Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Should VOM Canada Support Persecuted Canadians?

Several weeks ago, we received a letter from someone who was angry that we were providing some support to a marriage commissioner who is fighting in the courts for the right not to marry homosexuals.  His provincial government has ruled that he must or he will lose his license.  It is worth noting that marriage commissioners are licensed by their provincial governments and not employed or paid by the government. The Supreme Court of Canada has confirmed that clergy cannot be compelled to perform marriages contrary to their religious beliefs. This same freedom should, in our opinion, apply to licensed marriage commissioners. Interestingly enough, in the past, marriage commissioners could refuse to officiate at weddings that violated their religious convictions. All of that has changed since same-sex couples have been given the right to marry in Canada.

The letter writer was angry not because she felt that we should provide more support but because we were providing any support at all.  All of our funds, she believed, needed to go to persecuted Christians in other countries who cannot afford to help themselves.  This person, she felt (without knowing his actual situation) could support himself because he lived in Canada.

I am curious to know how you feel about this.  Do you believe that The Voice of the Martyrs should also provide limited support to those who face persecution (and, yes, we will call it "persecution") in Canada because of their biblical convictions?  I look forward to your participation in this poll and your comments.


smeyer said...

Yes,BOMC should support canadians when the experience persecution for their faith.However withthis statement I also realise that there are some tricky issues.If someone decides to have 25 wives because he believes that God wants that?Where is the line between protection for individual people and freedom of religion ?

Anonymous said...

Given the extreme persecution elsewhere, I think VOM should not get involved in this case. It is also a very divisive and political case and could harm VOM's reputation (and therefore ability to garner support for persecuted Christians). We have more important issues to consider. Besides, Mr. Boisson's comments were hurtful and not loving, as we should be as Christians.

Joanne G said...

Yes, I think it is good for VOM to get involved. While the US has the Alliance Defense Fund who are frequently successful in defending such cases, there is precious little available in Canada. And since the freedom of rights of Christians are rapidly disappearing in this land, now is a good time to act. These cases need all the help they can get.

suzanna said...

Let us consider what the mandate of VOMC is.
"To encourage and empower Christians to fulfill the Great Commission in areas of the world where they are persecuted for their involvement in propagating the gospel of Jesus Christ.We accomplish this by providing Bibles,literature,radio broadcasts,medical assistance and OTHER FORMS OF AID.(capital letters by writer).Persecution has come to our country.When I was nurse in an outpost station,I received a poster saying that "you should only follow the good spirits"Anybody familiar with animistic idolatry will know what this means.I refused and put up a scripture verse instead.
I have a friend who works in the schools and one day a little girl came to her and sobbed out her home problems,she had lost her mother.My friend could not tell her about Jesus.Forbidden in the present day schools.Students in the highschool cannot mention the creation story in their papers they have to write.Chaplains in the armed forces cannot mention the name of Jesus in their public prayers.During orientation time before going up North to work among the first nations,we were obliged to attend a ceremony of native animistic religion.Do I have to mention sex education in the schools?Do I have to mention nurses who at one time could not refuse to work in areas where abortions were performed?
Up till now pastors do not have to perform marriages if that is against their belief but if other officials have to perform marriages against their belief,how long will it take before the freedom of others will be curtailed and it becomes a federal offence when a pastor refuses to marry a couple on biblical grounds?
Fear of losing our reputation and giving in to that fear is never the right way.Persecution for religous reasons has begun in our beloved country and we better be wide awake for the dangers of becoming gray.The message of GOD in the bible is BLACK AND WHITE !!

Anonymous said...

Orville Nichols.

1) The tribunal ruling set the precedent that commissioners must perform ceremonies.

Since Nichols made allowances for another commissioner to marry M.J. and B.R, this seems as good a test case as any.

This will be argued under provincial and federal human rights law before the Court of Queens Bench July 10th.

The case will be made on the following tribunal ruling errors:

i) [Nichols is]..."a government official and therefore his sincere and genuine religious beliefs could not be accommodated."

ii) "there was no obligation to accommodate the sincere and genuine religious beliefs"

iii) "his freedom of religion -- protected under both the Human Rights Code and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms -- would be violated by requiring Nichols to perform a same-sex marriage"

Tough one.

I think he is a bigoted old coot, and I also think he has the right to appeal the ruling.

The religious argument has to be made.
Saskatchewan could have taken the route other provinces have, but they didn't.

There will have to be case law made.
If Saskatchewan needs it's 300 marriage commissioners the province has an obligation to accomadate their rights.
Eventually commissioners hired pre-2004 will be gone.

He has the right to be a bigoted old coot and claim the right to be one on religious grounds.

The province made it's decision he is a DoJ general (not specific) statutory officer.
As a citizen he has protection under the Code and under the Charter.

His code and charter rights trump his licence.

Should VOM be involved?
I'm glad I don't have your job.:^)

If this is your mandate:

"To encourage and empower Christians to fulfill the Great Commission in areas of the world where they are persecuted for their involvement in propagating the gospel of Jesus Christ.
We accomplish this by providing Bibles,literature,radio broadcasts,medical assistance and other forms of aid."

Then yes, as odious as I think Nichols is, and as much as I disagree with him, he falls under your mandate.

Pencil him in under 'other forms of aid.'

Bene D

Glenn Penner said...

Bene D, have you ever met or spoken with Orville Nichols? In our conversations with him, he hardly seems like a bigoted old coot. I like your argument, though. You understand that even if we don't agree with someone, we must defend their rights.

Anonymous said...

Three points occur to me:

If VOMC Canada doesn't, who will?

Like many problems this may seem small and a diversion from more important things. The issue won't remain small and one day it will be too big for VOMC and even VOMC may be illegal.

Do we not look like hypocrites if we attack the same behaviour elsewhere but not our own countries?

Lawrence (not a Canadian)

Anonymous said...


I have not met or spoken with Orville Nichols, and I have no business calling him an old coot.

I don't think I'd really want to meet or speak with him, sorry.

No excuse for me to contribute to ignorance, that was decent of you to let me express a feeling.

Tangled with my share of Orvilles in church I guess;^)

Yes, Code and Charter rights have to be defended, he gets that, I get that, you get that.

It's appropriate patient, good natured Christians provide him with qualified assistance.

Bene D

EJM said...

For me, the best question may not be, "Should VOMC be involved in such a case?" Instead, it may be better to ask, "Would a group like VOMC be best equipped to handle such a case?"

Not having followed this particular case, I don't know what assistance VOMC may be providing, or what other groups may be involved in it. However, as one of the earlier commenters mentioned, this likely would be the type of case that ADF would handle here in the U.S. (Personally, though, I'm more partial to groups like The Rutherford Institute and the Becket Fund.)

Therefore, maybe the best assistance that VOMC could provide in this type of case would be to refer the matter to a legal-aid organization similar to ADF, TRI, or Becket--or, if an appropriate group doesn't already exist in Canada, to participate in its creation.

Anonymous said...

Thank-you VOM for supporting our brother who is standing up for his rights not to perform same-sex marriages in Canada. We need to acknowledge the fact that Christianity is being spit upon and I am so glad that we have organizations like VOM to stand alongside truth so that our country will hear truth from someone!

pbbcc said...

I believe VOM should support this person and this case. The consequences of ignoring this issue are widespread. We are the Church and this is one of those things that we need to do together. Thanks for taking the lead in this.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Canadian Christians are facing more and more persecution and will as time goes by. I love the help we are giving other countries and people, but lets not be blinded to our needs in the process and end up wondering what happened and why it happened. Now is the time to step up and speak up.
Galatians 6:2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of CHRIST.
But in so doing we need to: Colossians 4:5,6 Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.
blessings, Arlene Holland

Chuck V said...

The Enemy of our souls is at work in Canada as much as he is elsewhere. The increased secularization of our culture produces a corresponding increase in opposition to revealed Truth. We need to pray for, encourage and support people like Orville Nichols as we are able. They are the Church's front-line saints who can inspire us to greater courage, faith and holiness.

VOMC: could you please post Mr. Nichols' Legal Defence Fund info again.

Glenn Penner said...

The information on Orville Nichols can be found at

Anonymous said...

Yes, VOMC should participate. This is a significant case in Canada, as it is part of the on-going balancing of different freedoms. Here are some of the laws that will be in play...

S.3(1) of the Canadian Human Rights Act:
For all purposes of this Act, the prohibited grounds of discrimination are race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, disability and conviction for which a pardon has been granted.

S.15(1) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms:
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.

S.2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms:
Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
a) freedom of conscience and religion;
b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
d) freedom of association.

S.1 of the Charter:
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.

Joel Mawhorter said...

Hi Glen,

I think the question you are asking can be stated generally as: who should be the highest priority for VOMC to help? Should priority be set based on need (the original letter writter's suggestion), proximity or some other criteria. I think a better case can be made for basing how we give to on the greatest need than any other of the options. What do you think scripture says about this?

I'm not happy to ever see persecution because of the suffering it causes but I think it probably is one of the best things that could happen to the church in Canada!

Glenn Penner said...


I address the issue of what the Bible says in my blog "Understanding Persecution Better". I agree that priority has to be the condition; we have to decide what kind of persecution requires VOMC's direct involvement. We simply cannot do everything