In Canada, Christians who want to be doctors have questions about religious liberty and their right to express unpopular opinions on social media.
Evangelical med students and pro-life physicians across Canada celebrated with Rafael Zaki when the Coptic Christian won a Manitoba court appeal that quashed his university’s decision to expel him over Facebook posts.
But that doesn’t mean they’re ready to start broadcasting their own personal beliefs about abortion, euthanasia, or the value of human life on social media.
“I think it’s fair to say that students are not comfortable disclosing their faith perspective,” said Larry Worthen, executive director of the Christian Medical and Dental Association of Canada (CMDA).
The CMDA regularly hears from students concerned about their rights to hold minority opinions on abortion, which is legal in all stages of pregnancy, and medical assistance in dying, which the Canadian government recently expanded to sick and disabled people without terminal illnesses. Though few students are actually expelled, several every year come into conflict with school administrators because of their faith.
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the “fundamental freedom” of conscience and religion, as well as “thought, belief, opinion, and expression,” but that didn’t keep the University of Manitoba from expelling Zaki over what he shared on Facebook.
Worthen describes Zaki’s situation as “extreme” but says it does raise concerns.
“This seems to us to be quite disturbing and appalling in this day and age, that the Charter rights that were guaranteed under our national constitution were not considered by the medical school in the processing of this concern and issue,” he said.
Zaki, who emigrated to Canada from Egypt as a child, enrolled in the …