Friday, September 28, 2018
Taking Inclusivity to the Streets
Windermere United Church is a Toronto congregation with a commitment to radical inclusivity. The minister, Rev. Alexa Gilmour, has championed refugees and was involved in the community vigil for those killed in the terrible van attack earlier this year which killed a number of people.
This commitment includes literally taking the message to the street with a sign which changes from week to week, proclaiming support for Pride Week and shout-outs to other religions as they enter into high and holy days. This became an issue for Windermere and another UCC congregation through the summer. The same company owns and services both their street signs and the owner refused Pride messages and a supportive message to the Muslim commnunity, in Windermere's case.
Now the Windermere congregation has filed a human rights complaint against Archer Mobile Signs and its owner Steven Thompson. Thompson says that these messages are contrary to his religious beliefs as a Christian, even though he has posted support of the Jewish community. It sounds as though Thompson may be homophobic and Islamaphobic, believing that his Christian faith calls him to draw this line in the sand. Chances are good that he'll lose, as have others who are providing a public service but want to bring their personal beliefs to bear in a way that is considered racist or exclusionary.
This story is a reminder of the wide spectrum of outlooks about the gospel of Jesus Christ and what Christians perceive as the appropriate stand in certain circumstances. It will be interesting to see where this goes and how each will be regarded by the broader community.