Religious Freedom in Canada – IMPORTANT Update

I joined 1,200 registrants from across Canada recently for a 3-hour conference on the subject of religious freedom in Canada and Bill C-6 in particular. The Canadian Religious Freedom Summit was convened and facilitated by the Metropolitan Bible Church, Ottawa, with the gracious help of the Summit’s sponsors. The sponsors alone were impressive: The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (of which we are a member church); Canadian Centre for Christian Charities (of which we are a member church); The Gospel Coalition (Canada), to name a few. 
The keynote speakers included: André Schutten (Director of Law and Policy, Association for Reformed Political Action); Deacon Andrew Bennett (Program Director, CRFI & Faith Community Engagement, Cardus) ; Deina Warren (Associate Director of Legal Affairs, Canadian Centre for Christian Charities); Julia Beazley (Director of Public Policy, The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada); Jojo Ruba (Executive Director, Faith Beyond Belief); Jonathan Griffiths (Lead Pastor, Metropolitan Bible Church, Ottawa) and Derek B.M. Ross (Executive Director & General Counsel, Christian Legal Fellowship)

Here are four things you can do as a Christian to respond to this crisis of law underway in Ottawa:

1. Educate yourself


Make it your aim to know the important issues that your fellow Canadians are facing. Read broadly and wisely from sources that will equip you with accurate data on current events that matter to you. Avoid the bullet point impulse that leaves us with half-truths and whole-lies. Test what you hear. I’ve included two links from the Gospel Coalition and the National Post to get you started.

2. Prepare yourself


There was a moment during the conference that it all became very surreal. Has life in Canada come to the point where the state is actually threatening to criminalize the exercise of my conscience in matters of Biblical conviction? As Pastor Jonathan Griffiths observed in his opening remarks of the conference, one cannot engage the teaching of the Bible without embracing the sexual ethics of the Bible. Eventually the Bible clashes with the culture. When I wrote to my MP, Mr. Gagan Sikand, Mississauga-Streetsville, about my concerns: here is the response I received:

“Conversion therapy is a practice that targets vulnerable LGBTQ2 Canadians in an attempt to change their sexual orientation or gender identity, and can lead to life-long trauma. It is rooted in the belief that sexual orientation or gender identity can and should be changed to fit a narrow idea of what is ‘normal’ or ‘natural’. There is international consensus in the medical community that conversion therapy is harmful and ineffective. Conversion therapy reflects myths and stereotypes about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and Two-Spirit (LGBTQ2) persons, in particular that sexual orientations other than heterosexual and gender identities other than cisgender can and should be changed. Accordingly, conversion therapy causes social harm by stigmatizing these persons, harming their dignity and negatively impacting their equality rights. Discussions that explore identity are not considered to be conversion therapy, and are not targeted by this bill. However, there is a difference between exploring someone’s identity and telling them that who they are is wrong and in need of fixing. Conversion therapy is about actively working or providing services designed to change who someone is. That is what our Government is targeting in this legislation.”

Do you see the flaw? “Conversion therapy” is universally linked with all dissenting opinions about human sexuality. Do you see the problem? Arguing anything but a wholesale acceptance of the definition of human personality and sexuality is the same as conversion therapy. It’s a low blow. The Bible is prescriptive in its diagnosis of human behaviour and sexuality. What the Bible calls “natural and normal” the culture deems “narrow.” The Bible details a myriad of ways that we all are in “need of fixing.” Notice how the definition of identity is being seized by legislators while claiming that no one has a right to disagree with their views without being abusive in doing so. (I doubt that I’ve ever heard such conflated double talk).

Again, I need to remind you to “prepare your minds for action” as the apostle Peter urged. We are in a new day that does not allow for our traditional, conventional, historic, universal beliefs as taught in the Bible.


3. Express yourself


Opinions are divided among Christians about the legitimacy of political action from the Church. I have my own opinions. Suffice it to say that the Bible records numerous situations in which believing Jews and Christians participated in the political process. (They also spent vast amounts of time under duress by the governing authorities of their day). Even Paul refused to “go away quietly” when, as a Roman citizen, his personal rights and freedoms were violated (see Acts 16:37-40). Vote wisely and prayerfully. Contact your MPs and MPPs. Get involved. Their role is to serve the public. You are the public. Own your role.

I’ve not seen such an extensive and united coalition of Christian voices over any single item in my lifetime as a pastor. It’s both encouraging and ominous. Encouraging to see Christians of various stripes and colors speaking with one voice (and doing so in a classy way). Ominous because it suggests something very serious is about to go down in Ottawa.

4. Above all things, Pray & Trust the Lord.
I’ve already decided what my response will be to laws that potentially restrict the preaching of the ethics of Scripture. Have you? Pray that we may avoid such a clash with our governing authorities. Pray that God will have mercy on our country, named according to the words of Scripture; The DOMINION of Canada (Psalm 72). But if He wills us to enter a time of greater testing than we have ever known, pray that Christians will be faithful.
Praying with you and for you, church family,

Pastor Deric

Love Thy Neighbour

Hello Neighbor” (Fred Rogers)

Many of us remember those famous words from the humble yet wildly popular daytime children’s program called, “Mister Rogers Neighborhood.” The program aired for 31 seasons! (1979-2001 approx.) I mean no disrespect to Fred Rogers, but being a good neighbour is an idea that is as old as civilization itself. “Love thy neighbour” stands as a cornerstone teaching in both Judaism and Christianity, quoted by Moses and Jesus Christ. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that all major religions have this high ideal as a core tenet of their belief system (whether or not we achieve it, as we all hope, is another matter).

Fred Rogers captured the simplicity of Jesus’ teaching in one single reminder: you have to speak to your neighbour in order to be a good neighbour. It’s one of my beefs with living in Mississauga (any major city for that matter). People don’t speak to each other as much as one would hope. I’m a bit weary of the slogan “we’re all in this together” while, for the most part, neighbours don’t even acknowledge each other. It’s not uncommon to be out walking or jogging in my neighbourhood and observe most people staring at the ground rather than offering a smile or a “hello neighbour.” It’s too sad. Try greeting someone at Square One and they will either ignore you or look annoyed. Occasionally, someone smiles back. 


This teaching to “love thy neighbour” goes way beyond a simple “hello.” You have to make time to build relationships, and relationships begin by caring for others, as we have the opportunity to do so. Caring about others should be relatively easy for the Christian because we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit who pours God’s love into our hearts. Remember the simple order of the greatest commandment? “Love the Lord your God” and “love your neighbour as yourself.” The fuel for being a good neighbour is loving the Lord with all your life.

If the aim is to “love thy neighbour” in sincere relationship, I have to give you a simple warning. Relationships are greatly hindered when we label, judge or become argumentative over politics, religion and current events. Leave lots of room for your neighbours to feel safe in expressing their opinions in your presence.

Now to the hard part and the really high standard. The goal of being a good neighbour is to live as if Jesus is the one who lives in your house. Bold? Yes. Difficult? Yes. Intimidating? Yes, yes, yes. But the New Testament says that we are to live in this world as if we were Jesus, “because as He is so also are we in this world” (1 John 4:17). We are to walk as He walked, i.e., live our lives as He modeled. We are to love as He loves by being the kind of neighbour Jesus would be if He now lived in my neighbourhood.

We are blessed as Christians to have the Lord Jesus Himself elevate the core belief that we are to be good neighbours as He did. It makes perfect sense to me that one can’t really be a good neighbour and never talk about the subject of Jesus, who He is, what He came to do and the fact that He is coming back again (to name a few).

Church family, be the best neighbour you can be by sharing the good news that eternal life is promised by faith in the Son of God. Share the Gospel as God opens the door to your neighbour’s heart. “Love thy neighbour” as He loved you into salvation by faith.


Pastor Deric

P.S. I’m quite sure that ‘policing’ your neighbour is NOT advisable in loving your neighbour. The burden of enforcing a by-law is not meant, nor is it wise, to be placed on fellow citizens, especially in a non-military crisis.