Calvary Grace Church Response to Summer Jobs Application Rejection
The email below was sent to the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development, and Labour, as well as to the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Official Opposition, after Calvary Grace Church was informed that the Summer Jobs Program attestation requiring "respect" for abortion rights "cannot be altered or modified."
My name is Jeff Jones, a pastor at Calvary Grace Church in Calgary, Alberta. We have just been informed that your department will not accept an amended or modified attestation for the Summer Jobs program, even though we went to great lengths to affirm as much of the attestation as we possibly could without violating our religious beliefs.
We did check the attestation box on the form, crossing out a single sentence in the third point of the attestation, and explained in an attached letter that we could affirm three of the four points of the attestation (specifically, the first, second, and fourth), and that we could affirm the first sentence of the remaining (third) point. In that letter (which you can read here) we explained that we cannot, on grounds of conscience and religious belief, affirm the wording of the second sentence of that remaining (third) point. The supplementary information mentioned in the reply email does nothing to alleviate our concerns, since the word "respect" leaves far too many questions unanswered. Therefore, as an alternative, in our letter we listed several ways in which we show respect for those who do not share our beliefs on the matters mentioned in the attestation. Furthermore, in our letter, we went out of our way to explain in detail what our organization's "core mandate" is as that was presented in the media and in your department's information as your government's concern about applying organizations.
Given your department's unwillingness to consider or accept modification to the attestation requirement (again: there is only a single sentence in all the four points of the attestation that we are unable to affirm, and as an alternative we provided explanations of ways in which we respect those who disagree with our religious beliefs), and given that our explanation of our "core mandate" did nothing to alleviate your department's concerns, I am forced to conclude that this has nothing to do with "core mandates" at all, but that your intent is indeed to require ideological conformity by Summer Jobs applicants and to force religious organizations to express support for practices that we oppose. In short, you have imposed a religious and ideological "test" as a condition for a public benefit. So much for equal treatment under the law, or for freedom of conscience and religion in Canada.
The fact that our application is not even being considered (and, we presume, many others as well), simply because we refuse to deny our own beliefs, is an outrage. Minister, we answer to a higher authority and cannot make an affirmation that violates what God has stated in Scripture. Whether you believe it or not, at the end of your days so will you, and so we implore you personally: turn from this abhorrent course of action, and pursue righteousness instead of evil. Listen to the opposition expressed to your policy across the political spectrum. Consider the grave consequences for civil liberties in a Canada where sincerely held religious beliefs are not "respected" by governments. Reverse your unfair (and unconstitutional) attestation requirement, or at the very least, re-word it.
Finally, and this is in all sincerity far more important to us than a few public dollars, may God grant you repentance and a knowledge of the truth in Jesus Christ.
We cannot and will not sign the attestation as written.
Pastor, Calvary Grace Church of Calgary, Alberta