February 25, 2013
If you’re a Christian living in Manitoba, your voice needs to be heard.
The Manitoba government is attempting to pass Bill 18, a school anti-bullying Bill. Under this Bill, it would be a crime to bully children because of their gender, their race, their disabilities, or their sexual orientation. But many conservative Christians in southern Manitoba—specifically the Steinbach area—have been extremely vocal against this Bill. Specifically, the Steinbach Christian High School has been rallying people to fight the Bill, arguing that their religious beliefs conflict with the right of their students to be protected against bullying. Keep in mind that this Bill does nothing to change what is taught in schools; it was specifically written solely to prevent student minority groups from bullying, either from other students or from the school itself. You can read the Bill in its entirety here.
Many Christians in Manitoba treat the freedom of religion as if it’s their own personal weapon to wield, but the reality is that the freedom of religion exists to protect us from our own discrimination. Discrimination is not a protected right. If you want to say “Christian schools shouldn’t have to allow pro-gay groups” (because, let’s be honest, that’s why this backlash is about) you must immediately follow that with “secular schools shouldn’t have to allow Christian groups.” Privately, people can do whatever they’d like—as a Canadian citizen, you’re allowed to participate in racism, sexism, and homophobia, but you cannot receive government support for doing so.
The question I’d pose is this: Opponents of Bill 18 argue that a religion’s right to discrimination—as a deeply held belief—should override a student’s right to be protected from that discrimination. But the Christians in opposition to the Bill are looking through a very narrow viewfinder. Mormonism teaches that black skin is caused by sin. Would you support a school with a Mormon administration in their decision to disallow gatherings of black students? Would you support a school with an administration dominated by Atheists if they decided that Christian students shouldn’t be allowed to gather?
Bill 18 is a protection of these rights. Fighting Bill 18 is fighting against the very protection that allows Christians to gather at schools. It’s amazing that the opponents of the Bill are so incredibly blinded to that just because they see the words “sexual orientation” in the Bill, as if those words were part of some sort of secret agenda. Yes, the government does have an agenda, and it is this: don’t allow schools to bully kids, regardless of how much they think those kids deserve to be bullied. The backlash against the Bill only serves as proof that, sadly, it’s a Bill we need.
Yesterday, 1200 people gathered in Steinbach to say that their right to discriminate was more important a student’s right to be free from that discrimination. If you’re a Christian, you need to speak up. Too many kids have already committed suicide to escape the exact sort of bullying that this vocal group is advocating. If you have a single drop of love in your body, you’ll fight this hate. What I can do from here is fairly limited, so please, do what you can.
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