Think the British government’s campaign to force churches to hire unbelievers won’t happen here in Canada?
Barbara Hoekstra complained she was discriminated when she was not considered for a job for which she applied at a Christian Reformed church in Hamilton. She claims that the reason she was not considered is that her request for membership in the church was denied a year earlier, upon concerns that she was going through a divorce and living with another man.
The fact that the Tribunal even heard the case sends the message loud and clear that the hiring practices of churches are going to be scrutinized. The decision states:
The applicant’s belief that the ad hoc hiring committee was influenced by her life circumstances was not unreasonable.
Members of the church’s hiring committee and council were called in front of the Tribunal to testify. There were, undoubtedly, legal costs incurred by the defendents. In addition, there will undoubtedly be a “chill” placed on the council when considering other requests for membership and applications for employment. It is interesting to note that the church still has two vacant positions that have not been filled since the complaint was filed.
Hoekstra’s opinion of the conduct of the church council is recorded in public legal record:
She accepted that she may not have described all the above circumstances with Pastor Zantingh in their spring 2005 meeting, but she believed that the Pastor should not have made the criticizing comments without having further investigated her circumstances. She also criticized the Elders’ failure to investigate her circumstances before making a judgement about her.
Criticisms to which, of course, the Church could not respond without filing a libel suit.
Here’s where they say, “Quit whining, Scary Fundie! They ultimately dismissed the complaint, so look! The system works!”
Besides the above points on the punishment of the process, one must ask the question: On what grounds was the complaint dismissed? The tribunal let the church go only because it was convinced that the defendants did not take Hoekstra’s “life situation” into account. In other words, if a church does consider a person’s walk before the Lord in their hiring decisions, they would may yet be found in contravention of the Code.
I guess we’d better add a sixty-seventh book.