A Norwegian wilderness tourism company apparently rejected a Canadian woman’s job application on the basis of her faith. She is a Christian and graduated from a university that has students sign an agreement to not engage in sexual relations outside heterosexual marriage.
Bethany Paquette graduated with a biology degree from Trinity Western University (TWU) in Langley, British Columbia (B.C.), about 30 miles east of Vancouver. She submitted an application to be a guide for Canada’s North for Amaruk, which “specializes in private guiding…custom expeditions throughout the world for private clients.”
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) News reports Paquette, an experienced river rafting guide, received an email response from the company’s hiring manager, Olaf Amundsen, who told Paquette her alma mater’s values did not match Amaruk’s:
“Unlike Trinity Western University, we embrace diversity, and the right of people to sleep with or marry whoever they want.
“The Norse background of most of the guys at the management level means that we are not a Christian organization, and most of us actually see Christianity as having destroyed our culture, tradition and way of life.”
Paquette wrote Amundsen back, arguing the rejection was a contraction of his values:
“Your disagreement with Trinity Western University, simply because they do not support sex outside of marriage, can in fact be noted as discrimination of approximately 76 per cent of the world population!!! Wow, that’s a lot of diverse people that you don’t embrace.”
She told CBC News that she wrote Norse people chose Christianity, and she signed her email, “God Bless,” in part because she knew it would irritate him, to which Amundsen replied:
“I do not want to be blessed by some guy… who has been the very reason for the most horrendous abuses and human rights violations in the history of the human race.”
He also wrote that he would “f–k” God. CBC News provided the full email exchange (Warning: content contains explicit language).
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Paquette filed a 20 point complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Commission, one which asserts the “refusals constituted discrimination on the basis of political beliefs that [Amundsen and other Amaruk employees named in the complaint] assumed are held by Ms. Paquette, including but not limited to the assumed political belief that TWU should have the freedom to hold its community covenant as a valid exercise of freedom of religion.”
Geoffrey Trotter, Paquette’s attorney, told CBC News the emails were “nasty” and “over the top.”
“You are not allowed in British Columbia to refuse to hire someone because you associate them with other people, from centuries ago, who you think they did something they shouldn’t have done.”
In the complaint, Trotter is seeking for Paquette a declaration from Amaruk about the refusal to hire his client based on her faith, an order that the company cease to hire based on religious beliefs, compensation for salary lost and expenses incurred, and even “compensation for injury to feelings and self-respect or to either of them.”
A statement from Amaruk, sent to CBC News by Amundsen, says that Paquette was rejected “solely based” on the fact that she did not meet the minimum qualifications.
“Any further discussion after that, including the fact that we strongly disagree with the position that gay people should not be allowed to marry or even engage in sexual relationships, would have been a mere expression of opinion.”
TWU spokesperson Guy Saffold said, “Canadians shouldn’t be treated this way by a foreign country. No faith should face discrimination.”
“Mocking of their religion – there is a personal shaming element to it that was most unfortunate.”
Photo credit: shutterstock.com
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