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Canadian Christians: Tomorrow’s Soviet Jews?

Will the US see a stream of Christian doctors and lawyers emigrating from Canada for religious freedom?

As I’ve said, I’m reading Gary Shteyngart’s great memoir about coming to America as a child, in the great Carter-era exodus of Soviet Jews. It wasn’t religious freedom that many of those Jews were coming to America for; Shteyngart’s family was thoroughly secular. It was to escape the entire phenomenon, religious and racial, of Russian anti-Semitism, one effect of which was in some cases to deny Jews employment or professional advancement.

It’s startling, then, to read this report from Canada, by a lawyer named Albertos Polizogopoulos, about how the entire country is becoming the sort of place where a Christian lawyer or doctor may have to immigrate or to apostatize. Excerpt:

With the TWU battle raging, another overt campaign to drive out or silence Christians in the legal community was commenced. The Legal Leaders for Diversity (LLD) and is made up of the heads of the legal departments from more than 70 major corporations. The campaign involves its own form of community covenant by these 70+ corporations (including BMO, Ford, The Globe and Mail and the Edmonton Oilers) to restrict hiring of law firms for their legal work to those who have a commitment to “diversity” and “inclusiveness.” The LLD’s definition of these words requires approval of same-sex marriage and excludes Christians or others who might have a different opinion.

The LLD publicly opposed TWU’s proposed law school on the basis that TWU’s Community Covenant is not “inclusive.”

This direct attack on Christian lawyers is meant to create a chilling effect in the legal profession. Lawyers who work for law firms seeking to do business with these corporations will hesitate, and perhaps even be barred from voicing their religious and moral beliefs, or for acting for religious clients in human rights cases dealing with these issues. It’s a scary time to be a Christian lawyer in Canada.

The accrediting organization for doctors in Ontario is considering a policy that would force its members to participate in abortion and euthanasia (even indirectly, by requiring them to refer patients seeking abortion or euthanasia to a doctor who will perform it) as a condition of being a physician. More:

If the CPSO policy is finalized as currently worded, Christian physicians are no longer welcome in the medical profession unless they are willing to compromise their religious and moral beliefs. Dr. Marc Gabel, who chairs the group which produced the draft policy, has publicly stated that physicians who refuse to refer for procedures or pharmaceuticals they object to should leave family medicine. It’s a scary time to be a Christian doctor in Canada.

Note well that in neither case mentioned is the move against Christian lawyers and doctors mandated by the government. It’s being done by private associations. But these private associations have a quasi-governmental function in that you cannot serve as a doctor or a lawyer without their certification.

I wonder how Muslim doctors and lawyers think about these proposals.

Now, I’m not saying that the situation for Christians in Canada today is approaching that of Soviet Jews of the Brezhnev era. Plainly it does not (e.g., in the USSR, you could be a religiously unbelieving Jew, and it did you no good). Jews were far worse off, no question. But the similarities are there. Imagine having to tell your children that they can only be a doctor or a lawyer if they give up or compromise their faith — or emigrate. This is the situation Catholic gynecologists face in Britain today:

Catholic doctors who follow church teaching on sexual ethics cannot work as gynaecologists in Britain, the Catholic Medical Association (CMA) conference was told.

Charlie O’Donnell, a consultant in emergency and intensive care medicine, said the best advice he could give to an “orthodox” Catholic wishing to specialise in obstetrics and gynaecology would be to “emigrate”.

Dr O’Donnell told the conference at Ealing Abbey, west London, on 17 May that a Catholic training to be a consultant in obstetrics and gynaecology would soon find he or she had conscientious objections to such tasks as prescribing artificial contraceptives, giving unmarried couples fertility treatment or Viagra to gay couples.

He said that supervising consultants do not have the backup to allow trainees to opt out if they have moral objections to such work. However, conscientious objection to abortion is allowed because of specific provision in the 1967 Abortion Act.

“To be a sound Catholic regarding sexual ethics it is not possible to train as a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist but this is not because of discrimination against Catholics. There is a total conflict of culture of what is good sex, a dichotomy of belief between what we as Christians believe is good overall for the individual and what secular society believes,” said Dr O’Donnell.

The discrimination against Jews in the USSR proved to be a boon to the United States, which gained a number of Soviet engineers in the migration. Similarly, we may stand to gain a number of Christian physicians and lawyers from Canada and Europe, escaping the revolutions in their countries.

But how long will American Christians be free to work as lawyers and doctors (or other professionals) without having to deny their faith or participate in something they consider to be gravely immoral? I suppose the US Supreme Court will at least partly answer that question in its gay marriage ruling this summer.

If you are a North American Christian and you are not preparing, and preparing your children, to suffer for the faith, you are not reading the signs of the times. Do not let yourself be blinded by the Law of Merited Impossibility, which says, “It will never happen, and when it does, you people will deserve it.”



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