Mr. Mayor Naheed Nenshi Friday, 27 February 2012
Sir, in all due respect to the office that you are carrying, when you were elected you swore that you would uphold the law of this great country of Canada. Furthermore you pledged to represent all, and I mean ALL, the citizens of Calgary. Not only homosexuals that you led in their parade, or the rich developers that are able to repay you for your kind considerations, or Muslims that you cherish and favour because of your mutual background values. And of course let us not forget about your huge support towards the infamous occupiers, for them you seemed willing to give up your left arm just to accommodate them in allowing that group to continue breaking dozens of this city’s laws. Let me remind you that you did not even reply to the invitation that we sent to you for the March for Jesus.
And then there comes the Street church events, the ministry that gives over 200,000 meals per year to the most vulnerable citizens, that you should also represent. To this day not one word of recognition, appreciation or even a polite acknowledgement has been made by your office for the many years of the faithful volunteers that have been saving the lives of Calgarians that have been intrusted in to your care. Oh, i forgot, the ministry mentions the name of Jesus Christ. I do not believe that i am exaggerating by asserting that right here lies the problem with you. If it was “Buddha” or “Muhammad” or perhaps in the name of “Food truck project” or something else except Jesus of course, that would bring a different outcome.
I guess the equality ends when you disagree with something and by the way, that would be easy to swallow because everyone has their beliefs and convictions, that’s what we love about this country. After all, democracy is a beautiful gift given to us by the shedding of the blood of our patriotic forefathers. So many have died that we all can live peacefully in today’s society. When you took the office of servitude, the mayors chair, you swore to represent those that you like and those that you don’t care much for. And sir, again, that is just human nature and we understand that. In this world you cannot love everybody, only Christ’s Spirit in man can do that. So of course every person will have his preferences and that includes us as well as you. We understand that you do not care much for us, this we can live with.
But Mr. Mayor, what is unacceptable is the treatment that we have received under your supervision. Since you were elected, we did absolutely everything in our power to either meet with you face to face and bring much needed reconciliation between the Street Church Ministries and City Hall. A number of times we have filled out request forms to schedule a meeting with you through the proper channels (about 20 requests were submitted to your office). You have received hundreds of complaints from many different individuals requesting answers relating to how you have allowed or perhaps ordered harassment, intimidation, arrests and bullying of Christians in the city of Calgary. Your lack of response (we are not talking about your deliberate misleading response that was given to concerned citizens about what is really taking place that came from your office) refusal to meet and discuss, look for solutions or find common ground is proving more and more to any reasonable observer that you, sir, perhaps are not fit to be in a place of leadership or authority over anyone.
The office of a mayor is a gift from citizens that have put trust in an individual believing that person will represent the law, their rights and interests. This office also brings enormous responsibilities. But you sir, are sitting on that chair like you are riding a bull. It’s your way or everyone in your way will be trampled. Let us remind you that this is Canada, not China, not Russia, nor Iran. In this country you respect peoples rights not only those that you personally support but all peoples rights. Maybe that is unfortunate for you but you are commanded by law in that office that you hold to respect and to protect the rights of Christians as well. What you do personally in your private life that’s your business. What you do as a mayor is the taxpayers business, our business.
We were accused of not willing to submit proper applications to hold prayer and worship inside City Hall and this is simply not true. For about a month we were in open negotiation between head of corporate security Owen Key. During our discussions we voiced our concerns that the application for the use of the city hall atrium and plaza were unacceptable. It is a legal binding document, a contract if you will, that requires citizens to submit to the guidelines that are, in fact, unconstitutional. How can any person that values their rights, sign a contract that breaks the most fundamentally guaranteed freedoms under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In your documents you require citizens to give up their rights.
Here are the main problems with the usage rules as they pertain to the nature of the gathering Street Church was holding (direct quotes from the usage terms for the atrium):
The following events or activities are not allowed in the “space”:
Spontaneous activities, Religious activities during business hours, Political demonstration or any activity that is considered political, Public rallies, Campaigning or soliciting of any kind [including giving out pamphlets or other documentation], Press conferences.
Responsibility of applicant
The applicant must maintain a commercial general liability insurance policy in the amount of not less than Two Million Dollars ($2,000,000) inclusive limit for any one occurrence and such insurance policy shall include: The City of Calgary as an additional insured, A cross liability clause; and Products and completed operations coverage. Marketing / Signage All signage and banners must be approved by the City Clerk’s Office. The City reserves the right to remove any signage deemed inappropriate. No hand-written signs permitted.
Applicant can only apply for the use of the “space” once per year.
A more detailed explanation may be found at http://www.streetchurch.ca/press-coverage-topmenu-33/821-why-the-lies
As you can see, the request to submit an illegal application like this would create even more problems for any law abiding citizen.
Consider this letter as an official complaint against your office, the corporate security that is acting in your behalf and your law department that is some how encouraging this ongoing harassment on Christian citizens. Please stop this prejudice. Because of your action and that of your personnel (putting pressure on volunteers and using intimidation tactics by bringing cameras by officers to record parishioners as if they were doing something illegal, and harassing and arresting law abiding citizens that are simply exercising their rights in the public square) it created a situation last Tuesday, that one of the parishioners felt such pressure that he had to be taken to the hospital by ambulance. Thank God that nothing more serious has emerged from this. Sir, do we have to wait until something more serious happens? Please stop this unrighteous and anti Christian agenda.
Let’s sit down and come to a mature and mutual agreement. Prayer and worship inside City Hall is nothing extraordinary or new in Canada. In one of our neighbouring provinces, British Columbia, there are about 30 municipalities including Vancouver and Surrey that have this kind of services inside their city hall chambers. And not only in municipalities but also in the provincial and federal buildings across Canada. So what we are asking is very simple, allow us to worship and pray to the living God in a place that belongs to all citizens of this country.
We regularly pray for you and believe us God says in His Holy scripture, the Bible, that the prayer of a righteous man can accomplish a lot. Sir, in all due respect in this city there is a lot more to be accomplished, so let us pray for you and this city in the most appropriate public place, City Hall. I will wait with anticipation for the day of your choosing where we can sit down and put this unfortunate situation behind us.
Thank you for taking the time to read this letter,
Sincerely, Artur Pawlowski
On Behalf of the Christian Community
P.S. Just for your information, the meetings on Tuesday at City Hall, during the lunch hour are not Street Church events. The people that participate in exercising their rights of freedom of religion, freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression are Christians from at least 15 different churches. These are individuals that simply come from various parishes because they care about the city and they want to pray for God’s blessings.