons and was arrested in February 2015 for “hate crimes against the state.” He was sentenced to hard labour in December 2015. Recently, he was hospitalized because of his poor health.

Get free resources to observe this annual event, held this year on Nov. 13, at www.idop.ca. The event is co-ordinated by IDOP Canada, a partnership of ministries which raises awareness and encourages prayer for those who are suffering for their faith in Jesus Christ. Spread the news about this event using the EFC’s latest blog posting, Who will you be praying for on November 13? Also, the FaithToday blog, Why it's so important to pray for the persecuted church

The EFC is raising awareness of the public health impacts of pornography, bringing in an academic expert for events and meetings on Parliament Hill in November. These events, co-hosted with Defend Dignity, will educate about pornography’s impact on sexual, emotional, psychological and relational health. The first event, Nov. 28, features Cordelia Anderson, founder of the US National Coalition to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse & Exploitation. Details at TheEFC.ca/Calendar and DefendDignity.ca.

The EFC’s Julia Beazley will making a public presentation at an event examining human trafficking, prostitution and pornography. “Think You Know Moncton? Guess Again” will be held Nov. 9 at Crandall University. Other speakers include Cal Maskery of Harvest House Ministries and Pamela MacLeod of TREY (Trauma Relief for Exploited Youth). Details at TheEFC.ca/calendar. Invite an EFC speaker to your school, church or other group.

With enough public support, the Ontario government may take steps to protect conscience rights for doctors and other medical professionals. Ontarians can call or write their MPP and the Ontario Minister of Health today. See the EFC’s sample letter and three new resources from the Coalition for HealthCARE and Conscience (Fact Sheet PDF and two docx files, Sample Pulpit Presentation and Bulletin Text).

Last week’s webinar is now available to watch online at TheEFC.ca/WebinarArchives. Why should Christians care about the religious freedom of other religions? Bruce Clemenger, President of the EFC, took questions and explained the Ktunaxa Nation case.

Should Christian leaders endorse American presidential candidates or other politicians? EFC President Bruce J. Clemenger reflects at TheEFC.ca/Blog

At the recent United Nations Summit for Refugees and Migrants in New York City, many participants applauded Canada's response to the Syrian refugee crisis. Evangelical churches in Canada are playing a central role in Canada's globally celebrated response to the Syrian refugee crisis. Read the more in this blog.

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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).

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 at theEFC.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.

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.

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 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.)

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.

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.

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