EDMONTON — A Canadian pastor is standing firm after being ordered to allow gay-straight alliances to be formed at his Christian schools.
According to reports, on Sept. 2, Alberta Education Minister David Eggen sent a letter to Brian Coldwell, the chairman of the Independent Baptist Christian Education Society and pastor of New Testament Baptist Church, to demand that he allow the alliances at his two schools as per provincial law.
Coldwell runs Meadows Baptist Academy and Harvest Baptist Academy in Parkland County.
Earlier this year, Eggen sent a letter to school boards throughout the province, advising that officials must draft and submit policies by the end of March surrounding how they would accommodate homosexual and transgender students.
But Coldwell told CBC News that he would not comply.
“I have a duty as a pastor to protect the flock of God,” he said. “And there is no way under heaven I’m going to allow gay activists to come in here and basically undermine our ministries and our religious freedoms or confuse and corrupt our children.”
“To be able to come into religious institutions, Christian schools, churches and demand that they can set up their GSA clubs and have a platform to advance what I would call anti-Christian, hostile liberal, secular values that really undermine our Christian faith,” Coldwell said.
Therefore, Eggen sent Coldwell a letter this month, laying down a deadline of two weeks to send written assurance that gay-straight alliances would be allowed at his school. Coldwell again refused, and instead, Eggen received a letter from Coldwell’s attorney.
“They did not change their position,” Eggen told reporters on Monday. “They did not give us any indication that they would provide written assurance that they would allow students to form a gay-straight alliance.”
On Friday, Eggan posted an open letter to students within the province, advising, “You have the right to create a gay-straight alliance or a queer-straight alliance, and you have the right to name your clubs this way. You have the right to use the washroom that is consistent with your gender identity.”
Coldwell says that students are free to choose other schools if they don’t align with the Christian faith and its teachings on sexuality.
“If a student doesn’t agree with our statement of faith, and our Christian moral values and so forth, then they have the option of attending many other schools—secular schools, non-religious schools,” he told the CBC. “We’re not saying that the gay community doesn’t have any rights. But they just don’t have the right to come in here and push their agenda, or what you might call the rainbow ideology.”
Eggan has now launched a formal inquiry into the Independent Baptist Christian Education Society. He said that the society could possibly lose its charter or the $2.5 million in funding it receives from the government.
Kris Wells of the Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services at the University of Alberta told Global News that he would like for Eggan to be even stricter in his enforcement.
“If you don’t comply with the law, then there are consequences,” he said. “I’m not sure how many more opportunities school boards need to be given.”
Groups like Wells’ believe that the government should have created one uniform policy and required all schools to conform.
“What we’ve seen is what we thought would happen,” he said. “Schools are not going to comply no matter how many chances they get.”