June 17, 2003
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CRITICAL NATIONAL ISSUE: Bill C-250
The Canadian Bible Society expresses concern over controversial bill and urges Canadians to do likewise.
UPDATE: The House of Commons has adjourned for the Summer Recess. As such, the final vote on C-250 will take place some time after the House resumes in September. This delay affords opponents of the bill an additional chance to voice their objections by contacting their local MPs.
TORONTO The mission of the Canadian Bible Society is to translate, publish, and distribute the Bible in the languages of the world, and to encourage its use. That mandate, however, may be threatened by a controversial private member's bill now facing the House of Commons.
Bill C-250 was forced through a Justice Committee hearing when its sponsor, MP Svend Robinson, "filibustered" the session, sending the bill back for a final hearing by the entire House of Commons, which may take place as early as this week.
Enactment of Bill C-250 would amend section 318 of the Criminal Code to include "sexual orientation" in the list of identifiable groups protected against those who would "advocate or promote genocide." These identifiable groups are also protected under section 319, which makes it a criminal offence to utter public statements that "wilfully promote hatred against any identifiable group."
The Canadian Bible Society neither supports nor condones the promotion of hatred or acts of violence against any person, nor does it condone speech that insights people to violence. Thus, the Society is not troubled by the objective of prohibiting these. The Society is concerned, however, that the proposed legislation may be used to silence reasonable debate and the traditional teachings of the Bible and the Church by making the expression of moral disapproval of certain forms of sexual activity a criminal offence.
While charges cannot be laid under Section 318 without the consent of the Attorney General, this precautionary provision should not be considered as a rationale to defend a law that could limit the legitimate expression of religious beliefs, and the distribution and proclamation of religious texts. Religious freedom would be better protected by a clear exemption for religious texts and instruction. If C-250 is not intended to target the Bible, then it now falls to the House of Commons to ensure that this is made clear in the legislation, and that fundamental Canadian freedoms are not eroded by the potential effects of Bill C-250.
The Canadian Bible Society, therefore, urges Members of Parliament and the Government of Canada to strike down this bill that would infringe on the freedom of Canadians to distribute the Scriptures to all who would receive them and speak publicly about the Bible and its teachings.
The Bible Society also encourages Canadians to speak out in order to ensure that the Criminal Code not be used to censor the Bible and to guarantee that the freedom to express moral views not be lost in Canada.
Please protect religious freedom in our country.
To voice your opinion, contact your local Member of Parliament. A complete list of MPs can be found by clicking here.