REGINA, Saskatchewan — Two Christians who focus their ministry efforts on the defense of the biblical family were arrested on a Canadian university campus on Monday after officials asked them to leave when they disagreed with the content of the literature that they sought to distribute.
Peter LaBarbera, the director of the U.S.-based Christian ministry Americans for Truth about Homosexuality, and Canadian activist Bill Whatcott were placed in handcuffs and escorted off the University of Regina campus when they refused to leave.
“We are a diverse campus. We are a welcoming campus,” Vice President Tom Chase told reporters. “We celebrate that diversity, and our staff felt that the material and some of the things they had with them simply contravened that policy and we asked them to leave.”
But Whatcott asserted that the men had a right to be on campus and that they should not be censored for the content of their speech.
“I’m not leaving,” Whatcott told university officials after being barred from distributing the literature, according to reports. “You guys are intolerant and should be ashamed of yourselves for shutting down our message without even considering it.”
When Whatcott and LaBarbera proceeded with their outreach, they were arrested, charged with mischief and later released. However, university officials told CBC News that the Christians would be monitored for any behavior that could promote hatred against homosexuals.
“I’m a Christian. I can’t hate people,” LaBarbera told reporters after the incident. “We all struggle with sin—[homosexuality] just doesn’t happen to be my sin. But the idea that you can’t have an open debate on homosexuality on a college campus and that some speech code is brought in to kick people off because they have a viewpoint that most students probably haven’t heard, seems to me to be pretty undemocratic.”
He was wearing a t-shirt with text regarding “hate crimes against Christians who disagree with homosexuality” when he was escorted away in handcuffs.
As previously reported, LaBarbera spent hours responding to questions from authorities with the Canada Border Services Agency last Thursday night after his flight landed Regina, Saskatchewan. He was stopped as he sought entrance into the country as a scheduled speaker at the Saskatchewan Pro-Life Association conference, held this past weekend.
According to reports, the Canadian Border Services agency was allegedly responding to a campaign initiated by the homosexual rights group Intolerance Free Weyburn, which was set to stop LaBarbera from crossing the Canadian border. LaBarbera was told that he was being detained over a possible violation of the Criminal Code of Canada regarding the “public incitement of hatred,” and his belongings were searched. He reappeared before the Canadian Border Service on Friday for an appeal, at which time the decision to deny entry was reversed.
“[The guards] said quite simply and immediately that the person in charge did not feel they had grounds to apply the hate propaganda law to my appearance,” LaBarbera told the Leader-Post following the hearing. “That’s gratifying, as always.”
LaBarbera and Whatcott are scheduled to appear in court on May 26. The plan to continue their outreach at the University of Saskatchewan today.
Photo: CBC News