Christophobia: The Real Reason Behind Hate Crime Legislation By Tristan Emmanuel, with a foreword by Link Byfield. Christian Freedom Press (Canada) Inc., $15.99, 112 pages.Reviewed by Royal Hamel
The Interim

Tristan Emmanuel has done Canadians a great service by producing this compact primer on hate crime legislation. Specifically, the book zeroes in on the details and ramifications of Bill C-250, which seeks to add “sexual orientation” to the Criminal Code of Canada. Emmanuel analyzes Svend Robinson’s private member’s bill, questions the need for it and concludes that it is a serious attack on freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Along the way, the author touches on the desperate need for Christian activism, challenges Christians to cease communicating defensively, and trumpets that Canadians need to rise up from our slumbers before we totally lose our freedom of expression in Canada.

As a Presbyterian pastor and Christian activist, the author is a decisive man who is not inclined to mince words. Emmanuel concedes his book was not written “for the faint of heart.” He makes no apology for being politically incorrect and even admits that the book might, in places, sound harsh. This deft little book is fast paced and written in a conversational, easy-to-read style that avoids being pedantic. In short, it was written for the average Canadian, who will doubtless find it informative and a stirring call to action.

Emmanuel knows that Christian activism is not viewed favorably by many of the pious in Canada. Therefore, he takes time in the early chapters to show that a piety that is not concerned with the larger society is a piety that is fundamentally lacking. Specifically, he insists that Christians have a duty to judge, to discern, to evaluate and to discriminate between that which is good and that which is evil. He maintains that indifference by Christians to perverse behaviour that harms the larger society, both present and future, is not love at all, but borders on hatred of our fellow humans.

In a particularly well-researched section of the book, the author delves into the question of whether or not the Criminal Code of Canada as it stands is adequate to protect homosexuals against so called “hate crime.” Emmanuel analyzes three different sections of the code and concludes that it already has all the necessary tools to protect homosexuals against crimes of hate.

Gay apologists continually claim that there is an unreported epidemic of hate crime against members of their community. The author tackles this contention head on by analyzing statistics from various police departments and by examining just how law enforcement concludes whether or not a particular incident qualifies as a hate crime. His critique simply blows away the assertion that homosexuals qualify as a persecuted minority in Canadian society. He also exposes that the way the police delimit such crime is seriously flawed, at least in part because of their dependence on the testimony of the “victim.”

In the closing portion of his book, Emmanuel explores the term “Christophobia” and how it has informed his views on hate crime legislation. He concludes that while there are a number of factors driving legislation of this kind, one of the most basic factors is a “thoughtless and irrational reaction to Christians, Christianity and Christian teaching.” He points out that the moral absolutism of Christianity is totally at odds with moral relativism, the reigning philosophy of our age. His implicit conclusion is that people with an animus toward Christian absolutist values exhibit such hostility precisely because their moral relativism brings them into conflict with eternal Christian values. On a personal note, one could wish that Emmanuel had done a more thorough job of developing his assertions for “Christophobia” as being a key factor behind hate speech legislation, given that he chose to use the term in the title of his book.

In an interesting chapter entitled, “Stop Being Defensive,” the author takes careful aim at the common practice among Christians of issuing disclaimers whenever they critique homosexuality. Emmanuel does not approve, for instance, of disavowing hatred by saying, “While I may not morally agree with the homosexual lifestyle, I certainly do not hate them as persons.” He maintains that such “defensiveness” is unnecessary, plays into the hands of the other side, is a concession to political correctness, and is not helpful in advancing our cause in the culture war. While I endorse strongly most everything in this excellent book, I must confess that I see this point of view as misguided. Simply put, we must deal with the reality that gays and lesbians have succeeded in convincing the population that they are victims of ongoing hatred. It’s not true, of course, but perception is just as important as reality. Millions of moderate people who are not on one side or the other of this question must hear Christians renounce hatred for homosexual people. In the present cultural and political context, silence on this point simply gives fodder for gay apologists to use against us. But, sincere disclaimers must be given not only for pragmatic reasons, but also because we must not allow the Gospel itself to be slandered by leaving the impression that it allows anyone to harbour hatred.