Parliamentary Motion on Canada Summer Jobs
Some of you may have been following the issue surrounding the Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ) program. For several years in the past, our church took advantage of the CSJ program, which allows us to hire high school and post-secondary students as interns for the summer to help us with our ministry and also to give them valuable work experience and training. The grants that the government gave for this purpose were extremely valuable to our church, the students, and the community of South Delta as we used the internships to develop young leaders to serve the community by organizing youth events, kids camps, community events, and serving in the Tsawwassen First Nation community. However, a change to the application process to this year's CSJ program means that we are no longer able to take advantage of such a valuable program. The government has added an attestation box to the application form this year where we have to check the box that says, "I attest" to an aforementioned attestation. Here's the wording of the attestation on the application form:
"Both the job and my organization’s core mandate respect individual human rights in Canada, including the values underlying the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as well as other rights. These include reproductive rights and the right to be free of discrimination on the basis of sex, religion, race, national or ethnic origin, colour, mental or physical disability or sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression."
Because of our understanding of the biblical teachings on the definition of marriage and sanctity of life, and our conviction that these biblical teachings are to be understood as God's truth in this world, we cannot check this attestation box in good conscience. So, like many churches and other organizations all across Canada, we applied for the CSJ grants without checking the attestation box, and with an accompanying letter explaining our reasoning for leaving the box unchecked. We also expressed our concern that organizations with similar convictions should not be exempt from benefiting from government programs like this because of our faith. Our application was returned as it was deemed, "incomplete."
We are protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (section two), and we believe the CSJ attestation requirement infringes on our rights. However, our reaction as a church—the body of Christ—should not be one of violent protest or slandering of the government. Romans 13 commands us to "be subject to the governing authorities." I know that it is tempting to speak poorly about the government in these situations, but that is not how mature Christians should respond. We ought to respond with respect and love like Jesus in situations like this. Let us pray for the government and the people who serve our city, province, and nation. Let us pray that they would be successful in their roles, and that they and their families would be blessed.
Nevertheless, we do have the responsibility to speak truth in grace. So, we have written our Member of Parliament, Carla Qualtrough, to encourage her to vote in favour of the parliamentary motion on Canada Summer Jobs that is scheduled for Monday, March 19th. MPs will be voting on the following motion:
"That, in the opinion of the House, organizations that engage in non-political non-activist work, such as feeding the homeless, helping refugees, and giving kids an opportunity to go to camp, should be able to access Canada Summer Jobs funding regardless of their private convictions and regardless of whether or not they choose to sign the application attestation."
Please join our staff and elders as we pray for God's favour upon us regarding this matter, and for discernment and wisdom for the MPs as they meet on Monday.
(For more information, please visit the Canadian Council of Christian Charities blog.)