SCREED: Why change is so desperately needed in Canada –
Christiancrat vs. independent Christian journalists!
It’s painful for me to write this. But I am NOT asking for pity. I want action, and I want it soon.
First, who am I? An independent Canadian science journalist and longtime columnist for ChristianWeek. My first book, Faith@Science: Why science needs faith in the 21st century (Winnipeg: J. Gordon Shillingford, 2001) was largely a collection of my columns.
Last week I offered to quit my decade-long column at ChristianWeek. Why?
One, Janet Epp Buckingham, whom the ChristianWeek editorial director tells me is somebody important* in the evangelical Christian community sniffs this month, in her own column on the current civil rights problem in Canada created by misnamed Human Rights Commissions (hereafter “hrcs”), “Abolish human rights commission? Not so fast”:
“Some people are using the mere fact that the commissions are considering the complaints to argue that they should be abolished. That is like saying that the courts should be shut down just because someone has sued me! Sure, it is a pain and it can be costly if you hire a lawyer to defend you. But that is what happens in a country where you have laws and courts. You may have to defend yourself against someone whose claim has little merit. Everyone deserves their day in court. “
Now I had to read her statement over a few times in order to grasp the full impact of its unreality and general awfulness, in relation to Christian journalists in Canada. Finally, I felt able to say something.
Here it is:
No. Everyone whose claim has “little merit” does NOT deserve their day in an “hrc” court, as they exist in Canada. I am appalled that – at this point – someone who apparently knows so little about the “hrcs” workings would even comment.
I get hate mail every day and have been threatened with reprisal in Canada, because at the Post-Darwinist, I defend the design of the universe and at the Mindful Hack I defend the case for the existence of the soul.
A Christian freelance (independent) journalist like me has already agreed to live on a low income, as I have done for many years, in order to pursue what I know to be true, against fashionable and profitable error.
Anyone can complain to an “hrc” about me (or you, reader) for any reason, if they feel dissed by something you said. You will not get anything like the justice you would get in a normal court.
So you can lose your pension or your house to lawyers’ fees – or you can accept unfair fines and unacceptable sanctions, like “apologies” for what you know is fair comment. All in a court that is not necessarily administered by judges or lawyers, but perhaps only by activists.
That’s all OKAY with Janet Epp Buckingham. It’s just a “pain,” as she puts it.
Not a pain for her, to be sure, but a pain for me – so I guess in that case it doesn’t matter, right?
In her column, Epp Buckingham frets about anti-Christian art. She wonders, shouldn’t people like me be really upset about that instead of about my loss of civil rights?
No. I shouldn’t. And here’s why:
I simply cannot believe that – in these times, when I struggle to get across basic facts about the world we live in – (Yes the universe shows evidence of design! Yes you DO have a soul!) that anyone (especially a lawyer!) would think I should trade my civil liberties for the right to persecute some troubled soul who purveys anti-Christian art.
But the situation is actually far worse than I have told you so far.
In the “hrc” hearing that Janet Epp Buckingham thinks is just a “pain”, I’d be paying a lawyer who couldn’t really even tell me what to expect to happen – because, so far as I can tell – the “hrcs” basically make it up as they go along. Not like a usual court where your lawyer can really advise you.
Yes, it’s bad enough that I must lose my savings or my home to pay a lawyer, just to go on doing my job. The Bible would say that was an injustice, but … who, oh, cares about that?
And that’s precisely what Janet Epp Buckingham – and, I must presume, the evangelical bigwigs she represents – apparently do not care about.
I think Janet Epp Buckingham owes every independent journalist in Canada an apology, but especially the Christian ones, who have – in many cases – sacrificed much and risked much.
But never mind these Christiancrats. They can preach to their own choir. In the REAL world, we need a Royal Commission on the way these “hrc” outfits work and whether they actually serve their intended purpose.
*Here’s what I was told: Legal counsel and director of public policy for the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada for many years, and currently is director of the Laurentian Leadership Centre, affiliated with Trinity Western University. Given what has happened in the last twenty years, I do not know any reason at all to doubt her involvement. – d.