“Our once great western Christian civilization is dying. If this matters to followers of Jesus Christ, then we must set aside our denominational differences and work together to strengthen the things that remain and reclaim what has been lost. Evangelicals and Catholics must stand together to re-establish that former Christian culture and moral consensus. We have the numbers and the organization but the question is this: Do we have the will to win this present spiritual battle for Jesus Christ against secularism? Will we prayerfully and cooperatively work toward a new Christian spiritual revival ― or will we choose to hunker down in our churches and denominationalisms and watch everything sink into the spiritual and moral abyss of a New Dark Age?” - Mark Davis Pickup

Sunday, July 24, 2016


In my little corner of the world, it seems anti-life bigotry is alive and well. According to LifeSiteNews.com (LSN), the small farming town of Westlock, Alberta recently banned a pro-Life float from their annual community parade. Pro-Life views were not welcome. (Westlock is seventy miles north of my community of Beaumont, Alberta.)

The pro-life float was delightfully positive and life affirming. It had a cardboard birthday cake with three candles and a banner that said "Everyone deserves a birthday." Do you see something offensive in that? Me neither. 

It's an era when everyone is supposed to be so pluralistic and accepting. We're supposed to celebrate and accept alternate agendas. Homosexual PRIDE parades are celebrated in the largest cities across Canada -- with their in-your-face advocacy; Greenpeace -- saving baby seals and eagle eggs, and assorted other agendas. Why would a small Canadian prairie community ban a modest parade float advocating the affirmation, celebration and protection of all human life? 

I submit it is an example of how the culture of death has invaded and pervaded every level of Canadian society, down to the smallest town.

Initially, Westlock parade organizers said the pro-Life float was not in keeping with Westlock's 100th anniversary theme. The question arises: Did all the other floats have a 100th anniversary theme? Were any other floats banned and if so, why? The article below from LSN suggests the answer is no. If that is true, then we must conclude there was something parade organizers didn't like? Gee, I wonder what it was?

After hiding behind the not-in-keeping-with-the-anniversary-theme,

Westlock Alberta Mayor
Ralph Leringer
parade organizers finally admitted the real reason: "Pro-Life is not allowed." Calls and emails by LSN to Westlock Mayor Ralph Leringer were not returned. 

One former Westlock resident, Claudelle Key, stated, "The town had an agenda and clearly continued to ramp up its efforts, which included lying (you're not registered, you're not in theme, we're at capacity). 

She continued:

"In the end, these 'gatekeepers' used threats to keep this pro-life float out of the parade. If this had been another group that had been denied entry, this would be in front of the Alberta human rights commission right now." Although we need not identify which groups, Keys is absolutely right.

According to LSN, when Keys wrote a letter to the local newspaper to bring light to what happen, (I presume it was The Westlock News), they refused to publish it.

So what should we make of a community's apparent hostility to unfashionable yet legitimate and deeply held views of a significant minority of its citizens? If we embrace a spirit of pluralism and acceptance such behavior by community leaders must be decried. 

If the LSN article is correct, what happened in Westlock was nothing less than the suppression of its citizens' right to expression of conscience and religious beliefs, guaranteed in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (s-2).

Someone may be thinking, "What's the big deal? It was small town parade in a remote community out in western Canada." Injustice is injustice no matter where it happens. The rights enshrined in Canada's Charter, and the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Articles 18 and 19) apply to everyone. The  universal human right of conscience and religious belief, and their expression, are universal -- no matter how small or where they are applied.

In 1948, while pondering the new UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Eleanor Roosevelt said this about the what and where of human rights:

"Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home -- so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works. ... Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world."

It does not matter if suppression of conscience expression occurs on the streets of a dusty prairie town or Canada's largest city of Toronto; the violation is just as wrong and repugnant no matter where it happens. Banning or suppressing people's legitimate opinions from being expressed must be challenged anywhere it is found. According to LSN, it seems Westlock community organizers and local newspaper did that. Shame on them both!

The Pembina Pro-Life group deserves an apology from the Town and a solemn promise not to ban them in future. Westlock's municipal leaders may disagree with what Pembina Pro-Life espouses but they must protect their right to say it publicly. -- Mark

A link to the LSN article can be found here

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