Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Here's a mixed-up story...

...Christian group appeals human rights violation CTV/CP
TORONTO -- A provincially funded Christian group is appealing part of a tribunal ruling that found it violated the rights of a worker who had to quit after revealing she was gay.

Ontario's Human Rights Tribunal ordered Kitchener-based Christian Horizons to compensate Connie Heintz and to end a code-of-conduct agreement for its 2,500 employees.

The contract, which all staff must sign, forbids workers from cheating on their spouses, having pre-marital sex or homosexual relationships, using pornography, and "endorsing" alcohol or tobacco.

The group says it will no longer require employees to sign the agreement, but it will be appealing the remainder of the tribunal's order.

The evangelical organization is funded almost entirely by the province and operates more than 180 residential homes in Ontario for people with developmental disabilities.
Just exactly *how* did the Christian organization violate the rights of the worker involved? After all, it was the worker who actually signed and then broke the contract.

So, lets sort out this *some* of the right and wrong in this story:

1) a Christian group ought to be able to demand its employees uphold what it sees as "christian" standards. That's a no-brainer; after all, people can freely choose to work for the organization, or not. I guess it's also perfectly OK if they decide they don't want employees to sign such a contract, too--but they equally ought not to be forced into that decision.

2) The government ought not to fund religious organizations, for any reason. That's a no brainer, too; religious people can fund religious organizations if they want them enough. In the same vein, why should (for example) atheists be forced through taxation to support religious organizations? Why should, say, gays be forced to support organizations that don't like them (and wouldn't choose to hire them)?

3) Not that The State ought to be in the charity business in the first place, but it still remains that if I hire someone to do something, I accept their standards or I don't hire them in the first place. That's a no-brainer, too. Why was the government hiring an agency whose ethical (as in hiring) standards were at odds with its own standards?

4) Any agency, religious or otherwise, equally, ought to accept the standards of its employer, or it ought not to work for them. The religious organization in question knew full well it was accepting a secular task, on behalf of a nominally secular government--and it knew the sort of HR practices that are part of that package. The religious organization was fully free to try to help disabled people on its own terms without being hired by the government, without accepting the State's payments.

5) The religious organization had an employment contract that an employee freely signed. The employee then broke the terms of the contract. Instead of faulting the employee for breaking the contract, the so-called "Human Rights Tribunal" of Ontario instead ruled that the organization owed the contract-breaking employee some compensation.

6) Why would a gay person choose to work for a homophobic employer...and lie to do it?

So what we have is a lovely mish-mash of unprincipled behaviour on pretty much everyone's part. And the result?

The result is that now religious organizations don't even have the right to insist that their employees meet their moral standards.

In other words, the result is stupid.

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