Bob Unruh joined WND in 2006 after nearly three decades with the Associated Press, as well as several Upper Midwest newspapers, where he covered everything from legislative battles and sports to tornadoes and homicidal survivalists. He is also a photographer whose scenic work has been used commercially.More ↓Less ↑
A priest is being investigated as a potential criminal under a federal “hate crimes” law for quoting from the Bible, and he’s being targeted using a Canadian provision under which no defendant ever has been acquitted, according to a new report.
Pete Vere, a canon lawyer and Catholic journalist, has reported on the prosecution of Father Alphonse de Valk, a pro-life activist known across Canada, by the Canadian Human Rights Commission – “a quasi-judicial investigative body with the power of the Canadian government behind it” – at CatholicExchange.com.
“What was Father de Valk’s alleged ‘hate act’?” Vere wrote.
“Father defended the [Catholic] Church’s teaching on marriage during Canada’s same-sex ‘marriage’ debate, quoting extensively from the Bible, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and Pope John Paul II’s encyclicals. Each of these documents contains official Catholic teaching. And like millions of other people throughout the world and the ages – many of whom are non-Catholics and non-Christians — Father believes that marriage is an exclusive union between a man and a woman,” he wrote.
The new case comes just as columnist and author Mark Steyn, and Maclean’s magazine which published an excerpt from his “America Alone” book, are on trial before the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal for similar “offenses.”
“We know under the Supreme Court of Canada [and] under tribunals of this country that there are reasonable limits [to freedom of expression,]” Faisal Joseph, a lawyer for the plaintiffs in the Steyn dispute, said in a LifeSiteNew.com report.
That case revolves around Joseph’s claims the defendants depicted Muslims as “a violent people” with a religion that is “violent.”
In the new case, Vere raised the question that Canada now considers morality a “hate crime.”
“If one, because of one’s sincerely held moral beliefs, whether it be Jew, Muslim, Christian, Catholic, opposes the idea of same-sex marriage in Canada, is that considered ‘hate’?” he asked.
Vere wrote that the response he got from Mark van Dusen, a spokesman for the federal human rights prosecution office, shocked him.
“We investigate complaints,” Vere reported van Dusen told him. “We don’t set public policy or moral standards. We investigate complaints based on the circumstances and the details outlined in the complaint. And … if … upon investigation, deem that there is sufficient evidence, then we may forward the complaint to the tribunal, but the hate is defined in the Human Rights Act under section 13-1.
“Our job is to look at it, compare it to the act, to accumulate case law, tribunal and court decisions that have reflected on hate and decide whether to advance the complaint, dismiss it or whether there is room for a settlement between parties,” van Dusen told Vere.
What is shocking about that, Vere wrote, is the admission that unjustified complaints can be dismissed, yet the case against de Valk has continued now for more than six months.
“In other words, individual Jews, Muslims, Catholics and other Christians who, for reasons of conscience, hold to their faith’s traditional teaching concerning marriage, could very well be guilty of promoting hate in Canada. The same is true of any faith community in Canada that does not embrace this modern redefinition of one of the world’s oldest institutions – a redefinition that even the highly secularist France rejects,” Vere wrote.
De Valk, who publishes the “Catholic Insight” magazine that “bases itself on the Church’s teaching and applies it to various circumstances in our time,” is accused by a homosexual of promoting “extreme hatred and contempt” against homosexuals.
Vere said, however, the priest is simply following the teachings of the Bible and the examples of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XV by stating that Christians must love homosexuals and treat them with dignity due humans.
Besides the complaints against the priest and Steyn, other cases already have substantiated the Canadian precedent that Christian beliefs can be evidence for convictions.
In 2005, a Knights of Columbus council was fined more than $1,000 for refusing to allow its facility to be used for a lesbian “wedding,” and before that printer Scott Brockie was fined $5,000 for declining to print homosexual-themed stationery. Also, in Saskatechewan, Hugh Owens was fined thousands of dollars for quoting Bible verses in a newspaper and London, Ontario, mayor Diane Haskett was fined $10,000 for refusing to proclaim a homosexual pride day, Vere enumerated.
Bishop Fred Henry has described the situation as “a new form of censorhip and thought control.” Those are the same words leading Christians in the United States have used to describe the most recent “hate crimes” plan before the U.S. Congress, which specifically targeted for elimination criticism of alternative sexual lifestyles.
Vere also warned that in the Steyn case, the bottom line is that a Canadian human rights tribunal now is “attempting to prosecute a case against an American resident, based upon what an American citizen allegedly posted to a mainstream American Catholic website. What passes for mainstream Catholic discussion in America is now the basis for a hate complaint in Canada.”
But the United States is not immune to such work, either, he noted, citing the New Mexico photographer fined $6,600 for refusing to meet the demands of a lesbian to take pictures at a “wedding.”
Also, California has set in state law a ban on introducing anything but “positive” information about alternative sexual lifestyles, including homosexuality, in its public school.
Vere’s warnings were followed by one from Grace Harman, who noted on the website’s forum: “It would appear that Canadian law is discriminating against people on the basis of their religious faith, or perhaps discriminating against God himself, who gave us the laws of nature and purpose of life.”