Church Tag

14 Mar 2018 Who holds the keys to the kingdom of heaven? Part 1 of 3

An ARPA Three-Part series on Church and State in Canada By John Sikkema and André Schutten The back story… A few years ago, a man named Randy Wall was “disfellowshipped” from the Highwood Congregation of Jehovah Witnesses in Calgary. The elders deemed Wall “insufficiently repentant” for drunkenness and verbal abuse of his wife. Mr. Wall didn’t think this was fair. Wall was a real estate agent and about half of Wall’s customers were Witnesses. But after he was disfellowshipped, they refused to do business with him. So he took the Congregation to court,...

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07 Nov 2017 Update: ARPA Canada asks Justice Committee to keep explicit protection for worship services

**UPDATE: The Justice Committee decided to leave section 176 alone after receiving overwhelming response from the public and our supporters. We are very thankful for this development.** The Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights is currently studying Bill C-51. This bill is meant to clean up Canada’s Criminal Code by removing outdated, unconstitutional, and redundant provisions. Much of the discussion of the Committee has been on one particular provision – clause 14 of the Bill proposes to remove section 176 of the Criminal Code. That section prohibits obstructing a religious...

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07 Nov 2017 LN Feature: The Supreme Court as Reformed Synod?

ARPA Canada lawyer, John Sikkema ARPA lawyer John Sikkema appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada last week, making arguments as an intervener in the so-called "Wall" case. That's the one where the Supreme Court has been asked whether secular courts have authority to intervene in matters of ecclesiastical discipline. The arguments are being heard in the context of the "disfellowshipping" of a member of a Jehovah's Witness congregation in Calgary. ARPA had been accepted as an intervener in the case, and filed written arguments earlier this fall. The issue was highlighted during the...

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07 Nov 2017 Do worship services deserve special protection in law?

ARPA's Director of Law and Policy, André Schutten ARPA's Director of Law and Policy, André Schutten, appeared before Parliament's Justice Committee last week, arguing against a change to the Criminal Code. As part of a new law called Bill C-51, the government wants to remove a section of the Criminal Code that expressly prohibits anyone from interfering with a religious service that's in progress, and also protects members of the clergy from being harassed or interfered with on their way to or from a religious service.  The government argues that this kind...

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10 Oct 2017 Wall Case

ARPA Canada lawyer, John Sikkema ARPA lawyer John Sikkema has delivered the final paperwork to the Supreme Court of Canada in the "Wall Case". That's the case involving a Jehovah's Witness congregant who wants the courts to overturn his dis-fellowshipping - essentially his excommunication - from a JW congregation near Edmonton. Sikkema says the complainant is arguing that being a member in a church is essentially “contractual”, and that courts are empowered to enforce contracts. Mr. Wall, Sikkema says, “expected (that) in return for participating in church (he would be) treated...

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05 Sep 2017 Supreme Court Appearances

ARPA's Director of Law and Policy, André Schutten ARPA has two appearances coming before the Supreme Court of Canada between now and the end of the year. Late last month, we were granted formal "intervenor status" in what is known as the "Wall case". This case involves a Jehovah's Witness congregation in Alberta that dis-fellowshipped - essentially excommunicated - one of its members. ARPA's Director of Law and Policy, André Schutten, says the case sets boundaries around the authority of the state when it comes to church matters. André says the...

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29 Aug 2017 ARPA at the Supreme Court: Wall v Jehovah’s Witnesses Congregation

ARPA Canada will intervene in Judicial Committee of the Highwood Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses et al v Randy Wall at the Supreme Court of Canada on November 2. UPDATE (Oct 4/17): see our written submissions to the Supreme Court here and our oral arguments here . Background of the Case Randy Wall was expelled – or disfellowshipped – from the Highwood Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses in 2014. The expulsion originated out of two instances of drunkenness and verbal abuse of his wife after which he failed to demonstrate repentance. As a result, Wall experienced a loss of...

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25 Jul 2017 Calgary MP launches petition to save Criminal Code clause protecting worship services from protests and disruptions

Tom Kmiec, MP A Calgary MP has launched an official House of Commons e-Petition on Bill C-51. That's the law we told you about earlier this summer on Lighthouse News. It would specifically repeal Section 176 of the Criminal Code, which makes it a crime to disrupt any worship service, or to assault or prevent anyone from conducting such a service. Conservative MP Tom Kmiec isn't buying the various arguments the government is using to defend the new law. The government says the issue is already covered in prohibitions against causing a...

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13 Jul 2017 A Cautionary Tale: The Failure of the German Church to Oppose Nazism

By Colin Postma Over the past few months, ARPA staff have been discussing Eric Metaxas’ book “Bonhoeffer – Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy,” as part of our weekly staff calls. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German pastor who is remembered for his opposition to the Nazis in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s. He was executed in a concentration camp in April 1945, just days before Hitler committed suicide and the war came to an end. Lutheran Bishop Ludwig Muller, leader of the Reich Church, greets Hitler One of the most striking things about entering...

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27 Jun 2017 LN Feature: Disrupting Church Services

ARPA's Director of Law and Policy, André Schutten As we told you a few months ago on Lighthouse News, the federal government is making a move to eliminate so-called “zombie laws”. These are essentially old laws which are no longer in effect. The most common reason for their obsolescence is that they’ve been struck down by the court. While those laws are technically still on the books, they have become unenforceable, so they need to be removed to reflect that reality. But earlier this month, the federal Liberals introduced a second...

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