Fundamental Freedoms

29 Apr 2020 Holding Church in your Car? Not in Ontario!

This past Sunday, April 26th a small congregation met in the lazy little town of Aylmer, Ontario for worship. That sentence wouldn’t normally invite much commentary – in fact you might think it was the beginning of a novel. It might surprise you to know, however, that this was big news. COVID-19 has changed the landscape of worship in our country for the last 7 or so weeks – and rightly so. Glancing over the headlines of major newspapers, you might think this congregation packed the building, shook hands, hugged, sang...

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24 Apr 2020 British Columbia shows restraint in COVID-19 response

ARPA as an organization talks about sphere sovereignty a lot. Sphere sovereignty, famously articulated by Abraham Kuyper, implies that there are many spheres of authority in society, such as the state, the church, and the family. Each of these spheres has different God-given responsibilities, jurisdictions, and means of accomplishing their tasks. Reformed Christians often criticize the state for encroaching on the sovereignty of other spheres in society. We also frequently mention the rule of law. The rule of law implies the government’s powers are limited to those granted to it by...

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08 Apr 2020 Is Corporate Worship “Essential”? Some Biblical Considerations for the Church’s Response.

Essential services are a hot topic right now, as everyone wonders whether their place of employment or job description qualifies as “essential” under COVID-19 restrictions. Essential services include the obvious: nurses and doctors, fire fighters, grocery stores, child protective services, police officers. But they extend far beyond that, even including liquor and recreational cannabis stores. The result is that some businesses with hundreds of employees continue to operate with minimal oversight, while others have closed despite there being measures they could easily take to mitigate risk. Churches are not on the...

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31 Mar 2020 Letter to Government Officials – hope and humility

The following letter was sent by ARPA Canada to Canada's federal and provincial government officials, encouraging them to find their hope and direction in our sovereign God. We ask you to join us in praying for a blessing on this letter, and invite you to reach out to them to encourage them and, if the opportunity allows, to lovingly point to their responsibility to govern faithfully, in obedience to the One who gave them their authority. A meeting, including through electronic means, would be an ideal way to communicate this...

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27 Mar 2020 A Tale of Two Pandemics

Every day, COVID-19 numbers make top headlines. So, you probably have some idea of the numbers in Canada. As of today: Total people tested: >175,000 (most tests are negative or results pending) Total cases (confirmed or presumptive): ~4,700 (there are likely many more unknown cases) Total COVID-related deaths: 55 Meanwhile, since Canada legalized euthanasia in June 2016, medical practitioners have deliberately killed over 14,000 patients, with legal approval and public funding. And the rate of euthanasia deaths is accelerating. From June to December of 2016, about 1,000 people were killed. But...

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14 Feb 2020 A breach in Wall:  New court ruling casts shadow on church independence

In 2018, we told you about a Supreme Court case called Wall v Highwood Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses. In that case, Mr. Wall took a Jehovah’s Witnesses Congregation to court for “disfellowshipping” him. Mr. Wall succeeded in the lower courts, but lost his case at the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC). The SCC decided unanimously that civil judges have no business reviewing a religious body’s decision to expel a member where no legal right is at stake. That case raised the fundamental issue of churches’ freedom to govern themselves, particularly in...

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18 Dec 2019 Edmonton ‘conversion therapy’ bylaw could penalize churches

Last week, Edmonton City Council officially banned “conversion therapy”. The decision was swift and unanimous. The practice and promotion of conversion therapy is prohibited within city limits. Disobedience is costly. The bylaw carries a minimum $10,000.00 fine. The bylaw prohibits any “technique”, “service”, “treatment” or “tactic” aimed at “eliminating or reducing sexual attraction or sexual behaviour between persons of the same sex” or intended to alter a person’s “sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or gender preference.” It applies to “businesses” broadly defined (any “profession, trade, occupation, calling, or employment” or...

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29 Nov 2019 What’s going on with Bill 207, Alberta’s conscience rights bill?

    *UPDATE (added Dec. 5): On Monday, December 2, while MLA Dan Williams was speaking on Bill 207, a tragic incident occurred outside the Assembly, which then adjourned. Consequently, Bill 207 was delayed. It will likely be revisited in February 2020, once the legislature resumes. Last week, an Alberta legislative committee voted against Bill 207.  So, is Bill 207 dead? Not quite. Ordinarily, a bill gets debated in the Assembly at second reading. Then, if it passes the “second reading vote”, it goes to an appropriate committee for closer study, where amendments are often...

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20 Nov 2019 Dispelling myths about Alberta’s conscience rights bill

    Bill 207, tabled by Alberta MLA Dan Williams, now faces fierce opposition. The bill proposes protections for health care providers’ freedom of conscience. It is scheduled for a vote at second reading on Monday, November 25. It deserves to pass and proceed to committee for further review and possible improvements.   Bill 207 does not threaten access to health care The primary line of attack is that Bill 207 threatens “access to health care”. “Imagine … a patient being denied access to a therapeutic abortion even if the woman’s life is in danger,”...

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07 Nov 2019 New Alberta bill offers robust protections for freedom of conscience

      We have encouraging news. Dan Williams, MLA for Peace River, Alberta, tabled a bill today that would protect both individual health care providers and health care facilities from being required to provide services that conflict with their religious beliefs, conscientious beliefs, ethical judgment, or cultural traditions. One of the bill’s stated purposes is to provide certainty to health care providers and religious health care organizations with respect to exercising their Charter-protected freedoms of conscience and religion. This is greatly needed in a time when both individual providers and religious health care...

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