Justin Trudeau is the world's biggest cheerleader for a diverse and inclusive society. Diversity is our strength, he repeats ad nauseam. Canada is strong because people of many diverse cultures, backgrounds and beliefs are welcome in our tolerant, multicultural country.
But Mr. Trudeau's Canada evidently doesn't include people such as Rosemary Redshaw.
Ms. Redshaw runs a small, mostly voluntary outfit called New Life Prison Ministries. It is a Christian organization that works with prison inmates and former inmates to get their lives back on track. It survives on faith and a shoestring. Until now, it has been eligible for a small federal grant to subsidize the cost of a summer intern. But this year, the application form added a new box to tick. In order to get the money, she must attest that she and her organization respect Canada's charter rights, including "women's rights and women's reproductive rights."
Ms. Redshaw couldn't honestly tick the box, because she is pro-life. Her views on reproductive rights have no effect on the services provided by her organization. But never mind. She's out of luck. So are hundreds of Bible camps, aid groups and other faith-based initiatives across the country. "Because of our commitment to the sanctity of life and to biblical teachings, our government is discriminating against us," Brad Jones, pastor of the Woodgreen Presbyterian Church in Calgary, told the National Post.
Or, as Ms. Redshaw put it to me, "This government's position is, 'We're open to everything except for the beliefs we don't like.'"
Mr. Trudeau and his government like to talk as if women's reproductive rights were enshrined in the Constitution. In fact, they are not. Canada (wisely, in my view) has no abortion law at all, for the simple reason that trying to write a law would be too divisive and contentious. Yet, to hear our Prime Minister tell it, anti-abortion views are simply un-Canadian. "Women have fought for generations for the right to control their own bodies," he declared at a townhall meeting last week. "When those [anti-abortion] beliefs lead to actions aimed to restrict a woman's right on what to do with her body, that's where we draw the line."
I am a strong advocate of choice. But I don't believe that the substantial minority of Canadians who oppose abortion, or some restrictions on it, are un-Canadian. I believe that the liberal doctrine of diversity should allow us to make room for diverse religious and moral perspectives, just as it does for diverse sexual orientations, ethnic backgrounds and skin tones. Real diversity should allow for views that are not the views of the prevailing liberal elites.
But that is an increasingly unpopular view. People of traditional Christian faith and values are being relentlessly marginalized in the public square. Last fall, Conservative MP Rachael Harder was ousted as chair of the status of women committee because of her anti-abortion views. Mr. Trudeau has decreed that all Liberal MPs must vote pro-choice. Trinity Western, a private Christian liberal-arts university in B.C., is waging what looks like a losing battle to gain accreditation for graduates of its new law school, simply because it will require students to sign a pledge saying they won't have sex outside of heterosexual marriage. Law societies across the country evidently fear that this stricture will turn the law students into raging homophobes and taint them for life. The latest assault on belief is the demand that faith-based hospitals, such as St. Mike's in Toronto – renowned for its deeply felt ethos of caring and compassion – be made to provide medical assistance in dying, despite the fact that this requirement would strike at the heart of these institutions' core Christian values.
"It's a really difficult time for us," Ms. Redshaw told me. "We look at each other and we say, 'We know it's going to get worse.'"
In the wake of terrible publicity, there are signs that the government is trying to walk back its new restriction on summer-job grants. Even so, Ms. Redshaw is right. We are getting very near the point where people with explicitly religious values will have no more role to play in mainstream society. As the brilliant writer Yuval Noah Harari observes, "God is dead – it's just taking a while to get rid of the body." The idea that people are obliged to order their lives and society according to the moral codes established by a higher power is regarded by the educated elites as nothing more than primitive superstition. In its place, we have created a new religion based on individualism and self-fulfillment – something that the Christian conservative writer Rod Dreher calls "an emotion-based spirituality of self-fulfillment."
I am as lapsed a Christian as they come. But I have a lot of time for people such as Mr. Dreher, who argue that the new orthodoxy of secular individualism is no more tolerant of difference than any other faith. We just don't see it – because, like all true believers, we believe that people who don't agree with us suffer from disordered thinking.
The law increasingly exists not to protect minority opinion but to impose majority opinion, Mr. Dreher has written. "Those institutions that hold to Christian orthodoxy are going to be increasingly isolated and stigmatized."
That is why you will find Mr. Trudeau in mosques, temples, shrines and smudging ceremonies. But one place you won't find him is in Pastor Jones's or Ms. Redshaw's church. Diversity is all very well – but only when it's good for the brand.