Saturday, May 22, 2010

Imperfect Justice

This article by Don Hutchinson is much food for thought. It is a piece of writing that reflects upon the ambiguity and unhelpful legal 'remedy' handed down by the Ontario courts over the Heintz vs 'Christian Horizons' case. I first know about Christian Horizons through a friend back in 2008. It is a ministry that reaches out to help people with 'exceptional needs,' such as learning disabilities, autism, and various challenges that impact people's ability to keep up with society at large. Serving more than 1500 families in Ontario, and many more beyond, the organization has won government support for their charitable goals and results. It is openly Christian, and expects anyone working for the organization to understand that their core value is:

"We will honour God and value people in all we do and with all of our resources."

Now lies the problem. What about people who work in CH do not subscribe to this core value? The example of Connie Heintz presents such a dilemma.

  • Heintz is said to have 'violated' the stated morality and lifestyle requirement with the employment agreement with Christian Horizons. She was laid off. Not wanting to take it lying down, she sued CH.
  • Christian Horizons argues that Heintz at the time of employment, signed the contract knowing about such a lifestyle code. 
  • Unfortunately, in the court ruling, the justice department fails to offer helpful guidelines for anybody.
  • This latest reflection repeats this case with a stronger tone, that the law courts have sliced the baby into half and left no winners.
This is precisely the problem in Canada. While one seeks to allow every one to practice their types of belief, how one practices is determined by how many tails are being stepped, and how vocal one becomes. There is even a lack of understanding what true justice or true freedom, or true freedom of religion actually means. 

For the case of Christian Horizons, it seems like it is no longer enough to state upfront one's faith and to practice one's belief in the public arena. In secular societies, the law seems to favor a secularism that is devoid of all religious references. One is immediately under the mercy of people fighting for 'freedom' to behave and to believe in whatever they want. 

I feel troubled because it is something rather unhelpful for organizations that try to help society and the underprivileged. Come on. Christian Horizons was set up based on a desire to help fellow people. The name 'Christian' should have made it clear that it does not try to deceive the public about its religious convictions. If anyone disagrees, why not set up your own organization called "Gay Horizons," or "Absolute Freedom Horizons," or "Anything Goes Horizons," etc.

My advice to Heintz: Take your fight elsewhere. Christian Horizons, or for that matter, people who disagree with your lifestyle is not your enemy. Will you prefer CH to be dishonest with themselves, and to keep you on payroll against their deepest beliefs? Worse, if you have signed the lifestyle agreement willingly, you should have the integrity to resign in the first place, when your lifestyle no longer meets the standard you agreed. This is not about human rights. It is an issue of integrity, not rights.

Hutchison's article should help us appreciate that the latest court ruling only adds to the confusion.


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