Thursday, November 1, 2012

Calgary bishop welcomes 'hate speech' decision

Ruling 'is an important benchmark to check some of the bullying directed against religious leaders'

Bishop Fred Henry of Calgary.
Deborah Gyapong reports that Bishop Fred Henry of Calgary is welcoming a decision from the Alberta Court of Appeals that found an Alberta youth pastor was not guilty of hate speech against homosexuals:
On Oct., 23 a panel of Alberta Court of Appeal judges upheld the Court of Queen’s Bench 2009 decision that overturned a 2008 Alberta Human Rights Commission finding against Stephen Boissoin that a 2002 letter he wrote to the Red Deer Advocate amounted to hate speech against homosexuals. Not only was Boissoin vindicated a second time, the appeal court awarded him costs.

“This judicial decision was certainly a welcome one and will be an important benchmark to check some of the bullying directed against religious leaders,” said Calgary Bishop Fred Henry, who himself faced complaints to the Alberta Human Rights Commission for a 2005 pastoral letter on marriage during the height of the same-sex marriage debate. The complaints against the bishop were eventually dropped, but not without causing stress and expense to the diocese.

“Just because some pastor’s teaching, preaching and / or writing rubs people the wrong way or causes them to feel hurt doesn’t make it ‘hate speech,’” said Bishop Henry in an email. “Shepherds have to carry both a staff and a rod to care for the well-being of the sheep. We need strong vocal leaders who will occasionally push back.”
Read the full story at The B.C. Catholic website.

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