Canada Ranked Third Among Western Countries for Christian Rights Violations: Report

Canada Ranked Third Among Western Countries for Christian Rights Violations: Report
An Aylmer police officer videotapes as Pastor Henry Hildebrandt speaks during a drive-in service at The Church of God in Aylmer, Ont. on Sunday, April 26, 2020. Police monitored the service after complaints about the church’s social distancing measures at their drive-in service last week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Robins
Chandra Philip
Canada has placed third on a list that tracks the level of rights violations against Christians in Western countries, according to a new report.

The United States topped the list with 58 incidents, followed by the UK with 43 incidents. Canada had 36 cited incidents of rights violations against Christians, according to the report by the Washington-based Family Research Council (FRC).

The report was compiled based on an analysis of open-source documents, reports, and media articles from 34 countries.

“It is shocking to see Western countries—the same ones we think of as free and open societies—take authoritarian measures against Christians simply trying to live out their faith. Hostility toward Bible-believing Christians is clearly and steadily rising in the West,” FRC president Tony Perkins said in the report.

“Religious freedom is the foundation for the human rights that Western democracies seek to promote abroad. Yet, the ability to promote this fundamental human right will be lost if we do not protect it within our borders.”

Josh Alexander is arrested outside St. Joseph's High School in Renfrew, Ont., on Feb. 6, 2023. (Chris Dacey)
Josh Alexander is arrested outside St. Joseph's High School in Renfrew, Ont., on Feb. 6, 2023. (Chris Dacey)

Most of the cases involved pastors penalized for holding church services during COVID-19 lockdowns, such as Artur Pawlowski, who was arrested after holding a service in spite of pandemic restrictions on gatherings. Mr. Pawlowski spent three days in jail and was fined $23,000.

He was charged again for a speech he gave to Freedom Convoy truckers gathered at the Coutts border crossing and spent 78 days in jail following his arrest.

The list also included the case of Josh Alexander, an Ontario Catholic high school student who was kicked out of school for protesting boys in girls’ bathrooms.

Mr. Alexander was initially suspended in November 2022 for organizing the protest. He raised concerns after a female classmate said she was uncomfortable when a boy entered the girls’ bathroom while she was present.

The suspension was changed to an “exclusion,” which is similar but seen as non-disciplinary. Mr. Alexander attempted to return to school in February 2023 but was told he was trespassing and the police arrested him.
He appealed the school board’s decision, but his exclusion was upheld. Mr. Alexander’s lawyer is asking for the courts to review the decision as the school board has refused to publish its findings.

The report says that Christians in Western countries are being targeted when they express views on marriage and sexuality that are Biblically based.

“Christians in schools and universities have experienced hostility for their beliefs on marriage and human sexuality,” it said.

“Other Christians were fired and even arrested after their employers found evidence of the individual’s biblical beliefs on their private social media pages.”

A journalism student at a Toronto university was also singled out for his Catholic beliefs.

Jonathan Bradley said an editor from the then-Ryerson University (now Toronto Metropolitan University) school paper disciplined him for an article he had published in The Post Millennial critical of equality and inclusion offices in Canadian universities.

He was later let go from the paper after being accused of homophobic and transphobic comments on social media.

The countries investigated for the report include Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Tara MacIsaac and Andrew Chen contributed to this report.