It was billed as legislation to ban so-called conversion therapy in Canada. Instead, the language is overly broad to the point where it could make preaching the basic tenets of sexual morality laid out in the Bible illegal in the country.
That’s why, according to Fox News, more than 4,000 preachers in North America devoted their sermons Sunday to the perfidious influence that Bill C-4 might have on the freedom of religion.
Of course, attacks like this are nothing new — although Bill C-4 is particularly pernicious. Nevertheless, we’ve seen plenty of attacks on the pulpit in the name of tolerance over the past few years, and it’s only going to get worse. Here at The Western Journal, we’re dedicated to providing news and opinion from a biblical perspective — and we’re going to fight back when our basic freedoms are attacked. You can help us in our fight by subscribing.
Bill C-4 was fast-tracked through the Canadian Parliament without much debate last month and went into effect Jan. 8. According to Canada’s CTV, the bill “includes wider-reaching vocabulary of what constitutes conversion therapy than what the federal government attempted to pass in the last Parliament, and expands beyond the past proposal which focused on outlawing the use of the practice against children and non-consenting adults.”
CTV’s Dec. 7 report neatly describes what proponents of the bill say they’re banning: “Conversion ‘therapy,’ as it has been called, seeks to change a person’s sexual orientation to heterosexual or gender identity to cisgender. It can include seeking to repress someone’s non-heterosexual attraction, or repressing a person’s gender expression or non-cis gender identity.”
To put it another way: If someone is gay, lesbian or bisexual or experiencing gender dysphoria, there are controversial — almost always religious-based — programs that seek to disabuse them of these tendencies. Those involved with running conversion therapy programs in Canada will now be subject to a five-year prison sentence under the law.
Bans on these programs are nothing new and exist in numerous states and jurisdictions in America. Whether it’s the government’s place to be outlawing such programs for consenting adults is a separate matter of debate, since this isn’t where Bill C-4 stops.
In the bill’s preamble, Bill C-4 says it’s a “myth that heterosexuality, cisgender gender identity, and gender expression that conforms to the sex assigned to a person at birth are to be preferred over other sexual orientations.”
This isn’t limited to any sort of governmental context; the bill deals with individuals and institutions, after all, particularly religious ones.
Furthermore, “conversion therapy” is defined very loosely. According to Fox News, Bill C-4 characterizes it as any kind of counseling designed to “repress or reduce non-heterosexual attraction or sexual behavior,” “repress a person’s non-cisgender gender identity” or “repress or reduce a person’s gender expression that does not conform to the sex assigned to the person at birth.”
“This piece of legislation is by far the most direct attack we’ve seen on freedom of expression and freedom of conscience and religion,” Marty Moore, an attorney for the Calgary-based Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, told Fox News.
He said the violations to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and its protections for religious liberty “are very concerning.”
For instance, take a religious figure who says, based on the tenets of his or her respective holy texts, that sex should be reserved for a monogamous married couple that consists of a man and a woman.
“The teaching and the propagation of those faiths, if it comes into contact with an LGBTQ person, regardless of whether that LGBTQ person is seeking that counseling or not, the propagation and teaching and dissemination of those faiths run the risk of being classified as conversion therapy,” Moore said.
That’s why thousands of Christian pastors in North America — as part of a movement organized by Liberty Coalition Canada and prominent California pastor John MacArthur — said they were willing to protest Bill C-4 in their sermons.
MacArthur said the bill was part of a culture normalizing sexual immorality and cracking down on those who speak up for traditional biblical values.
“Ultimately, the dissenters, the ones who will not cave in, are going to be those who are faithful to the Bible,” he told Fox News. “And that’s what’s already leading to laws made against doing what we are commanded to do in Scripture, which is to confront that sin. And that’s just going to escalate.
“The fact that they identified it as a criminal conduct that could give you as much as five years in prison takes it to a completely different level, because Canadian pastors have been put in jail for just having church services.”
That’s another reason that Bill C-4 is ominous: Canadian authorities jailed numerous pastors who held services during the country’s pandemic lockdowns.
Pastor James Coates, the first preacher to get thrown behind bars, spent a month in a maximum-security prison — something clearly commensurate with the “crime” of holding in-person church services.
Coates told Fox News that Bill C-4 is “anything but loving,” given that it aims to “shut the LGBT community off from the saving and transforming message of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
“I believe our government is capitalizing on a politically expedient segment of its constituency in an effort to further dismantle Western civilization as we know it,” he said. “To do this, it must outlaw its very foundation, which is rooted in a Judeo-Christian worldview. Bill C-4 is another brick laid in this effort and is evidence that our government is under the judgment of God.”
Pastor Artur Pawlowski of Calgary was arrested numerous times in dramatic raids by authorities. At one point, a court even demanded that he recite a script about COVID-19 and vaccination before his sermons that contradicted his teachings. (This was struck down by an appeals court.)
Bill C-4, the refugee from European communism said, was “straight from Soviet Russia.”
“Nothing new under the sun,” Pawlowski told Fox News. “I lived in a country that implemented laws like that.”
“The government was telling you what you can and cannot say,” he said, adding, “I will always preach the whole Bible. … If someone comes to me asking for help, for therapy, I want the government and everybody else to know I’ll never turn that individual away. And if it costs me, so be it. But every hurting person who is asking me for help, I’ll not turn away.”
If these pastors are furious, they have every reason to be. A country that raids churches and jails pastors in maximum-security prisons to make a point about who’s in charge when it comes to religious freedoms under the pandemic won’t shy away from raiding churches and jailing pastors to make a point about who’s in charge when it comes to religious freedoms regarding sexual morality.
And yet, the Bible remains as written — and not just about sexual immorality but all sin.
Isaiah 5:20 says, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!“
Governments may sit in judgment of those who call good and evil what they are, but they cannot escape the judgment reserved for them.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.