“Conscience Rights” Defense Attorney Albertos Polizogopoulos Speaking at 20th Annual Focus On Life Gala Dinner
When Alberto Polizogopoulos decided to go to law school, he was dreaming of the same thing many law students dream of: a lucrative career and making a name for himself. What he didn’t see himself doing back then was becoming a champion of religious freedom for little or no pay and with considerable personal and professional criticism.
Polizogopoulos was a staunch atheist when he began law school. Then he met Faye Sonier. She was beautiful, brilliant…. and a born-again Christian. Motivated by a desire to impress her, he accepted her challenge to take an objective look at the Bible's stories and claims.
What he expected to do was poke holes in the case for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Instead, he couldn’t refute a single claim of the Bible. He became a Christian, and later married Sonier.
He also developed a passion for “conscience rights.” Although he has become conspicuously associated with defending faith-based organizations and causes, like the Trinity Western University law school case, “conscience rights” reaches beyond the realm of any one religion. In fact, it extends beyond the borders of religion and to all Canadians, even those who don’t adhere to a particular faith or religious practice.
“‘Conscience” is a broad term that includes religious views,” Polizogopoulos stated. “Not all people subscribe to a religious worldview or have a set of religious beliefs by which they live, but all people have a conscience. Conscience is where one finds their morals and ethics.”
While a person of faith would most likely have a conscience that is guided by their religious beliefs, even a non-religious person still adheres to a particular set of ethics and moral standards. Any law or government ruling that threatens a person’s conscience rights, therefore, applies to religious and non-religious people equally. This is why, for Polizogopoulos, this issue of “conscience rights” is equally relevant to all Canadians.
Polizogopoulos cited the Trinity Western law school case as a prime example, and called it “the most important religious freedom case the Supreme Court has heard since the Charter of Rights and Freedoms was introduced in 1982.” The outcome of this case will determine whether or not graduates of TWU law school will be allowed to practice law in some parts of Canada.
The opposition that has been raised hinges on TWU’s views on the Biblical definition of marriage. Certain governing bodies of the practice of law in Canada, including the Law Society of British Columbia, have said they will refuse to admit TWU law school graduates to the practice of law because they believe that TWU law grads do not have an “inclusive” view of marriage.
“Win or lose [this case], it will set the course for religious freedom in Canada for the next 20 years. The implications of a loss are wide and far reaching,” Polizogopoulos declared.
In recent years, Polizogopoulos has made a name for himself as an advocate for medical professionals who do not want to be compelled to perform, or even refer patients for, assisted suicide procedures. It is a deeply polarizing issue, and people either love or hate Polizogopoulos for his stand against compelled assisted suicide.
It is just one of the life-affirming issues that Polizogopoulos is passionate about. He and his wife, Faye Sonier, will be appearing at the 20th annual Focus on Life Gala Dinner, sponsored by Focus on Life, a consortium of Signal Hill, the Archdiocese of Vancouver and the Christian Advocacy Society. The yearly event raises funds for life-affirming media initiatives in the Greater Vancouver region. Here, Polizogopoulos will share his experiences working on the assisted-suicide issue as well as his heart for the pro-life movement.
This year’s Gala Dinner is being held on Monday, May 28 at the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre located at 1088 Burrard Street in Vancouver. Tickets are $85 each, or $800 for a table of ten. To purchase tickets, click here or call 604-532-0023.
This article written by Jenny Schweyer first appeared in The Light Magazine, May 2018.