Tolerance : A Two-Way Street?

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by Jim Bertram

Last week’s paper included an article on the front page concerning the rink proposal put forward by the Southgate Church. Numerous points were made concerning opposition to the project. Some of those points had to do with location and other issues of a practical nature. However, one point was made in that article which requires particular attention. That point was that some members of the community would feel uncomfortable on church property “…because of its Wesleyan faith which considers homosexuality as contrary to the will of God.”

Notwithstanding the energy expended by the members of this church to provide a public good (the proposed rink), in spite of the numerous positive acts of participation locally in the past in a number of areas providing social goods to our community, our municipal government was asked to reject a significant and positive project offered by this church to ALL members of our community. In spite of the record of positive engagement with the North Grenville community by this church, we are to turn on them and spurn their project which offers good to all. All this because their church adheres to points of view on homosexuality which do not align comfortably with the views of others.

Holly Brown, founder of Rainbow Union, Dundas and Grenville (RUDG) recently co-ordinated the municipality’s first-ever Pride parade which I and many others attended on June 1. She is quoted in the newspaper ‘Inside Ottawa Valley.com’ as saying the rink would not be safe or inclusive for members of the LGBTQ2+ community if it’s located on the property of a Wesleyan Church. “I propose it is not only unethical, but perhaps even unlawful, to apply as a co-applicant with Southgate Church,” she said with reference to a proposed joint Trillium Grant application with the municipality.

So there you have it. The application of an active and positive member of the North Grenville community for a project which would provide much good for the community is attacked because the members of this church would somehow (???) provide an unsafe environment for LGBTQ people. Given my acquaintance with many people of the Southgate Community, I would qualify such comments as total politically motivated rubbish meant to slander a dynamic and positive portion of the North Grenville community. The same people who rightly shout to the rooftops when slanderous comments about LGBTQ people are made, seem to show no reticence themselves when attacking and misrepresenting those whose views apparently don’t conform with theirs in all aspects.

A few weeks ago, when I attended the Pride parade, I thought I was attending a positive addition to the local community’s list of social activities. I actually looked forward to it. I did not feel at that time that I was participating in part of a political project. Was I wrong? Does the Pride organisation stand for a hostile approach toward other groups of people in North Grenville who have their own points of view on a range of subjects? If so, I would propose that the opening up of our community to a wide range of points of view, discussion and mutual learning has been dealt a blow.

In the final analysis, I am not a member of the Southgate Community. Nor am I a member of the LGBTQ community. But if we have gotten to the point in North Grenville where we actually cannot deal with each other in a practical sense because we hold different private views on certain ideas, we should stop and think. If for practical reasons the proposed rink must not be approved (distance, financing), so be it. If, however, the project is to be stopped because of slanders and rubbish being directed toward the Southgate Community, then it is apparent that openness and interaction among individuals and groups with its attendant opportunities for learning and other social goods has indeed been harmed. I believe an apology to the Southgate Community is in order. And I believe the municipality must be very clear in enunciating the reasons for any decision which they make on the subject of the Southgate application.

14 COMMENTS

  1. This is a really great article! Southgate is an involve church that is nothing but inclusive. There doesn’t need to be a divide in the community.

  2. Not sure this church actually denies any rights. I worship God at SGCC and my best friend is gay. No-one seeing us together could immediately mark him as gay. Its not like he stands out in some way; he and his partner are discreet and they choose to declare themselves only to those they trust. Building a rink for public good benefits all public members who choose to come. My best friend would be accepted as is if he came to skate, or indeed if he came to worship God with us. (And really we are all sinners before God, it is only through His grace and mercy that we are forgiven and saved.)

  3. To John Haselmayer’s concluding statement (1st letter above), I must say that we (the Out Door Rink team of volunteers) do contribute our time, energy, and efforts in providing ODR as public skating rink for enjoyment of all public. Our rink happens to be located on church property; where else can we build it that does not affect taxes? Who in the municipality is also willing to work with us on volunteer basis to maintain the ice, regardless of where it is located? This is truly a two way street. All citizens of municipality should find ways of working together toward common good.

  4. Based on the Wesleyan position statement regarding homosexuality one group here is denying basic civil and human rights and one is being asked to accept that denial. That is very much a one way street.

  5. So you are asking lgbtq people to be tolerant of intolerance!?

    You do realize that the foundation of pride and its parade is political right!? Pride arose out of a need to rise up against intolerance and violence to our community. Now you ask us to be tolerant for the sake of “all”. I’m sorry sir but that’s not how tolerance works. You should be asking the Southgate church to publicly denoubce the aspect of their faith that makes it homophobic. Not asking Holly for an apology. Shame!

  6. As an adherent (not a member), I agree that God judges the quick and the dead; it is not up to us (humans) to make judgments. We are called to love all people, being tolerant of all who sin… which includes each one of us. All people are sinners; only God through His grace and mercy can forgive and save us. God doesn’t call the perfect; He perfects the called (at least, those who answer).

    Canada is about multi-culturalism. People of different cultures work together to get along. Yes, I realize LGBTQ Pride is a political movement, and perhaps a culture in its own right. I disagree that people of one culture have to apologize to people of another culture, in order to be considered tolerant.

    In essence, I believe my culture is correct, and yet it is wrong for me to impose my beliefs on people of other cultures. I may try to approach open-minded people to discuss our differences, but never more than that. Am I being “intolerant”? I don’t think so.

    As I said above, my best friend is gay. Do I judge him? No! I welcome all people who cross my path, be they First Nations, Hindu, Muslim, …, or LGBTQ. God is love, and we are called to love like God. I do believe I am being tolerant. What more can I say?

  7. To all who have problems with an organization, religious or not, that rejects nature:
    We are being force-fed this propaganda about same-sex acts almost daily. The flag should never have been raised at the Municipal Centre and there should never have been a “pride” parade in our town.
    This parade represents a powerful, left-aligned political movement that focuses exclusively on the sexuality and sexual practices of a small minority of the population. Not only is it highly inappropriate for the town of Kemptville, by allowing this parade and especially by flying these flags, to push a particular brand of politics on its citizenry, it is highly offensive for the town to promote and advocate for particular sexual practices in public, especially aberrant ones. As former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau famously said, “there’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation.
    Tolerance is indeed a two-way street.
    There are some things, however, that can never be tolerated. Any form of using God’s gift of procreation for selfish (or recreational) purposes is one.
    Do not forget, long before “Pride Month” was ever dreamed of the Month of June is the Month of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
    Dominus tecum, Reg

  8. R.W Smiths comment is the reason why pride exists. Its the reason why I fight for human rights. This man is a disgrace. Im so disgusted. Kemptville: there’s your bigot stright out of Gods closet!

  9. Jim Bertram is one of the most tolerant people I know in this community and he has presented a balanced and fair point of view in his article. I have friends and relatives who are gay but what makes them special to me are not that they’re gay but that they are kind, considerate, open minded, respectful and fair, the same qualities I strive for in my life. The true measure and value of a person to me has nothing to do with their sexuality.

  10. “there’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation” but apparently R.W. gets a free pass!

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