By Jonathon Van Maren
Alberta’s NDP government has made the next move against religious schools in the province—and this time, they’ve dropped any pretence that their ongoing attacks on religious schools are anything short of crass bigotry. At the end of August, Education Minister David Eggen announced that funding would be pulled from Christian schools that refused to accept Gay-Straight Alliance Clubs. Now, the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms has released details of the changes that the government is demanding from Christian schools:
The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms today released correspondence sent to independent schools by Curtis Clark, Alberta’s Deputy Minister of Education, threatening schools with defunding if they do not remove the following content from their “Safe and Caring” school policies:
- “We believe men and women were created in the image of God, after His likeness, and therefore have transcendent, intrinsic worth.” (allegedly violates School Act because this is “unwelcoming, uncaring and/or disrespectful”)
- As part of the school’s Personal and Social Value Commitments: “To develop godly attitudes toward marriage and the family along with the understanding and skills needed to establish a God-honouring home.” (allegedly violates School Act for being “unwelcoming, uncaring and/or disrespectful”)
- “…parents have been given the responsibility to raise their children, and are the primary educators of their children. Therefore, the school will involve parents as appropriate and necessary regarding their children’s participation in school student groups in accordance with the usual practices of notification.” (allegedly violates the School Act)
- “the unchangeable and infallible truth of the Word of God” (allegedly violates School Act requirement that “diversity” must be “respected”)
- “Upon receipt of a request for a club or activity, the principal shall determine whether the requested club or activities would create a safe, caring, welcoming and respectful environment and is consistent with the vision and mission of the school.” (allegedly violates School Act for being “unwelcoming, uncaring and/or disrespectful”)
- “God created mankind as male and female, equal in dignity and worth, yet with distinct and complementary roles” (allegedly contrary to School Act requirement for “welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environment”)
- “Proposals for student clubs and activities will be evaluated according to their promotion of the values, principles, mission and vision of the school” (allegedly contrary to the School Act)
- “God’s institution of marriage, a covenant relationship between one man and one woman, is the sole environment within which sexual activity is permitted, and is the context in which children are to be raised.” (allegedly violates School Act requirement for “welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environment”)
- “Obedience to God’s law supersedes subjection to human authority” (allegedly contrary to the School Act)
- “… the above doctrines will be taught as truth in our school.” (allegedly violates School Act by disrespecting “diversity”)
- “All school groups, clubs and activities must teach, demonstrate and embrace the biblical perspective that is the foundation for all school activities” (allegedly violates the School Act)
- “Names of student groups will be in harmony with the teachings of Scripture and the values and faith perspective of the school community” (allegedly violates the School Act)
- “The school’s teachers and staff need not teach ethics or religious doctrines that are contrary to the school community’s faith/value commitments in a way that portrays them as equally credible or worthy of belief.” (allegedly violates School Act requirement to respect “diversity”)
- “As appropriate, if a parent or student believes the faith and/or value commitment of the School and the parent’s or student’s faith and/or values are incompatible, and continuing to enroll the student in the School is not in the best interest of the student, then the School shall assist the parent or student to enroll in another school for the subsequent school year.” (allegedly contrary to the School Act as unwelcoming, uncaring and/or disrespectful)
- As a requirement on a form for setting up a student organization: “Please explain how the formation of this club will help the school better achieve its mission and vision.” (allegedly violates School Act for being unwelcoming, uncaring and/or disrespectful)
Alberta Education states that failure to remove the above content from a school’s “Safe and Caring” policies “may result in funding implications … and the suspension or cancellation of accreditation.”
Schools in receipt of these demands and threats from Alberta Education, along with all schools in Alberta, had submitted their policies to David Eggen in March of 2016. Since March of 2016, in the past 2½ years, schools have not received a response from David Eggen as to whether he considered their policies to follow the School Act.
It was not until the week of September 4, 2018, that some schools finally received specific feedback about their policies from the Alberta Government, well after the start of the 2018-19 school year.
“By demanding that independent schools remove religious content from their safe-and-caring policies, David Eggen is attacking the welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environment that these schools have in place,” stated lawyer John Carpay, President of the Justice Centre.
The Justice Centre represents parents and dozens of schools in a constitutional challenge to the Bill 24 secrecy provisions, which require withholding information from parents about their own children as young as five years old.
The NDP attacks on schools began as a radical progressive government forcing LGBT ideology into communities that did not want it, and have now metastasized into a blunt declaration by the government that schools cannot govern themselves according to their Christian beliefs. “Diversity” must be respected, by which the NDP means that a diverse array of religious schools must accept progressive ideology and accede to their demands or face further attacks from the government. This is no longer simply about Gay Straight Alliance clubs—the NDP is telling Christian schools that they cannot teach Christian doctrine, cannot state their belief that the Bible is God’s Word, cannot respect the primary role of parents in the education process, and cannot state that the biblical worldview is true.
And, most tellingly, the NDP had a problem with one school noting that God’s authority superseded man’s authority—because they do not believe that to be true. They believe that they are the final authority on everything, which is why they demanded that a Christian school remove acknowledgement of God’s sovereignty from their mission statement. The battle lines have been openly drawn now: Alberta’s NDP government wants to drive any acknowledgement of Christianity as true from the province’s education system. On this, they will not succeed.
For anyone interested, my book on The Culture War, which analyzes the journey our culture has taken from the way it was to the way it is and examines the Sexual Revolution, hook-up culture, the rise of the porn plague, abortion, commodity culture, euthanasia, and the gay rights movement, is available for sale here.
84 thoughts on “Alberta’s NDP says Christian school cannot state that God’s authority supersedes human authority”
Looks like Canada is no longer a ‘free’ country!!!!! So so sad!!!!!
There is a simple solution: the schools can stop taking public funds. Problem solved. Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.
In that case all Christians need to be able to opt out of paying school taxes.
Something fishy going on here. I agree, Christians should be given the option not to pay school taxes, then we can channel that money to Christian schools. How about that?
The NDP are ideological Left Hand Path Marxist SATANISTS.
…In case anyone was wondering…
Why do you care if parents want to teach their own children their values and have them attend a school that other agrees with them?? If you close these schools, the government and people of Alberta will stay PAY the SAME AMOUNT of money for the education of the children. We are Canadians! It is our RIGHT to have differing options and values! What makes YOUR ideas and beliefs so much more important than Christians, First Nations, or Muslims?
I would like to see them enforce these rules in a Muslim school. Egan’s head on a platter, anyone?
Very well said Sam, for years now we have been eating the fruit from a Judeo-Christian society. That day is coming to an end and we will have to adjust both our perspective and strategies. We are entering an hour where the majority of Christians throughout history have lived. Jesus said in John 15:18 – “If you find the godless world is hating you, remember it got its start hating me.”
Funding isn’t the entire issue. Accreditation is being taken away unless there is compliance by schools. If they don’t comply, the school is shut down by the government.
Actually, all educational institutions are unaccredited in Canada, except for one or two universities . They just go by reputation.
I believe homeschoolers are subject to the same restrictions
In BC “traditional homeschoolers”, are not subject to those restrictions. Distance learners enrolled in courses at a public or independent school are.
Except that the government is making a claim that they are the highest authority. They believe they have a higher authority than parents over all school age kids. No matter your school, there are very scary laws in place now. Parental rights have been taken away in ALL schools. Are you ok with not knowing what is going on at your child’s school, just because the government knows better than you. They are intentionally withholding information from parents and now schools are not legally allowed to inform parents of certain activities, even when the parents inquire. This is for ALL SCHOOLS. We need to take a stand to protect all children, no matter what school they are in.
This is pre-Nazi government indoctrination happening.
People need to wake up.
This is very alarming, and the biggest reason why I disagree with what is happening. Government is trying to take control of people’s minds, in this case starting with your children. Exactly the youth societies of nazi germany. We denounce them, but are doing the same thing. The history is still in recent memory, and we are already repeating it. Where is Canada’s freedom of speach? Where is Canada’s freedom? This is not just about Christian belief. It is about anyone who has a different belief than the government. Non-Christians need to stand up for rights before it is too late for them too.
Who wants Rachel Notley controlling the minds of their children?
Alberta is not the United States. Simply refusing state funding won’t do it. The province can still yank their accreditation if they don’t offer incense to Caesar.
Why can’t they take public funds. Much less is given per student then public schools. So if these schools shut down, it will actually cost the government much more for these students to go into the public system. PLUS all the parents still pay public school taxes AND thousands of dollars in school fees. And most are not rich. These are not hoity toity fancy private schools. So…. if funding is suggested to be removed, then in fairness taxes on these families should not be charged and burden the public system more.
no one is suggesting to shut these schools down, just that they need to accept govt guidelines and rules, both to receive govt (taxpayer) funding and to operate. pretty straightforward, actually
Are you really this stupid?
Being told to accept certain guideline in order to operate is a threat to be shut down for not accepting said guidelines.
Please: Engage your brain before commenting.
the schools have a choice: accept govt guidelines or lose govt funding and possibly be shut down. if they are shut down, it’s because of their own intransigence. doesn’t take a genius to realize that
No even if schools self fund the government will pull accreditation. This isn’t a matter of funding. It’s a matter of telling people what they can’t believe… a gross violation of ou r rights of freedom of conscience.
This used to be a plausible solution, but now government is threatening accreditation.
It’s not that simple, since they have rendered to Caesar but Caesar is not giving back. They have paid their taxes so maybe dont pay a double levy – to the government and then again to pay for a service that should be paid for by the goverment!
Education is the pathway for cultural Marxists to your children. Diversity is our strength – if you think like us.
Then those with children should have the right to withhold school taxes. They pay those taxes whether they have children in school or not. That could be a very double edged sword.
I would like to see them enforce these rules in a Muslim school. Egan’s head on a platter, anyone?
Do these same rules apply to Muslim schools?
This has been tried before. It always seems to end in fire and death. One time it ended in water and death. But that was a long time ago.
Which means, as you know, they will not be able to function. Close their doors, and funnel their kids into schools that practice the thing their previous school could not do on religious grounds.
Or create a sharp rise in homeschooling. But, of course, as this govt. has already proven, it is against the law to not register your kids with a school board, and they tried real hard to shut down a homeschool-friendly board a couple years ago. They do not want Alberta funding to finance Christian education of any kind.
Either break the law by not registering your kids with a school board in Alberta, or quit insisting on Christian education.
Sounds like religious persecution to me.
Section 2: Fundamental Freedoms
Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
freedom of conscience and religion;
freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
freedom of peaceful assembly; and
freedom of association. NDP cannot limit or change these rights through manipulation or threats to withhold funding. They have the fundamental right in Canada to teach Christian views.
How do regular Canadians have freedom of conscience?
Background: the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects from governmental interference with the rights.
Now, if each person has the right to their religion, can the government have or endorse one religion? The answer has to be no – giving special tax breaks to Christians would be discriminatory to Muslims, etc.
Now the question becomes can the government financially support religious schools? This is an interesting question and it must only be possible if the government funds all religious schools. The moment one religion is not added to the roster, there is discrimination and the government must either fund that school as well or cease funding all schools.
The provincial government is not limiting the conscience rights – Albertans are free to practice their religion. The provincial government is entitled to set education standards and require those standards be met (same as in Ontario).
The alberta act of 1905 is one of the reasons why alberta catholic schools are protected differently than say.. in British columbia. There is a cbc article that explains it well here : https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/why-alberta-saskatchewan-ontario-have-separate-catholic-schools-1.4614462 As an alberta resident who chose to send his kids to public school, i am thankful for the choices alberta parents have regarding education in alberta. More choice for parents is awesome.. afterall diversity is a strength… is it not?
They apply to all citizens. Rights are rights they can not be severed in diffeent buildinga.
If Christians believe all this nonsense, no one says they cant follow it. But as a student, you should have the ability to have all school departments rules and regulations being followed. Problems with that? Dont take our money.
Well, actually, the NDP is saying they can’t follow it. These are specifically religious schools we are talking about. And if you think all religion is strictly private, you don’t understand religion.
Regarding whose money is going where, don’t forget that the parents of the students in these private schools are still paying taxes to support the public system.
Sorry Ken, but I pay taxes in Alberta, as do all of the Christians who live here. It’s our money too. And our Alberta Act allows for government funding of Christian schools but not government determining what Christianity is.
Sorry Jojo – but the Alberta Act says nothing of the sort.
Catholic separate education is protected – although it has being operating unconstitutionally for years and is just about to be reeled back in. There is ZERO mandate for public funding of religious schools in any piece of legislation beyond that.
IF that is so, Luke, then why are they being funded in the first place?
It ought to be a bedrock constitutional principle that a government cannot require any waiving of a constitutional right in order to receive a government benefit. It seems that the officials in Alberta want religious schools to do just this.
Of course, I’m an American. Perhaps Canadians don’t care about such things.
Does it apply to Catholic Schools too. Or only Private Christian Schools.
The Catholic schools in Alberta agreed to the government’s demands.
But an Islamic school can say that pedophile Mohammed and his false God is does – in a PUBLIC SCHOOL SETTING!!!
Tick-Tock …. May 31, 2019 cant come fast enough!!
God will prevail! Who do these self imposed and impressed people think you are? Let the fight begin!
God will judge – and he warns all of us not to.
The ndp are satans mouthpiece in alberta.. We need people to rise up and put a stop to their ludicrous stupidity. They can’t make any decisions let alone set themselves up to be a final authority. These boneheads along with their dipstick leader need to be completely disposed of along with all their immoral laws
God has supremacy over all mankind! He has the power to give life and also take it away! Rachel Notley, God hears you and will make judgment based on your actions here. You will know what authority is very quickly when the Almighty dethrones you and casts you aside just like He did with so many other Kings and rulers.
You do not mess with the authority of our God!
God will always win no matter how hard you try to remove Him from our schools who make a choice to use His Name and teach their students about Him.
Its time for persecution of a faiths to end. Christian or Non Christian Government should keep their noses and opinions out of our schools and homes. Its time for us to take back our individual and family rights and tell them to butt out.
Why does government think it’s ok to remove the rights of Christian families and impose their views. We seriously need a revolution or do we all let some morons dictate what our kids can be taught. I am personally very tired of left wing views being shoved down my throat.
In my opinion, in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, it states, Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of GOD and the rule of law! Don’t these politicians read OR just follow the leader? Do not recall any of these problems a mere four years ago!!! THINK about it!
Dear NDP part and Premier Rachel. I have been a public school board truste for 15 years, prior to the last election, and I am not of the catholic faith. I want to publicly state my utter disgust with your leftist gay indoctrination agenda of our children. I am not anti gay, I believe they have a right to choose and also a right to be respected and safe, but their choice is their business not my childrens. This anti Christian agenda is no different then our ugly education past of forcing first nations into out school systems to educate their heritage out of them. It ended in disaster then, as it will now. Your job is to educate kids on the core classes not to endocrinate public opinion or policy. We have a long way to go to say we are doing a good job just on the core subjects of reading, writing, and arithmetic. How about we get that right and focus on that, rather than confusing children even more and pushing a leftist political issue on children who are not old enough to decide for themselves. Shame on you, shame on each of the members of our government for bringing children into a debate that adults can’t even understand. It is shameful that you would pray on our young to take christianity or Christian beliefs away from our kids and preach supremacy to parental rights. One of the founding principles that democracy is based on is the freedom to worship. Are their still instances of bigotry in the world? Yes, and no matter what we do their will always be idiots among us, but that does not give anyone the right to indoctrinate children on what is acceptable or not, that is a parent’s job, STAY OUT OF OUR RIGHTS AS PARENTS AND DO YOUR JOB TO EDUCATE ON READING, WRITING, AND ARITHMATIC. If you can’t even do that right then how the hell do you expect to get this right. We still have kids failing or not graduating, don’t you even attempt to preach supremacy to me that you know better for my kids. To my catholic friends and board members, I stand with you to defend your rights and anyone who doesn’t should be fearing what comes next. Id they can take religious freedom away, what can’t they take from society? Ask any first nations student how endoctrinating them turned out.
This… this is very well said. I really hope you have sent this to all members of the government and school boards, not just here.
thank you Mr Lance Miller,
These are the time we must stand strong for the right to our believe,,,,,,,, we have the right in CANADA of freedom of speech, /God keep our land glorious and free…… We cannot let the Politicians take our freedom away.
Absolutely, you hit the nail on the head. Send to all MP’s, keep the pressure on.
well said Lance. I agree with you.
It is an interesting dilemma. The basics come down to this – if the belief is taught that God’s law supersedes that of the government, then you have the beginnings of a theocracy and/or a religious jihad. This is 100% wrong! So on a practical level, the Alberta Government is correct. And it appears that only the fanatics that are aping the American religious right are complaining about it.
How does it follow that because Christian’s believe in God’s supremacy, that society will turn into a theocracy?
Even though she will be gone soon, It looks like Jason is getting soft and creeping up in her footsteps. To many sheep and none of them have teeth, How did we get here anyway. Time to REVOLT
Sounds like we have a group of modern day heroes in BC. Check out the the west coast Christian accord.
It’s high time we stop allowing the minority to dictate and intimidate the majority.
This is ridiculous… Definitely not voting NDP come next election. This experiment has gone too far
The NDP has moved so far from its Christian roots it is insane. There are levels of authority and these are stacked with God Almighty on top and teachers under Him. By denying God as the supreme authority they are denying knowledge of God and who they are before Him. God will not be mocked … and hopefully they repent before facing His rage on Judgment Day!
I am afraid we are loosing our free CANADA ….a very sad day to come.
Well obviously in right wing thinking Alberta the NDP just wanted one term in government. This issue alone will swing the voters solid to the right.
Ok. So, all these groups have “rights”, but what about the Christians? Seems they have been stripped of their “rights” in this free country. Christians need to start coming out and standing up for their rights before it’s too late! Christians have just as much right to stand up for what they believe in, just as the LGBT groups and muslim groups. It is not right or fair for the government to say that these groups have any more rights than the Christian groups and what they believe in! Such a crime what this country has come to!
what rights have Christians been stripped of? only to not impose their beliefs (e.g. on abortion, on LGBTQ people) on others
Here you are again, writing without thinking.
A Christian school must be allowed to teach actual Christianity if it is to be such a school. This involves no forcing beliefs on anyone as attending such a school is not mandatory.
Your problem is you just don’t like what believing Christians actual believe. You should simply come out and say so.
and there you go again, not grasping the point
i’ll repeat it: “what rights have Christians been stripped of?”
who made her GOD?
I believe that the actions of this minister amount to bullying of the schools involved. We don’t allow bullying on our playgrounds but the Minister of Education can get away with it?
Re the headline: “Alberta’s NDP says Christian school cannot state that God’s authority supersedes human authority”
1. to which God (or Gods) are you referring?
2. even if there is a God (or Gods), it’s pretty fundamental that his/her/its/their authority (as interpreted by humans) does *not* supersede human authority. Neither Canada nor Alberta is a theocracy…. something that i “thank god” for
Christians and other faiths are welcome to preach their beliefs and tenets in their churches and in the privacy of their homes, but they don’t have carte blanche to do it in schools. i know this is hard for Alberta fundamentalists to grasp and accept this basic principle
What kind of “free country” bans Christian education? These NDP rabid communists are attempting to ban Christian education because it contradicts their twisted concepts of “tolerance”… Tolerance of evil! These demonized maniacs are saying that only schools which meet their ideological litmus tests will be permitted to exist. That’s an affront to a free society but you seem too deceived by your own liberal bias to see that.
What they want is their views on proper secular humanism being in control — of everything.
And here we have it! Steve is just BIGOTED against Christians.
Steve, my boy, whenever you read or hear the term “God” used without qualification, you can take it to refer to that which creates the world — regardless of any particular opinion on the subject.
As for God’s authority superseding state authority, that simply follows logically. God (the power that creates) supersedes ALL created things — including the authority of man-created governments.
To accuse people of trying to create a theocracy (do you even know what that term means, Steve) for wanting to uphold their spiritual and moral beliefs in the private schools they create is beyond absurd. It is the worst form of sophistry.
“Christians and other faiths are welcome to preach their beliefs and tenets in their churches and in the privacy of their homes, but they don’t have carte blanche to do it in schools”
Telling people that their freedom of religion only applies to their temples and homes is the destruction of said freedom! Freedom of religion means being able to practice and preach your religion without the government telling you when and where. I know it’s hard for anti-religion fundamentalists like yourself to grasp this basic principle, Steve, but it is true nonetheless.
I am not nor wish to be “your boy”
again, you fail to grasp the point. you don’t get to receive govt funding to advocate your religious beliefs in schools
“As for God’s authority superseding state authority, that simply follows logically. God (the power that creates) supersedes ALL created things — including the authority of man-created governments.” i guess you’re referring to human interpretation of God’s authority… unless he/she whispers it to you late at night?
our society is based on democratically-elected governments that create laws, and people can’t use their religious beliefs (of any kind) to ignore them
I wonder how those screeching for religious freedom in schools would respond to us teaching that Christianity is untrue, stupid & dangerous – & that Christians should be avoided & shunned for their obviously deluded ignorance in hundreds of publicly funded Albertan schools? I wonder how you’d like that religious freedom?
An interesting question. It might matter on whether or not said school was established specifically to be anti-Christian. They can hardly complain that a religious school of a non-Christian religion was teaching said religion’s beliefs.
However, I’m sure those supporting the string-attaching for religious schools would love that.
CLARIFICATION: By ‘that’ in the last sentence I mean the hypothetical that Mr. Fevin put forth.
It’s plain to see the hatred from the NDP Reds in their audacious demands, shaking their fists at God and demanding Christians swear fealty to their insane Marxist ideology.
Public schools are completely infested with insane sodomite abomination gender bender and unionist communist agendas. They even have mandatory sodomite clubs to stalk and recruit kids. What do you think the insane asylums passing as public schools today already tell the kids about Christians and God? The hypothetical example you put forward is really just a picture of what public schools already are.
what do public schools today tell the kids about Christians and Gods?
well, i hope that they, in Social Studies and History, teach that Christianity is one of the major religions in the world. talk about its history; i.e. how it was founded and grew, its major tenets and beliefs, the role that it played in the spread of Christianity and Colonialism in Canada and around the world. the good work that it has done, and also the major controversies (e.g. its involvement in residential schools, the abuse of children by its clergy).
you know… facts.
and also that most Christians are great people, but that there are also Christians who say and do terrible things, including accusing public schools of promoting sodomy
and i hope that schools also teach about the other major religions… Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism
If requiring all schools to have sodomite “alliance clubs” that promote the highly dangerous, degenerate homosexual chosen deathstyle to kids and subsequently hide their involvement in said club from parents isn’t “promoting sodomy” then what is? If forcing sodomite gender bender derangement on small kids through bizarre curricula isn’t promoting sodomy then what is? The fact that the gay movement is actively infiltrating schools for the recruitment and grooming of kids is obvious to anyone with a functioning brain. Do you think they teach kids the facts about homosexuality? The HIV, suicide, donestic abuse, drug abuse and insanity that ravage those “communities”? I think you’ll find those facts strangely absent.
Abuse of kids by clergy? Not my clergy. I’m not a Romanist, and unmarried homosexuals can’t be church leaders according to 1 Tim 3. I have no part in Catholic sodomite peccadilloes. I believe in the Bible and true Christianity is found in the person of Jesus Christ only, not the sins of men. That’s a fact.
Where does hard core commie Eggen get the audacity to say that Christians have to go against their religious conscience and accept and promote sodomy and humanism? Where does he get off telling Christians to exchange the truth of God for a lie?
that you for so perfectly illustrating just how ignorant and intolerant some Christians are, and reinforcing the notion that we need to keep religion out of our schools, and to not use the Bible when making our laws
you can crawl back into your hole now. but be careful; there might be a homosexual in it
I have been asking God to bring a case before the Supreme Court of Canada which would validate the introductory clause of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which reads, “Recognizing the supremacy of God and the rule of law:”. This introduction is followed by a colon which means that this is provides the context for interpretating all that follows, that is, the entire Charter. I cannot believe Notley would have any hope of winning such an explicit challenge to the preeminence of God.
I hate to break it to you, but the introductory clause does not take precedence over the text, plus the freedom of religion clause means the government cannot support any religion.
As a result, the government must remain secular and cannot actually state God (especially when referring to the Christian God) is a superior authority to the country.
The Colon and the Charter:
A colon is a punctuation mark used to identify a major division in a sentence; to indicate that what follows is an elaboration, summation, implication, etc., of that which precedes it.
There is a single introductory clause at the very beginning Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It reads, Whereas Canada is founded upon the principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law:
It is of the most critical significance that this controversial clause ends with a colon [ : ]. What this punctuation mark means is that this is not a completed sentence that ends at this point; rather this clause is the contextual introduction to the list which follows. Everything that follows these two small, vertically aligned dots must be read, evaluated, understood and acted upon in light of the words that precede them. Without the words that precede the colon the articles listed in the Charter have no context, e.g. one cannot enforce a section of the Charter without the recognition of the rule of law.
The introductory clause is often referred to as the preamble but this is to dilute the essence of what is written. This clause is the very heart of the Charter. The heading that precedes the the introductory clause reads, “CONSTITUTION ACT, 1982 (80) PART I CANADIAN CHARTER OF RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS”.
A charter is the grant of authority or rights, stating that the granter formally recognizes the prerogative of the recipient to exercise the rights specified. It is implicit that the granter retains superiority (or sovereignty), and that the recipient admits a limited (or inferior) status within the relationship, and it is within that sense that charters were historically granted, and that sense is retained in modern usage of the term. (ref: Wikipedia)
The controversy surrounding the introductory clause, with its all-important colon, almost exclusively appears in relation to recognizing the supremacy of God and [apart from anarchists] not to the rule of law. Here is the dilemma though, however controversial it might be, recognizing the supremacy of God is the most important and fundamental aspect of the Charter. God’s supremacy cannot simply be ignored because it is controversial. It simply is. If these three words are ignored the Charter is invalidated in exactly the same way as if one removed recognition of the rule of law. It is God’s supremacy that gives the rights listed within the Charter their context and it is the rule of law which upholds these same rights.
The supremacy of God is an indelible statement in the original document signed on behalf of all Canadians by the then prime minister of Canada, Pierre Trudeau. The removal of God’s supremacy from the Charter would require cutting a physical hole in the document to remove it. Likewise, an amendment, even sanctioned by all the provinces and territories, would not erase it. It’s there in indelible printers’ ink. As long as there is a Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, God’s supremacy in its interpretation must remain. In 1999 NDP MP, Svend Robinson, proposed in the House of Commons that the mention of God be struck from the preamble and he was relegated to the backbenches for his efforts.
Some have suggested that recognizing the supremacy of God actually contradicts Section 2 of the Charter (which it does not) where it upholds freedom of thought, conscience, opinion and religion. The Charter specifically says that one has the right to freedom of religion – not freedom from religion. In the same vein, one is free to have the opinion that the Charter may be poorly constructed but not have the lawful right to ignore it. At the Alberta Court of Appeal, Justice Belzil, wrote “…the preamble to the Charter indicated Canada had a Christian heritage and thus courts should not use the Section 2 right to freedom of religion to eliminate the traditions of this heritage.”
The Supreme Court of Canada considered the preamble’s mention of the rule of law in reference to the case re Manitoba Language Rights (1985) and thus confirmed the Charter’s preamble’s importance by writing that “The constitutional status of the rule of law is beyond question.” One cannot simply negate one half of the preamble while endorsing the other.
Theologian Douglas Farrow noted: “The word ‘Whereas’, moreover, indicates all sections of the Charter should be read in light of the principle recognizing the supremacy of God. This includes the ‘rule of law’, which comes after the ‘supremacy of God’ in the preamble, and that the rule of law is hard to account for, to interpret, or to sustain without reference to the supremacy of God, as the rule of law developed from the religious backgrounds of Canada.” In other words, one cannot have a consistent moral law (or right) without a Moral Law Giver.
The Canadian Secular Alliance asks on their website, “If Canada officially recognizes the supremacy of one particular God, in what sense are Canadians free to choose their own religion and follow their own conscience?” In asking this question the Alliance misses the point that one is free to exercise and follow one’s religion [or lack thereof] and conscience within the confines of the Charter, e.g. one is free to practice witchcraft or Satanism but not to offer child sacrifices as an expression of it. The law recognizes the Biblical principle ‘You shall not kill [murder]’, Exodus 20:13, which obviously and reasonably places limitations on the rights of those who practice such cults.
Section 7 of the Charter states that: “Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and the security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.” And Section 15 states, “Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.”
Unfortunately, the Government of Canada still fails to recognize and include the unborn child in the ‘Everyone’ protected by the Charter; that they be given right to “life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof…” Unborn children are hugely discriminated by age (their rights are only recognized [typically] at the age of nine-months), sex (gender selective abortion) and by mental and physical disability (in Canada ninety percent of children diagnosed with Down syndrome are killed in the womb). And no, before you go looking, is there anywhere in the Charter that explicitly gives anyone the right to kill that which has been conceived in a woman.
God, who is supreme, says of the unborn child, “Before you were in the womb I knew you.” Jeremiah 1:5.
We would be a much more virtuous country if we took the Charter’s colon seriously (no pun intended).