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LETTER: Langley churches offer in-person services precisely because they care about people

Letter writer concerned Township councillor wants to punish churches with tax threat

Dear Editor,

I was discouraged when I read an alarming article on the CBC website:

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/churches-violating-covid-19-rules-should-lose-tax-grant-says-township-of-langley-councillor-1.5871003

If accurate, Coun. Kim Richter is angry and intends to punish religious “organizations” for exercising their charter freedoms of religion and peaceful assembly.

• READ MORE: Township could strip tax break from churches defying COVID health orders

Peter A. Allard School of Law Assistant Professor Brian Bird has discussed his charter concerns with the worship bans in two recent Vancouver Sun articles:

https://vancouversun.com/opinion/brian-bird-banning-religious-gatherings-defies-common-sense-and-perhaps-the-constitution

https://vancouversun.com/opinion/brian-bird-the-ban-on-in-person-worship-continues-in-b-c-along-with-the-wait-for-a-compelling-reason-why

The BC Civil Liberties Association expressed their constitutional concerns with the COVID-19 Related Measures Act:

4 Reasons We Are Concerned About BC’s COVID-19 Law

Finally, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and BC Civil Liberties Association expressed their charter concerns with the Provincial Health Orders lack of concern for faith communities:

https://mailchi.mp/ccla/religious-associations?e=0d0d4e962f

• READ MORE: Suspending in-person church services called an ‘act of Christian charity’ by Langley pastor

Given the current climate of anger and exclusion, I hope that Coun. Richter will learn to express concern, care and respect for those whose religious views differ from her own. Langley needs less anger and more love, and our council needs to lead by example.

Anger only creates walls and hinders mutual understanding, but as an elected official Coun. Richter should build bridges and reach out to her constituents who do, in fact, pay taxes. As she well knows, we all pay taxes to subsidize programs we might not personally approve of, but we don’t get angry. Instead, we do our part by supporting one another – this is the cost of living in a diverse and pluralistic society.

• READ MORE: Police warned Langley church it will face more fines for in-person worship: court documents

Religious “organizations” that are currently open, love their neighbour instead of harbouring anger against those who hold a different opinion from them. They provide support with respect to grief, spiritual need, disability, substance use, addiction or another psychological, mental or physical health condition.

They meet in-person precisely because they care about others.

• READ MORE: As many as 19 Fraser Valley churches have defied a COVID-related ban on in-person worship

Although I respect Coun. Richter’s charter freedom of opinion to disagree angrily with the exercise of their charter freedom of association, I sincerely hope she will strive to take a more inclusive approach, one that shows love and respect for the religious diversity that exists within the Township of Langley.

Garry Vanderveen, Milner

• READ MORE: Pastor of Langley church fined for in-person services speaks out against harassment of person who reported them

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Langley Advance Times

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