John Jalsevac
Special to The Interim

As Presbyterian minister Tristan Emmanuel handed Chris Kempling a check for $18,000, with a promise for $32,000 more to come before the year is through, he encouraged the beleaguered B.C. school teacher, saying, “Chris, I want you to realize that God has not forsaken you. God does not forsake his people.”

With that, he pointed out to the large candlelit room, packed with hundreds of Kempling’s many supporters, who had each paid $100 for the chance to attend the dinner.

The occasion was the annual Equipping Christians for the Public Square (ECP) fundraising dinner. True to the mission of the ECP, the dollars raised at the annual event don’t go towards ECP itself, but each year are donated to a different individual Christian involved in the public square who is in dire need of help. Last year’s proceeds assisted Christian printer Scott Brockie, who faced, and ultimately lost, an expensive trial with the Ontario Human Rights Commission for refusing a print job from a gay activist organization.

Chris Kempling, the recipient of this year’s proceeds, recently lost his second appeal with the British Columbia Court of Appeals after having his teaching licence suspended for writing letters to the editor outlining his Christian beliefs regarding same-sex “marriage.”

“I think it’s extremely important that freedom of religion and freedom of speech be argued at the highest court in the land,” said Kempling about his plans to pursue the issue all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada. “We can’t let this decision stand, or at least go unchallenged, that makes it impossible for people of faith to speak their minds in the public square.”

Such persistence, in the face of what Emmanuel earlier labelled a “hostile regime,” isn’t without cost. Besides the estimated $500,000 in legal fees, Kempling lamented that, “It has been hard on my marriage, it’s been hard on my wife and it’s been difficult for my children.

“But I won’t give up,” he said. “The children of this nation should not be sold a pack of lies and that’s exactly what the gay lobby is trying to sell them. And I won’t put up with it. And that’s why I refuse to be quiet.”

As he stepped down from the podium after a brief five-minute speech, the humble, abstracted and soft-spoken elementary school teacher was given a standing ovation.

Stephen Bennett, the main speaker of the evening and a recovered homosexual now happily married to his wife for 12 years, affirmed Kempling in his Christian beliefs about homosexuality.

“I am one of thousands of men and women who have come out of the gay lifestyle,” he said, after recounting the turbulent history of his life. “But the media and other people, gay activists, don’t want you to hear that. You know why? Because the entire gay agenda is built on a faulty, sinking foundation. Two pillars: number one, that you are born gay. And number two, that you can’t change. I am living proof that both of those are faulty and wrong.”

Bennett encouraged the ECP and all Christians to continue to fight same-sex “marriage.” “When you start to compromise,” he said, “you cannot stop that freight train.”

Emmanuel, the founder and executive director of ECP, encouraged those present to make their voices heard in the public square. “There is no dichotomy between faithfulness to the Gospel and faithful civic responsibility,” he said.

“It’s not about thrusting our political agenda on anyone. If Canada is going to be a vibrant democracy and a pluralistic society, that must include evangelical, Roman Catholic and Orthodox believers.”