by David Sisler
Do homosexuals have the right to live a life-style of their choosing and to proselytize for their movement? According to the Constitution of the United States, and the Supreme Court of Canada, they do.
Do evangelical Christians have the right to live a life-style of their choosing and to proselytize for their movement? According to the Constitution of the United States, and the Supreme Court of Canada, they do.
While the first fact has been broadly acknowledged, the second has – lately – been broadly denied. Two recent court cases provide a very proper, and very welcome relief to the denial of the rights of evangelical Christians.
A few months ago a 16-year-old Minnesota high school student, Elliott Chambers, was told by Dr. Dana Babbit, principal of Woodbury High School, in St. Paul, that he could not wear a t-shirt which read, "Straight Pride." The shirt, which pictures a man and a woman holding hands was banned by Babbit as offensive to gay, lesbian and bisexual students.
Last Friday, a U.S. District Court issued a preliminary injunction against the school stating there was "a strong likelihood" that Babbit violated Chambers' constitutional rights when she issued the ban against the "Straight Pride" t-shirt.
A FOXNews report stated, "The court said there was insufficient evidence that, as the school maintained, the presence of the shirt on campus would cause a substantial disruption of school activities."
Chambers was back in school Friday, and along with a dozen fellow students, demonstrating "Straight Pride."
Some students and teachers said the shirt is a form of harassment whose language makes gay and lesbian students "uncomfortable." But school officials promote a double-standard, marking certain areas of the campus with inverted pink triangles, designating them as "safe areas" where students and faculty can gather to discuss homosexual issues.
Stephen M. Crampton, chief counsel for the American Family Center, called the injunction "a tremendous victory for student free speech and a small step toward exposing the hypocrisy of the ‘tolerance' agenda.
"The court recognized that true tolerance means tolerance of all, and not only a select few," he said.
In other recent court news, Trinity Western University (TWU) in British Columbia won its five year battle against the British Columbia College of Teachers (BCCT). In 1996 BCCT ruled that TWU's graduates could not be certified as public school teachers because the school requires students and faculty to sign a contract declaring that they will uphold community standards forbidding biblically condemned behaviors. That includes gay sex, fornication, adultery, watching pornography, drunkenness, swearing, abortion, lying and involvement in the occult.
BCCT said TWU graduates would discriminate against gay and lesbian students in the classroom. By an 8-1 margin the Supreme Court of Canada said the case had not been proven and ruled in the university's favor. Many legal experts view the 76-page ruling as the most significant ruling on religious freedom in Canada in many years.
In its decision last Thursday, the Supreme Court stated, "There is nothing in TWU's Community Standards that indicates that graduates of TWU will not treat homosexuals fairly and respectfully. Indeed, the evidence to date is that graduates from the ... TWU ... teacher education program have become competent public school teachers, and there is no evidence before the Court of discriminatory conduct by any graduate."
Ted Byfield, a founding editor of the Alberta Reporter, writing in The London Free Press, commented on the Trinity Western University case one month before its resolution. He wrote, "[TWU's] requirement [that] its students abide by traditional Christian sexual morality is seen as an attack on sexual freedom." Byfield asks sarcastically, "How could people who believe in marital fidelity and straight sex possibly make good teachers?"
Canada's Supreme Court overwhelmingly believes they can.
In a personal letter, TWU faculty member Neal Diamond told me, "Based on the plurality of today's society and its propensity to homosexual tolerance we could only throw ourselves on the grace of God to help us. We couldn't do this on our own."
Two spiritual victories in two days.
It's a start!
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