Residents in Labrador City are angry and offended after receiving a letter in the mail containing a biblical passage critical of homosexuality.
The passage, which quotes Romans 1:21-28, states in part “For this cause God gave them up to vile affections for even their woman did exchange the natural use for that which is against nature; And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another, men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was fitting.”
This is a passage often quoted to show that the Bible condemns homosexuality.
Cindy Morris, who is on the board of the local Pride committee, was one of the Labrador City residents who received the sealed envelope containing the pamphlet. She was enraged when she saw the bible passage referring to homosexuality.
“The first page was just going on about the apocalypse…I didn’t think anything of that,” said Morris. “I kind of got a vibe from it…so I flipped to the second page and that’s where it started going on about when women stop doing what their supposed to do and when men lie with other men and all this stuff. That’s not good with me.
“Just when you get comfortable being in the queer community and being out and proud, stuff like this shows up and it makes you feel like, ‘maybe I should be quiet or maybe I should keep to myself.’"
Sarah Montague, who is also on Pride committee, said she was disgusted when she read the pamphlet.
“My first reaction was disgust, absolute disgust,” said Montague.
“Things like this are so disheartening. It’s so important, I think, in 2019, to place more value on human rights than this kind of crap.”
Montague was also disturbed that the pamphlet used religion to try and justify a homophobic message.
“Everybody should have the right to worship and feel comfortable in a place of worship and not have to feel ostracized by church,” said Montague.
According to a stamp on the back of the envelope, the pamphlet was sent by Arthur Riche. This isn’t the first time Riche has used Canada Post to distribute controversial religious pamphlets. For years, Riche had put such material in people’s mailboxes in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.
In 2014, one of Riche’s pamphlets made national headlines due to its extremely hateful condemnation of homosexuality. Part of the pamphlet even references the passage from Romans, stating “God makes it clear from Romans 1:24-27 that homosexuality is a sin,” and “It is wrong for a court and a nation to give special status to any group of people who are identified in the Bible as sinners under the judgment of God.”
Riche’s 2014 Pamphlet was originally published by the People’s Gospel Hour – a group based out of Halifax. It’s not clear if the same group also published Riche’s Labrador City pamphlet.
Riche’s 2014 pamphlet also attempted to link homosexuality with violence, stating: “I want you to observe another truth about homosexuality. It is almost always violent. Homosexuality is still associated with violence.”
After the story went viral following coverage by The Labradorian, Canada Post issued a public apology.
“Spokeswoman Anick Losier says Canada Post apologizes to anyone who was offended by the flyers that quoted Bible verses to condemn gay marriage and homosexuality,” reads a Canadian Press story from 2014.
“Losier says the flyers should not have been accepted for mailing. She says Canada Post is now reviewing its processes to ensure similar material is not delivered in future.”
Canada Post was not apologetic, however, over Arthur Riche’s latest flyer in Labrador City. Spokesperson Hayley Magermans said in an email that the publisher or sender of the mail is the person responsible for the contents.
“The content of any mail item is the sole responsibility of its publisher or sender. Anyone who has concerns about the content of any unaddressed material should either dispose of it or contact the publisher or sender of the item,” reads the statement. “Subject to the exceptions set out in the Non-mailable Matter regulations and other criteria relating to packaging and postage, Canada Post is required by law to deliver all items of mail that are deposited with it.”
When confronted with the fact that Canada Post apologized for delivering a similar pamphlet back in 2014 from Arthur Riche, and questioned on whether or not Canada Post had any policy on hate speech, a second spokesperson, Phil Legault, reiterated that all mail had to be delivered by law.
“Canada Post does not censure the mail. Subject to the exceptions set out in the Non-mailable Matter regulations, Canada Post is required by law to deliver all items of mail that are deposited with it. While we understand how the contents may offend some recipients, we cannot refuse to deliver an item on that basis.”
Sarah Montague, however, believes Canada Post was irresponsible for allowing this pamphlet to be circulated in Labrador City.
“Canada Post allowing this to circulate…For what? What do they make on the circulation of it – four or five hundred dollars? It can’t be any great amount that’s worth allowing this stuff to circulate. I’m at a loss for words really,” said Montague.
“Freedom of speech is important, but your freedom of speech can’t be reckless enough that it impedes somebody else’s basic human rights. It can’t jeopardize diversity and inclusion in our society, it can’t marginalize people; that’s not freedom of speech. It made me very, very angry that this was allowed to circulate.”
Arthur Riche could not be reached for comment.