Question: What happens when intolerant secular fundamentalists take charge of government programs?
Answer: Fewer underprivileged kids get to enjoy summer camps.
The question-and-answer above summarizes two court actions against the federal government, which have exposed anti-Christian bigotry in the awarding of Canada Summer Jobs grants.
Mill Stream Bible Camp, a 90-minute drive north-east of Toronto, welcomes all children to its summer Bible camps, where they enjoy swimming, archery, canoeing, basketball and other ways to experience fun, recreation and hope. The same goes for Mount Traber Bible Camp in Nova Scotia, aiming “to show the love of Jesus Christ to boys and girls in a wholesome and fun way in the great outdoors.” Both camps provide generous financial assistance to families unable to pay the regular registration costs. Therefore, many underprivileged children enjoy summer camps.
For many years, both camps received Canada Summer Jobs grants to hire university-aged students. These camps are charities that can only operate because of the voluntary donations, and the volunteer labour, of generous Canadians. Receiving Canada Summer Jobs grants creates extra room in the camps’ budgets, for things like accepting more underprivileged children to enjoy camp, in spite of their parents’ poverty.
In 2018, both camps were denied Canada Summer Jobs grants because they refused to check off an “attestation” expressing their agreement with Justin Trudeau’s belief that abortion is a Charter right.
After the Justice Centre and others fought court actions against this compelled speech, the federal government toned down its attestation for 2019. The Canada Summer Jobs program now requires that non-profits and businesses agree to refrain from “undermining or restricting the exercise of rights legally protected in Canada.” Mill Stream Bible Camp and Mount Traber Bible Camp could, in good conscience, agree with this rather vague attestation, and did so.
But the federal government found another way to prevent pro-life and religious organizations from receiving Canada Summer Job grants. With the direct involvement of Prime Minister Trudeau, the government created a plethora of new “ineligibility” criteria for the Canada Summer Jobs program.
In 2019 both camps were denied grants due to “controversial church doctrines” and “discriminatory” hiring practices based on church beliefs. The “controversial” beliefs are Christian teachings like: people are sinful and have separated themselves from a righteous and holy God; after death our immortal souls will spend all eternity in heaven with God or in hell apart from God; Jesus alone offers salvation; an authentic Christian lifestyle includes sexual purity.
A free society is supposed to tolerate authentic diversity, such that individuals and organizations can access government programs without holding to the “correct” metaphysical beliefs. The Charter requires the government to be neutral about metaphysical questions.
Demonstrating that our country is not truly free, the Canada Summer Jobs program has been used by the Trudeau government to punish Christian summer children’s camps, purely for failing to adhere to the “correct” beliefs about God, morality, eternity and sin. This deliberate exclusion of Christian ministries has been carried out in the name of “inclusion,” “diversity,” and “non-discrimination.”
“He who pays the piper calls the tune,” goes the old saying. This also holds true for government.
Many religious believers need to re-think their decades-old love affair with big government. From the 1930s through to the 1960s and beyond, Christians embraced, or at least did not oppose, the government’s gradual take-over of health care, education, and numerous social services and charitable activities that used to be operated primarily by religious groups. What started out as “free” money for religious charities has now turned into an aggressive intolerance of the very mission, character and purpose of these charities.
Christian schools, hospitals, orphanages, adoption agencies and summer camps foolishly became dependent on money coerced from citizens through high rates of taxation. And now governments violate fundamental Charter freedoms by distributing grant money based on the “correct” beliefs about life’s ultimate questions. A government that has the power to provide everything for you also has the power to take away everything from you. Were it not for big government, Christian summer camps would receive more donations from citizens, who would be able to donate more because they pay less tax. In a low-tax, small-government country, Christian charities could teach and promote the doctrines of their choice, without fearing government disapproval.
Lawyer John Carpay is president of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF.ca), which acts for Mount Traber Bible Camp and Mill Stream Bible Camp in their court actions against the federal government.