I recently came across an article titled Ontario Considers Legislation Criminalizing Public Displays of Faith for Christians by “Activist Mommy.” As a resident of Ontario and as a Christian pastor, this got my attention.
I would assume, based on the title alone, that the Ontario Legislature was considering criminalizing public displays of faith for Christians. Sound logical? However, that is not accurate.
The legislation in questions in Bill 84 (2019), also known as “Prohibiting Hate-Promoting Demonstrations at Queen’s Park Act.” You can find the accurate details here.
The Bill has nothing to do with criminalizing public displays of faith. It has a very specific goal and that is to regulate protests and demonstrations at Queens Park (where the Ontario Legislature meets). It specifies that this has only to do with “legislative precinct grounds” meaning the area of land in the City of Toronto bounded on the east, south and west by Queen’s Park Crescent and on the north by Wellesley Street West.”
So let’s be clear, it is not about limiting religious (or any other) expression across Ontario. It only has to do with Queens Park. You wouldn’t get that impression from the article by “Activist Mommy.”
Secondly, the aim is not to prevent any religious or Christian expression. It states: “No demonstration, rally or other activity that, in the opinion of the Speaker, is likely to promote hatred against any identifiable group shall be permitted on legislative precinct grounds.”
However, “Activist Mommy” warns, “Public prayer vigils could be outlawed.” That is not what Bill 84 is about at all. It would stop people from demonstrating with signs of “All Muslims are Terrorists” or “All Homosexuals are Dangerous.” Christians can demonstrate without such tactics.
Could hate speech laws be abused? Definitely. But what “Activist Mommy” does is fear-mongering and is misrepresenting the facts. This is not appropriate activity for Christians.
There is a way to express concerns that is both accurate and reasonable. This is not an example of it.