Toronto Cardinal in forefront of religious freedom struggle
In a growing controversy that is seen by many as an attack on religious freedom, the Canadian federal government is demanding that applicants for the Canada Summer Jobs Program confirm that they agree with the government’s “core mandate.”
According to the policy adopted on 19 December 2017, to obtain summer jobs funding grants, employers must sign an affidavit affirming that they support full abortion rights, same-sex marriage, and transgenderism. The government will not back down, although it has extended its deadline for faith-based groups to sign from 2 February to 9 February 2018.
Funding will be denied if an organization refuses to profess its support. Hence the policy effectively excludes Christian employers and other employers with traditional views about life, marriage, and sex from obtaining grants to employ students for the summer, despite the fact that millions of Canadians share these traditional views.
Churches, faith-based charities, and many religiously-affiliated groups that help orphans, widows, migrants and refugees are now being denied funding because of their religious beliefs. Even more worrying, this move creates an official policy of discrimination on the basis of political viewpoint—discriminating against those who disagree with the Liberal government’s radical social agenda.
Canadians Christians believe that this is another dangerous example of how the government is discriminating against people of faith who affirm traditional views on life and sexual morality. Many fear signing this kind of declaration could be considered a blueprint for the future, making eligibility for government jobs or the receipt of government benefits (pensions, healthcare, etc.) subject to conforming with the governing party’s far-left views on abortion and sexuality.
Nevertheless, there is a growing backlash against this discriminatory policy and 87 leaders of faith-based organizations have united in opposition to it. Among them is Cardinal Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, who has taken the lead of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops in their opposition to what is being called a “religious test.”
Thousands have also signed a petition urging the Canadian government to discontinue this ill-advised policy which discriminates against students and summer employers who hold different political views than the Liberal government.