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!!!!!!!! Search error!  If the URL ends something like .htm/  or .htm# delete the character(s) after .htm and hit return.

"Religious freedom" changing from freedom of
religious beliefs
to
freedom to hate and discriminate

2011: Examples of the new meaning of "religious
freedom
:" attacks by believers on other groups

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This topic is a continuation from events in 2010

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Dispute over Ipod/Ipad apps:

On 2011-FEB-15, Exodus International -- the leading fundamentalist/evangelical Christian group promoting reparative therapy for those who want to become "ex-gay" had their free app listed in the Apple store. Reparative and conversion therapies have been rejected by all of the major mental health professional associations. It is only supported by a very small association, the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) and many fundamentalist and other evangelical religious groups.

After a petition to remove the app received over 154,000 signatures, Apple delisted the app on 2011-MAR-24. More details on the Ipad app controversy.

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Dispute over gay support groups and anti-homophobia programs in Ontario Catholic schools:

On 2011-JUL-04, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty said that both Catholic & public high schools in the province are to have gay support groups. Glen Murray MLA [Member of the provincial legislator] for Toronto Centre read a statement by Premier at Pride Toronto’s international marshals’ reception. It said:

"I am proud that effective this September, high school students who want their school to have a student support group for LGBT students will have one. This is not a matter of choice for school boards or principals. If students want it, they will have it. ... It’s one thing … to change a law, but it’s quite another to change an attitude. ... Attitudes are shaped by our life experiences and our understanding of the world. ... That should begin in the home and extend deep into our communities, including our schools." 1

McGuinty's letter is on a collision course with the Roman Catholic Church. The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith wrote in a 1986 "Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons" that:

"No authentic pastoral program will include organizations in which homosexual persons associate with each other without clearly stating that homosexual activity is immoral. ... We wish to make it clear that departure from the Church’s teaching, or silence about it, in an effort to provide pastoral care is neither caring nor pastoral. Only what is true can ultimately be pastoral. The neglect of the Church’s position prevents homosexual men and women from receiving the care they need and deserve." 1

In Ontario Canada, Roman Catholic "Separate" schools are fully funded by the government. No other religious school system receives funding. More details about the church/government/LGBT controversy.

During 2011-AUG, the Coptic Christian Church in Toronto threatened to have their 4,000 families pull their students from the Toronto Catholic schools because of the latter's proposed plan to acknowledge the need for anti-homophobia education and support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students.

According to ParentCentral.ca:

"Fr. Jeremiah Attaalla of the Ti Agia Maria and St. Demiana the Martyr Coptic Orthodox Church in Etobicoke [,ON] said his congregation is upset at the Toronto Catholic District School Board’s proposed inclusionary measures.

'In these young grades, we don’t want teachers talking about God creating Adam and Steve,' Attaalla said. 'It’s Adam and Eve.'

The Toronto Catholic board has proposed an Equity and Inclusive Education policy that is to be voted on at the end of August.

'The Board recognizes that any form of social or cultural discrimination is incompatible with Catholic moral principles and is in violation of the Ontario Human Rights Code,' reads a template of the policy.

This proposal stems from the firestorm over Catholic students demanding gay-straight alliance groups in schools across Ontario.

But Attaalla said the Coptic Church is vehemently opposed to any education about homosexuality. Attaalla wrote a letter on behalf of four Coptic churches in the city to the Toronto Catholic school board demanding that the teachings remain true to Catholicism.

'Our members do not want gay-straight alliance groups in our Catholic schools,' Attaalla said. 'We will pull our children from the Catholic schools if they go ahead with it'." 2

On 2011-AUG-08, Murray Whyte of The Toronto Star wrote:

"The president of the Canadian Egyptian Congress is urging parents to reject a call by a Coptic Orthodox priest to pull some 4,000 children out of the Catholic school system if it adopts a policy more accepting of homosexuality and religious difference.

The school board has proposed an Equity and Inclusive Education policy, to be voted on at the end of August, that softens some strictures of Catholic doctrine to fall more in line with provincial standards.

'The kids have friends, they have a place to go, and they would lose that,' Nazeer Bishay said Sunday. 'And besides, we don’t have enough schools for all of them. So we will lobby, we will pressure the board, we will keep up the fight. But we do not recommend withdrawal.' He and others in the Coptic Orthodox community plan to schedule a meeting with the Toronto Catholic District School Board to discuss their concerns." 3

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2011-DEC: Lawsuit over the introduction of civil unions in Hawaii:

During 2011-FEB, Governor Neil Abercrombie (D) fulfilled his campaign pledge by signing a civil union bill into law. This would grant to loving, committed same-sex couples many of the rights, privileges, and protections of marriage, without the most important right, which is to call their union a marriage.

On DEC-28, over 11 months later, only four days before civil union law was to be activated, when many same-sex couples were planning the solemnization of their civil union followed by a celebration by family and friends, an unexpected event occurred. Two fundamentalist Christian churches and their pastors filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court. They sought a ruling by the court that the civil unions bill was unconstitutional. They also asked for a permanent injunction that would prevent the law from ever being implemented.

The law had already guaranteed that they could refuse to solemnize civil unions for any and all same-sex who requested. But they wanted more: specifically the religious freedom to deny any requests by same-sex couples to rent the use of church buildings such as church halls for a reception or other purpose.

The churches lost. The Attorney General's office and the Federal District Court went into high gear. The government filed a brief on DEC-29, and the court issued a ruling on DEC-30 denying the churches' request. It is probable that none of the family and friends who were flying in from the U.S. mainland, or Asian countries had their travel plans interrupted as a result of the churches' action.

More details.

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This topic continues into 2012

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Patrick Craine, "Ontario Premier: Catholic schools have no choice but to accept gay clubs," Life Site News, 2011-JUL-04, at: http://www.lifesitenews.com/
  2. Liam Casey & Louise Brown, "Coptic Catholics threaten to withdraw students over gay policy," ParentCentral.ca, 2011-AUG-05, at: http://www.parentcentral.ca/
  3. Murray Whyte, "Canadian Egyptian Congress urges parents to reject call to pull kids from Catholic schools ," The Toronto Star, 2011-AUG-08, at: http://www.thestar.com/

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Copyright © 2011 & 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
Originally written: 2011-AUG-08
Latest update: 2012-JAN-07
Author: B.A. Robinson

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