A Christian, Persecuted

Several deep threads of irony lace the recent decision of the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal against Christian Horizons, a provider of services to people with developmental disorders.  The case involved a Christian lesbian named Connie Heintz, who left her job with this agency, and indeed was harassed out of it. Heintz found herself unable to comply with the agency’s employment contract — containing an explicitly evangelical Christian moral and religious agreement —  which essentially forbade her from engaging in homosexual activity.  Christian Horizons, which views itself as deeply evangelical Christian agency, and its work as an extension of Christian values, attempted to argue that as a religious organization it is exempt from the provisions of the Ontario Human Rights Code. This is despite the fact the agency receives some $75 million in financial aid from the provincial government to operate 180 group homes for 1,500 clients, none of whom (or their families), it might be added, are subjected to a similar moral or religious test. The Tribunal ruled Christian Horizons violated the complainant’s rights and ordered the agency to pay substantial damages as well as implement anti-discrimination policies and procedures. Bottom line: if you’re going to take public money and offer a public service, you need to abide by the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Charter of Rights.  The decision, despite claims of violation of religious freedom, is correct.

Way back in the dark ages, that is, the early ’90s, I knew an extremely personably and bright young Christian woman who worked for Christian Horizons, and who lived in some unholy terror that her employer would discover her lesbian relationship.  Her fear was palpable, and I can imagine the emotional torment the complainant went through.  Like my friend, Connie Heintz grew up in a serious, devout Mennonite household; only after a long struggle could she come to terms with being a lesbian.  She began a relationship.  She was confronted at work, and offered “restorative” therapy to make her “normal”.  And when she refused that a sadly familiar chain of events began, of work evaluations declining from exemplary to poor, and of highly suspect, circumstantial accusations of abusing clients and harassing another employee, before she finally left her employment.  

Reading though the 288 paragraphs (plus addendum) of the Tribunal’s decision one gets the sense of the conflicting rights and values involved, and the care by which the facts are weighed and adjudicated.  Irony seeps out.  Standard — if potentially illegal — human resources techniques of forcing an employee from a job by creating a poisoned work environment and setting up “conditions” for eventual dismissal hardly strike one as Christian, and it is perhaps surprising an organization that so aggressively bills itself as upholding Christian morality would countenance such behaviour, which is essentially deceitful and fraudulent.  There is then the larger inconguity of an organization like Christian Horizons, which according to its own mission statement is run with the admirable view to helping the marginalized, would so persecute a member of another marginalized group, in the name of Christian love.  Heintz’s own professed Christian belief and her ability to reconcile her faith and sexual orientation adds yet another layer of irony. This case boils down a Christian agency harassing a Christian out of her job — for being “insufficiently” Christian.  So much for religious freedom.  True religious liberty requires not only the freedom to practice one’s faith (or not), but toleration for dissent within an individual’s faith tradition.  Evangelical Christians do not speak for all Christians, nor do they hold the lockbox for doctrinal or moral purity.

(Note to Christian Horizons and others wanting to attack the Tribunal for this decision on the basis of religious freedom: the optics really suck on this one.) 



16 Responses

  1. This is EXACTLY what’s brought up in the movie “JESUS WAS A TERRORIST” – it’s like it predicted the future.

  2. Well I suppose talking to such liberal minded Buffoons in that nutty Canadian establishment, which is nothing more than a waste of money and time, the “Human Rights Tribunal”, is not going to accomplish much except for more stupidity, and an example of that is this bloc. But then again as seems right to me, everyone is entitled to his or her beliefs, except it seems for Christians. Perhaps its time that Christians started training those who live in a Homosexual lifestyle as to the proper behavior when hanging around or working with Christians. But perhaps having homosexuals work for Christians is not such a bad thing, after all think of the training we can give them to help leave this abomination to mankind to say nothing of the life’s we would be saving from sexually transmitted diseases like Aids which use to be called what? “GRID”.Gay related immune deficiency.
    Perhaps its time we started expressing ourselves again not hiding our thoughts and concerns. For it is far better that Canadians follow the truth from those with wisdom not those who hand out fear and punishment for wisdom.
    Exhorterone in ONTARIO Canada

  3. Christians are under attack in America! Take Grand Theft Jesus: The Hijacking of Religion in America. Written by Robert S. McElvaine for example. This worthless”historian” attempts to attack Christians with the bible! This book is likely to be the reference book of the Anti-Chris. I found this great review of Grand Theft Jesus that tears the arguments Dr. McElvaine to shreds.

  4. Exhorterone: Thank you for calling me a “Buffoon”. It’s the first time anyone has ever used that delightful 19th century term of approbium against moi. You have any others? (I personally like “blackguard” and “scalawag”.)

    I don’t have much to add to your comments. You neatly prove my point, that some evangelicals really dislike other Christians (or anyone else, for that matter) who don’t conform to their worldview. Why improve upon perfection?

    I would guess you have gay men and lesbians working with you even now. Hate to tell you, but we’re everywhere. I hope you are kinder in person than what your comment would suggest.

    Matt: This relates to the post how?

    Salima: Thank you.

  5. [shaking my head as I read craziness] Exempt from OHRC? I’m glad that was rejected. Morality seems to go out the door for those who are trying to force their moral code on others. Funny.

  6. […] 1, 2008 While I see where mackthek is coming from in his reaction to the story of Connie Heitz and Christian Horizons, in that I see that he has a moral motivation […]

  7. Yes, Christian Horizons has erred in their methods of firing Connie Heintz, you forget that she was under contract and so she probably shouldn’t have taken the job if her beliefs clashed with her employers.

    here’s my post on the topic with more detail.

  8. Should be titled, “Christians prosecuted.” I think.


  9. Great post. I feel that, in this situation, OHRC made the right decision. If you’re taking government money, then you are subject to government regulations which obviously prohibits discrimination. If Christian Horizons wasn’t receiving any government funding and was a private organization, akin to the Boy Scouts of America, then by all means they can be somewhat restrictive on whom they hire. As long as it fall within the legal aspects of Canadian employment law.

  10. […] 2008 May 6, Tuesday, 13:00 — monado Blog Stray Dog Café has the story of a Christian who was really persecuted in Ontario—by a Christian organization. Posted in people, religion. Tags: Canada, Ontario, people, […]

  11. Given that gay marriage is legal in Ontario, I wonder if Christian Horizons could have gotten away with firing her not for being gay, but for having a relationship outside of marriage. I don’t know what the human rights jurisprudence is on this issue, but a strict reading of the Ontario Human Rights Code doesn’t seem to protect sex outside of marriage (it prohibits discrimination on the basis of marital status, but that is arguably a different thing — one can be unmarried and not have sex).

  12. Ah, gay Christians… such a funny thing. They must not read their bibles very well. Most notably the story of SODOM and Gamorah where God destroyed those two cities for idolatrous acts and unnatural relations with members of the same sex. Hence the word Sodomy is derived from this story. So in conclusion how can you be Christian and think it is okay to be homosexual or lesbian? THINK ABOUT IT.

  13. “If you’re taking government money, then you are subject to government regulations which obviously prohibits discrimination.”

    I’ll believe that the day I see an article where the Ontario government requires someone to re-hire a confessing pederast. Of course the government allows discrimination — based on its values and views of right-and-wrong.

    What is at issue is the right of persons to dissent from State-approved orthodoxies and ideologies.

    The argument over receiving government funds isn’t worth much. Those funds are first extracted from tax-paying citizens, including Christians, who have as much right to participate in society as anyone else. They were being paid for a service they were providing. As Christians, they have a conservative moral code. Others don’t. They do.

    The Tolerance crowd oozes intolerance. They just can’t handle the very values they claim to espouse — tolerance and diversity. Instead, they demand rigid conformity to their beliefs.

  14. “Ah, gay Christians… such a funny thing. They must not read their bibles very well. Most notably the story of SODOM and Gamorah where God destroyed those two cities for idolatrous acts and unnatural relations with members of the same sex. Hence the word Sodomy is derived from this story. So in conclusion how can you be Christian and think it is okay to be homosexual or lesbian? THINK ABOUT IT.”

    Sodom was destroyed because of humans trying to gang rape someone, not because the rape was between men.

    Though I do agree in large part with your post mackthek, I do wonder why the girl chose to work in that place. She was really playing with matches, there are far more jobs out there. Its sad that she can’t work where she wants based off her preference though.

  15. Thanks again for your comments.

    Tulse: Good point. I don’t know. But I think the ruling also depended in part on how CH’s rules were applied in general to all staff, i.e. a lesbian woman was singled out, but adulterers were given a pass. Incidentally it seems odd to me to have a short laundry list of sins, when some of the more obvious sins were left out.

    Richard: I’m a taxpayer as well and belong to one of the “historic peace churches” — the Quakers. We believe that war is absolutely evil and unScriptural. It is a dissenting view from the majority of Canadian society. Yet a large chuck of the taxes I pay goes to support a war I cannot support for religious reasons. I don’t think I should be paying those taxes. Does that mean the government is discriminating against me for religious reasons?

    Goldnsilver, lyrica: I don’t want to get into an argument about the scriptural interpretation. I will say that Christians are not united on the question of gays and lesbians, your opinion being one of many. And also, I thought God punished Sodom for inhospitality.:)

  16. Dear Sir,
    Greeting you in the Holy Name of Jesus Christ. I am a victim and a born again Christian from Chittagong, Bangladesh. I have accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior and my Lord. Ministering among Muslim Evangelical Ministry in Chittagong. From the beginning of my conversion, I have been persecuted by the Community, relatives, friends and Individuals active Islamic groups those who are against me attacked me seriously, I was stoned, cut my left hand with a sharp blade, which signs are still alive in my body. Everyday I have to face many troubles due be a Christian by faith. Physically, mentally and financially I have already been harassed many times. My personal life seriously affected. I have my wife and my 9 months old baby boy are also born again Christian by faith. We all are baptized accordingly. All the way of our life we are in danger. Even if I die, no relatives will receive my death body even any Church because of fear. To live a normal life with respect its being very difficult. Active groups and individuals are always against me. Very recently I have almost completed a noble named THE FORBIDDEN SCRIPTURE taken from the Quraan, the 60% of Quraan are forbidden for Muslim, in my book I have tried my best to encourage Muslim to read Quraan in
    their own language. Which may stand against Islam? I
    am very much scared to publish my book here and also for persecution.
    It is very difficult for us to live a Christian life with respect and faith.
    I therefore requested you to rescue our life from disaster and troubles and to help us to relocate any where around the earth at least to survive. I therefore pray and hope you kind intervention to enable us to relocate soon for sake of our life. Thanking you. May God bless you. Please pray for us. In my home country I became a refugee. I therefore pray and hope to be delivered from disaster. Thanking you.Truly yours
    Joshua D Russell (Given Name)
    Rubbaitul Islam (Former Name)
    Jessica R Russell (Given Name)- my Wife
    Kaniz Fatema (Former Name)
    John Abraham ( My son)
    Chittagong, Bangladesh
    Cell: +88 0191 5634493

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