The problem with ‘rights’

Written by Brenda Schimke

Pastor John Van Sloten of Mardo Loop Church in Calgary announced his church’s COVID policy this week.  “We have chosen to be a church that will—on a temporary basis for the sake of the vulnerable people in our community—have a policy that people be double vaccinated to come to live service”, said Van Sloten. 

“Theologically and pragmatically, we’re making room for the weakest, the most vulnerable”. That sounds a lot like Jesus of the Gospels!

That in a nutshell highlights the problem of rights? What happens when your ‘right’ to religious freedom or rights to assemble are curtailed by the rights of the vulnerable, or visa versa?

COVID vaccinations are highly effective. As such, most provincial governments are choosing the rights of the vaccinated and vulnerable over the rights of the unvaccinated.

But not in Alberta. Our school children will again suffer another year of mask mandates, COVID isolation protocols and a broken and unsettled school year.

It doesn’t have to be this way. But, of course, other provinces haven’t had their Premiers, Health Ministers and Chief Medical Officers go AWOL as the fourth wave gains speed.

In British Columbia, by September 21, single vaccination proof is mandatory for residents and visitors to access a broad range of social, recreational and discretionary events and businesses throughout the province. 

By October 24, proof of double vaccination is required.  It’s becoming very apparent that if we can’t get a much larger portion of the population vaccinated, then more separation is needed between the vaccinated and unvaccinated.

Too often, a small number of church groups have been the most vocal in not following COVID public health restrictions. Too often, these vocal dissenters and anti-vaxxers have brought forward multiple frivolous lawsuits. Seems they believe religious freedoms trump the health and welfare of the poor, weak and vulnerable. 

It’s nice to see other church leaders publically stepping forward to model compassion. By doing so, they are raising the profile of Christ’s love versus the self-centeredness of believers like James Coates and his GraceLife Church in Stony Plain.

As Pope Francis said, “vaccination is a simple, but a profound way of promoting the common good and caring for each other, especially the most vulnerable”.

British Columbia has solved that issue of ‘religious freedom’ by placing no restrictions on religious gatherings. You can worship anyway you want, just don’t plan to go out to a restaurant after the service, or have your teenager register for hockey.

Businesses in Alberta are tired, they need to make money, many are still on the brink of bankruptcy. They just can’t afford an endless series of business closures and re-openings. They don’t want to bring in public health measures on their own, but with the Premier, Health Minister and Chief Medical Office missing in action, they have to do whatever it takes to survive, especially those operating in urban areas or events involving large crowds.

Unlike the rest of the country, Alberta’s municipalities, school boards, businesses, organizations and charities will plow through the fourth wave with little provincial government help or more often than not, with added roadblocks.

American author, Ayn Rand wrote, “any alleged ‘right’ of one man, which necessitates the violation of the rights of another, is not and cannot be a right”.

Other provinces understand this democratic principle and do not accept that the rights of anti-vaxxers trump the health and safety of others, or the ability of businesses to survive and profit. 

That in a nutshell explains why Albertans feel so isolated from the rest of Canada, the values of our government are markedly unique.


Brenda Schimke

ECA Review

About the author

Brenda Schimke

Schimke is a Graduate with Distinction from the University of Alberta with a BCom degree. She has lived and worked in Alberta, BC and Ontario.