A new law that goes into effect this week in Canada threatens to “criminalize Christianity,” according to pastors who have been imprisoned for keeping their churches open during COVID lockdowns.
Bill C-4, which bans conversion therapy, is so broad that it defines biblical marriage and sexuality as a “myth” and can be used against pastors, parents, and counselors who either speak against homosexuality or transgenderism or who counsel a person to adhere to a biblical lifestyle.
“This means as of January 8, 2022, it will be against the law to preach, teach, or counsel regarding God’s design for marriage and sexuality,” Andrew DeBartolo, teaching elder of Encounter Church, wrote in a letter.
The controversial bill, which was passed without opposition from either party, threatens imprisonment of up to five years:
“Everyone who knowingly causes another person to undergo conversion therapy – including by providing conversion therapy to that other person – is guilty of an indictable offense and liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than five years.” Similarly, “Everyone who knowingly promotes or advertises conversion therapy is guilty of an indictable offense and liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than two years.”
Pastors across Canada are planning to preach on God’s design for marriage a biblical ethic of sexuality on Sunday, Jan. 16 in protest of the new law in an effort led by Liberty Coalition Canada.
Michael Thiessen, a pastor at a Baptist church in Ontario and leader of Liberty Coalition, called the threat of imprisoning pastors for declaring the gospel’s power to free people from sexual sin a “grievous evil.”
“We think that the radical gay/trans activists want Canadians to acclimatize to the new law so that individuals will be dull and unresponsive when charges are laid on selected outspoken individuals,” Thiessen said. “But the threat of imprisoning pastors, parents, counsellors, teachers, and anyone for that matter, who affirms God’s anatomical design for the sexes and His plan for human sexuality, and counsels others to pursue obedience to that end, is a serious matter. It is an attack upon religious liberties, and more than that, it is a direct attack upon God’s moral character and upon His Word.”
DeBartolo said they are honored to have Americans joining them in the fight for religious liberty.
“We will be doing so illegally, declaring to the State that there is one God and one Lord over His church, and that Christ alone gets to both define marriage and dictate what is required in the pulpit,” DeBartolo said.
Pastor John MacArthur of Grace Community Church in California is calling on others to sign up and join him and the other faith leaders.
“Will you stand with me and our Canadian brothers and confront, in a spirit of love and mercy, the damning sins legalized in our culture? And will you join the nationwide effort to preach on a biblical view of sexual morality on January 16, 2022 and proclaim the gospel of salvation that is now criminalized?” MacArthur asked.