Full, frontal attacks on freedoms of speech and religion in Canada continue unabated. On Nov. 8, Kevin Bourassa and Joe Varnell, a Toronto homosexual couple who sued the Ontario government seeking legal approval of same-sex marriage, spoke to an audience of Dalhousie University law students in Halifax about their legal battle.

They also exploited this platform as an opportunity to attack popular Nova Scotia fiddler and recording artist Natalie MacMaster, the Catholic Church, and orthodox Christianity in general, which Mr. Bourassa implicitly dismissed as “a faith-based, bigoted perspective.”

According to a front-page story in the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, Bourassa also warned the Nova Scotia government against using MacMaster in its tourism promotions, suggesting that they “ought to be very cautious about that kind of a figure.”

MacMaster, a devout Roman Catholic, outraged gay rights advocates last summer in a nationally published interview from World Youth Day in Toronto, in which she defended the Catholic Church’s opposition to homosexual activity. She affirmed her Catholic faith to the reporter, commenting: “I’m Catholic in every way. It’s how I conduct my life. I base everything on God and the principles I learned from my Catholic upbringing.”

MacMaster elaborated, describing the Bible as her favorite book, that those principles mean no sex before marriage, regular attendance at Mass, a strict anti-abortion stance, and defence of the church’s opposition to homosexuality and the ordination of women. “Human beings make up the church and human beings are fallible,” she concluded, “but the Church and her teachings, I believe, are perfect and are right and that’s the important thing.”

“The real crime isn’t Natalie,” Bourassa is quoted saying. “The real crime is the leaders who poisoned her and twisted her faith to the point where she can be abusive in a most un-Christian manner to others simply because they’re not like her.”

The poisoners and twisters Bourassa refers to are presumably the Pope and his predecessors on the throne of St. Peter, the compilers of the Catholic Catechism, and various authors of the Bible in both Testaments, to name just a few, all of whom express moral opposition to any sort of genital sexual activity outside of legal marriage between opposite-sex individuals. The alleged “poisoned” and “twisted” faith is the faith that the Christian Church (not just Catholics) has affirmed for 2,000 years.

Bourassa apparently presumes that he is better qualified to judge what is “un-Christian” or not than the Pope and all the doctors and fathers of the Church for two millennia.

“But we do believe people can change and … if they really think more seriously and speak from an educated perspective – rather than a faith-based, bigoted perspective – that they can overcome that,” Bourassa continued, suggesting that Roman Catholics are entitled to their views but should keep them at home or in church.

The problems with these assertions, and they are manifold, include the unsupported implication that a perspective based on traditional Christian belief – the worldview that established most of the great universities of Europe and North America – is “uneducated.” In the culture wars, one man’s education is another man’s invincible ignorance. Some of us believe that faithful adherence to the traditional doctrines and teachings of the Christian faith is the epitome of spiritual education. As the Good Book says, “Fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.”

Even more egregious is the assertion that freedoms of religion and expression, at least for Christians, should end at the doors of one’s home or church. If that’s all Canada’s constitutional guarantees of free speech and religion pertain to, then they’re not worth the parchment they’re written on. Unless society is to indulge in more aggressive forms of “re-education,” like active brainwashing, freedom of private belief is moot.

Varnell is cited by the Chronicle-Herald as saying, presumably with a straight face, that Canadians “will not put up with intolerance.” One has to smile, painfully.

I’m not complaining about Bourassa and Varnell’s right to speak their minds on these issues, which they are certainly free to exercise. Voltaire’s Dictum and all that. What gives me the creeps is that the speech-chilling, freedom-stomping message they advocate is getting an increasingly sympathetic and uncritical hearing, not least in the corridors of power.

What they are demanding is nothing less than that the Christian faith, which inspired and built this civilization that is taken much too much for granted these days, be muzzled and driven behind closed doors, relegated to the status of a fringe pariah religion.

But as Kierkegaard noted: “Whoever has not the humble courage to dare to believe (the Gospel), must be offended by it … and at last cannot be contented with less than getting this thing rooted out, annihilated, and trodden in the dust.”