Analysis by Tim Bloedow
The Interim

A recent ruling in an Ontario Human Rights Tribunal case has produced one of the most explicit statements to date from a government agency relegating Christianity exclusively to the private sphere of life, banning its use as a legitimate defence for behaviour deemed unacceptable by the establishment.

The case involved a complaint of discrimination taken to the Ontario Human Rights Commission by homosexual activist Raymond Brillinger against Toronto-area Christian businessman, Scott Brockie. (The OHRC is headed by a Mike Harris appointee, the openly homosexual Keith Norton.) Mr. Brockie, who works in a family-owned printing company, refused to accept a job from the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives in April 1996 because it would have assisted them in their homosexual advocacy work. Heather MacNaughton, the sole adjudicator in the case, decided against Mr. Brockie, demanding an apology to the Archives and the payment of a $5,000 fine.

In her astonishing ruling, Ms. MacNaughton wrote that “Brockie remains free to hold his religious beliefs and to practice them in his home, and in his Christian community. He is free to espouse those beliefs and to educate others as to them. He remains free to try to persuade elected representatives … that the [Human Rights Code] protections currently granted to the lesbian and gay community, are wrong. What he is not free to do, when he enters the public marketplace and offers services to the public in Ontario, is to practice those beliefs in a manner that discriminates against lesbians and gays by denying them a service available to everyone else.”

Since the Canadian constitution guarantees freedom of religion, the ruling, in effect, establishes homosexuality as a distinct religion, and one which deserves greater protection than Christianity when the two faith systems collide.

Though disappointed at the ruling, Mr. Brockie lost faith in the legitimacy of Ontario’s “human rights” tribunal a long time ago, so he was not surprised. He and his lawyer were already making plans to appeal the decision, which would take it into the legitimate court system. In a real court, Mr. Brockie will be able to appeal to the standards of evidence and due process which the human rights tribunals are free to ignore.

A legal defence fund has been set up so that people can help support Mr. Brockie, but donations so far have only covered about half his expenses, which have climbed well above $10,000. He is, however, continuing his battle. Unapologetic, he told the National Post: “I didn’t discriminate against the person. I discriminated against the philosophy, the lifestyle, the cause. I’m not prepared to compromise my beliefs for the sake of a printing job.”

The ruling against Mr. Brockie is particularly disturbing because there is no legal basis for it – the work he performs is not an essential service.

Ms. MacNaughton’s ruling has more people talking about a time when it may be a criminal offense for clergy to denounce homosexuality from their pulpits as well as for Christians in general to speak out against it. Mr. Brockie’s brother-in-law, Rev. Matt Kingswood, is the pastor of Russel Reformed Presbyterian Church near Ottawa. He told The Interim that “the fog of ‘tolerance’ and ‘correctness’ is lifting in cases such as this to reveal the abiding and radical antithesis between biblical Christianity and all other world views,” and that, as a result, “if the present course continues, Christianity and the Bible may become illegal in our land, as it is in others around the world today.”

Rev. Kingswood commends Mr. Brockie, saying that he “is following in the footsteps of people like Mordecai, Daniel, Peter and John who boldly declared, ‘We must obey God rather than men.'” The pastor cited Abraham Kuyper, Holland’s Christian Prime Minister at the turn of the last century: “When principles that run against your deepest convictions begin to win the day, then battle is your calling, and peace has become your sin.”