Appeal Court Reviews Multiple Parenting Concepts: S. 211 Experts, Parenting Coordinators, Maximum Contact

This week the Court of Appeal had the opportunity to review and analyze a number of propositions related to the parenting of children, touching on s. 211 experts, parenting coordinators, final decision-making responsibility, and the Divorce Act’s principle of “maximum contact” with each parent. MFW v. MAH 2020 BCCA

Section 211 Assessors

In the context of a high-conflict custody case and a 26-day trial, the appeal court was asked to green-light the appellant father’s proposition that in the absence of any cross-examination of the s. 211 expert, the court was bound to accept the assessor’s recommendations. The appeal court rejected this notion citing recent decisions of their court which held that judges should not “abdicate” their roles in favour of an assessor’s recommendations. King v. Borserio 2018 BCCA 308.

The Court also declined to accept the father’s argument that a litigant who disagreed with an expert report was “obliged” to cross-examine the expert. The Court noted that the mother had considered issuing a subpoena to the assessor but upon learning of his fee to attend court, determined she could not afford to call him. The Court stated that litigants certainly had an “opportunity” to cross-examine an expert, but they were not obliged to do so .

Parenting Coordinators

Because the trial judge gave the mother final decision-making authority, the father appealed saying that the trial judge erred by “failing to comprehend the role of a parenting coordinator under the Family Law Act”. He asserted, citing FJV v. WKS 2019 BCCA 67, that the court should encourage decision-making by parenting coordinators in high-conflict cases, to avoid court applications.

The Court commented that the interplay between a court order and a parenting coordinator’s authority raised questions and uncertainties given the broad language of the Family Law Regulations. However, the Court could not identify any legal error and noted that the trial judge had appointed a parenting coordinator for a 12-month period, but also ordered that if the parties could not agree on a significant decision despite their best efforts the mother, as guardian, with the majority of parenting time would be entitled to make the decision.

Maximum Contact Principle

The trial judge ordered the children to spend more time with their mother than their father, leading the father to suggest that the trial judge ignored the maximum contact principle in s. 16 (10) of the Divorce Act. The Court refused to accede to this ground of appeal, but their analysis was short-sighted.

The Court suggested that the trial judge had relied on the Family Law Act in respect of the parenting orders saying, “It is therefore the FLA that governs…s. 16 (10) of the Divorce Act says that it applies to a court only when “making an order under this section”, when making a custody order under the federal statute…strictly speaking then the trial judge was not required to consider expressly the maximum contact principle in determining the best interests of the children.”

To their credit, however, the appeal court redeemed themselves, by quite properly adding: “I suspect that such an approach is inherent in a court’s determination of any custody or parenting arrangement.”

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

Court Refuses to Set Aside Consent Order for Med/Arb

The Court in Streifel v. Forcier 2020 BCSC 1346 considered the wife’s application to set aside a consent order, which provided that the parties’ family law trial would be adjourned and that a med/arb would take place with a specified arbitrator. 


Shortly after agreeing to the order, the wife fired her lawyer and retained new counsel, who cited various grounds to set aside the order including fraud, abuse of process, unconscionability, undue influence, economic duress, material non-disclosure, irreparable harm, procedural fairness, and balance of convenience. She also asserted that her former counsel entered into the consent order without explaining the details to her and without her consent. 


The court refused to set aside the consent order noting that the wife had engaged in ongoing behaviour that contributed to the delay of the family law matter by refusing to attend multiple mandatory judicial settlement conferences; failing to attend multiple appointments for her examination for discovery, failing to attend a court hearing and a trial management conference, ignoring correspondence from her husband’s counsel, and she had interfered with the court ordered sale of the family home.

The Court noted that it was open to the wife to bring an application to adjourn the med/arb before the arbitrator.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

Hang Down Your Head George Dooley

George Dooley, of Nova Scotia, came to court seeking to be relieved of his monthly spousal support obligation to his ex-wife, Bernice Dooley, which came into effect in May 2014. The Dooley’s had been married for 34 years, and at the time he sought to vary the spousal support of $5,000 a month, each of them was in their mid-sixties. Dooley v. Dooley 2020 NSSC 109

Mr. Dooley alleged four material changes in his circumstances, as follows:

  1. Canada Revenue Agency had reassessed him and he was required to pay $295,000 in taxes;

b)  he had retired;

c)  he had separated from his second wife, Laurie;

d)  he had financial obligations to the three children of his second marriage.

The court considered each alleged material change in turn, beginning with his CRA reassessment. The evidence indicated that the reassessment took place in 2017 and that he had additional debts including a $375,000 mortgage and $60,000 in consumer debt.  As a result he had declared bankruptcy on May 1, 2017 and was entitled to an automatic discharge in January 2018. 

Rejecting the CRA reassessment as a material change sufficient to invoke section 17 of the Divorce Act, the court remarked that with his bankruptcy, all of his debts disappeared, leaving him in a better position to pay support than before the bankruptcy. The court also noted that arrears of support are not cancelled by a bankruptcy.

With respect to his retirement, the parties’ earlier agreement provided that retirement would be considered a material change in circumstance, however, Bernice Dooley maintained that her ex-husband had not retired. Mr. Dooley opened Dooley’s Pharmacy in 1984 and retained it after their divorce. He began receiving his Canada Pension Plan in 2015 and sold his interest in Dooley’s Pharmacy in September 2015, receiving $455,000 from the sale. He alleged that all of this money was now gone. 

He had also retained the family home after the 2014 divorce, which he renovated shortly thereafter. However, after receiving the funds from the sale of the pharmacy he tore down his newly-renovated home and built two homes on the property, one home for himself, his second wife and her three children; and one for Laurie Dooley’s parents.

After the sale of his business he remained working for the new owner as a pharmacist, with no guaranteed hours. In an affidavit dated August 2016 he deposed that he had not worked since May 2016, however, in a November 2019 affidavit he swore that he continued to work part-time during 2017. He had also worked at several other pharmacies in Nova Scotia prior to his move to Nunavut in September 2017. Throughout the period he maintained his pharmacy license. 

Two months after his divorce from Bernice, he married Laurie Dooley, separating from her 19 months later, but not before he adopted her three children,  10-year old twins, and a 16 year-old. The adoptions were finalized shortly after the date of their separation. His new in-laws lived rent-free in the second home he built. 

The court rejected his assertion that he was retired, remarking that his acquisition of additional financial obligations, including a second wife and three children, led to the conclusion that he could not afford to retire. 

Moving on to consider whether the separation from his second wife and assumption of financial obligations with respect to his three adopted children, constituted a material change,  the court noted that Mr. Dooley failed to provide evidence to establish the circumstances of his newly acquired family at the date of his divorce, making it impossible to determine if a change of circumstance had occurred.

Mr. Dooley and his second wife executed a separation agreement in February 2017, wherein each of them waived spousal support and each kept their own property. They agreed that they would both reside in the family home and either of them could, at a later date, apply to court to divide the home. There were no provisions for custody or child support in the agreement. However, he swore that he paid child support to Laurie Dooley for the three children, in the amount of $2,729, a sum that pursuant to the Nunavut guidelines required an annual income of $137,000.

Mr. Dooley’s evidence was inconsistent as he alleged that Laurie Dooley had claimed spousal support in their divorce petition, but later said she had not. Despite a request to provide a copy of the divorce petition, he failed to do so.

The court determined that Mr. Dooley had not proved, on a balance of probabilities, that his separation from Laurie Dooley had affected his ability to pay spousal support to his first wife:

“because there is no evidence they were in a relationship or, if they were, the nature of their relationship when the support order was granted…I don’t know whether the children were part of his household and being support by him when the spousal support order was granted. Certainly, if they were, then the current obligation to support them (even if now formalized in adoption orders) isn’t a material change”.

Not surprisingly, the first Mrs. Dooley queried whether her ex-husband’s alleged separation from his new wife, after 19 months, was  bonafide, and I agree that her suspicions were well-founded. This sounds like a classic “sweetheart” deal and does not pass the smell test. Unfortunately, for him, his ill-conceived strategies were too far-fetched for even his QC lawyer to overcome and his application was dismissed. 

In Mr. Dooley’s current financial situation, his retirement is years away, which is in keeping with Statistics Canada’s findings that 49% of Canadians 60 years or older are working “out of necessity”.

The World’$ Riche$t Lawyers

If you think all lawyers are rich, you’d be wrong. Money Inc. reports in 2016 that the average salary for lawyers in the United States is $133,000 per year. The average for Canadian lawyers is less than that. But there are a group of lawyers worldwide who have made a fortune from practicing law, not from investments or business activities, but just advising and representing clients. The list includes a few well-known names and several who fly under the radar.

1. ALAN DERSHOWITZ $25 million
A graduate of Harvard Law School in 1962, Dershowitz became a faculty member at Harvard in 1964 and a full professor in 1967. While working as a professor he gained a stellar reputation as a criminal lawyer, representing celebrities such as heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, Queen of Mean and New York hotelier Leona Helmsley, OJ Simpson, Patty Hearst, televangelist Jim Bakker, and Claus Van Bulow, acquitted of murdering his wife. He has also written more than a dozen books.

2. MARK GERAGOS $25 million

Mark Geragos is a “celebrity” lawyer who has acted for Michael Jackson in his sexual molestation trial; Winona Ryder for shoplifting; California politician, Gary Condit, who was suspected of murdering his Washington, DC intern; Susan McDougal , partner of the Clinton’s involved in the Whitewater scandal; Scott Ferguson, convicted of murdering his wife Lacey; and Chris Brown, who pleaded guilty to the assault of his girlfriend Rhianna. Named one of the 100 Most Influential Attorneys in California, he also holds the record for one of the top ten jury verdicts in California for a 2008 award of more than $38 million against a pharmaceutical company

3. WILLIAM LERACH $900 Million

William Lerach specialized in corporate law, specifically private securities class action lawsuits, the largest being the $7.12 billion he obtained as the lead attorney in the action against Enron. Nicknamed the “King of Pain”, he was reputed to be one of the most feared lawyers in the US during his 30-year career. In 2010 Pulitzer Prize winning journalists, Patrick Dillon and Carl Cannon wrote a book about Lerach called “Circle of Greed: The Spectacular Rise and Fall of the Lawyer Who Brought Corporate America to its Knees”. He no longer practices law after pleading guilty in 2007 for obstruction of justice, related to a kickback scheme, and serving a two-year prison sentence. He was disbarred in California in 2009.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

When Will Our Judges Speak Out Forcefully Against Perjury?

Ngo v. Do, 2017 BCSC 83 (CanLII)
by Georgialee Lang BA JD FCIArb

In yet another British Columbia family law decision, the court fails to denounce, in the strongest terms, a litigant whose testimony is rife with lies. Yes, this judge addresses credibility, but in the same anemic way that permeates most family law cases, namely ” I accept the evidence of the claimant where it differs from the evidence of the respondent.”

That’s it, no rebuke, no censure, not even an award of special costs, despite the litigant’s devious conduct requiring untold extra preparation and court time to present a narrative that is flagrantly false, requiring a robust defence….yes, a rebuttal to a pack of lies.

Ngo v. Do 2017 BCSC 83 focuses on the breakdown of the marriage of a Vietnamese couple who agreed they married and immigrated to Canada in 1994. From that point on the parties’ evidence is sharply divergent.

He said their marriage ended two years later, in 1996, while she maintained they lived together as husband and wife in the family home in East Vancouver until their separation in 2012. When asked where he lived after 1996, since he alleged he did not live with his wife and children, he was unable to provide a single address, except to say that he lived in East Vancouver with a friend.

When asked to explain how it was that he and his wife added three additional children to their union after his alleged departure in 1996, he acknowledged that despite the shattering of the bonds of matrimony, they remained intimate with one another.

The date of separation was critical to a determination of the wife’s interest in two homes, a crab boat, and a license to catch crab. Ms. Ngo testified their first home was purchased in 2000 and became the family home where she and her husband raised the children, for all but one year of their marriage. She believed the home was registered in her husband’s name. Not so, said Mr. Do. He testified that the home’s owner was Mr. Den Van Ta, who he said he barely knew, although he had earlier said Den Van Ta was”like a brother” to him.

A second home in Maple Ridge was purchased in 2004, however, Mr. Do said it was purchased by his cousin, Kevin Phan. He testified that he lived with the children in the home from 2004 to 2008 rent-free and that Ms. Ngo was not permitted to live there. Ms. Ngo gave evidence that her husband told her the second home was rented out, but in 2006 he moved the family to the second home for a year, advising her that it was a more convenient location to travel to his employment in Maple Ridge.

Eventually the Maple Ridge home was registered in Mr. Do’s name. He explained that his cousin took pity on him and gifted the property to him in 2007. However, land title documents described the transaction as a cash sale for $445,000, subject to his cousin’s existing mortgage. Mr. Do sold the Maple Ridge home in 2009 netting $145,000 in profit.

Mr. Do’s lucky streak continued. He advised the court that the first home in East Vancouver was later gifted to him by Mr. Den Van Ta. The statement of adjustments described the transfer as a “gift of equity from the seller to the buyer in the amount of $269,000.” He also purchased a vessel and crab license sharing the cost equally with Mr. Den Van Ta, who, no surprise here, later gifted his one-half interest in their crab business to Mr. Do, gratis, for free.

The parties’ two eldest children corroborated Ms. Ngo’s evidence, while Mr. Den Van Ta was called to back up Mr. Do’s version of events with respect to the first home and the crab business. He was less than impressive. Mr. Phan was not called to testify leaving the court to draw an adverse inference.

The outcome? Mr. Do’s evidence was rejected and all the family property was shared equally. However, nowhere does the court suggest that Mr. Do’s perjured testimony is an abuse of process or of such a character as to bring the administration of justice into disrepute. Can anybody reason why Ms. Ngo was not awarded special costs, which is a full reimbursement of every penny she paid to her lawyer to respond to her husband’s pernicious lies? The court’s apparent trivialization of perjury by failing to award special costs to Ms. Ngo sends a strong message to litigants that perjury is acceptable.

Pulitzer prize-winning author James B. Stewart succinctly writes in “Tangled Webs: How False Statements are Undermining America”: “Our judicial system rests on an honor code: “I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.” Perjury is not acceptable behaviour.”

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

Court of Appeal Clarifies Law on Relocation in the Face of an Interim Parenting Order

With our increasingly mobile society the number of parental relocation cases continues unabated. In British Columbia the provincial legislators have done much to remove the mystery of the relevant considerations on parental and child mobility cases with the introduction of Division 2 and Division 6 of Part 4 of the Family Law Act.

In KW v LH 2018 BCCA 204 the Court of Appeal considered which sections of the legislation were applicable where there was a previous order regarding parenting. The Family Law Act states that where there is no order or agreement section 46 applies and where there is an order or agreement section 65 applies.

The issue raised by the appellant mother, whose application to relocate with her 6-year-old son from BC to Nova Scotia was dismissed, was whether section 46 applied in circumstances where there is no order, interim or otherwise at the commencement of the proceeding, but before trial such an interim order is made. This issue had not been fully resolved by previous conflicting authorities.

In the court below the judge applied the provisions of Division 6 (section 65) which the appellant argued constituted a reversible error of law.

The facts revealed that in June 2015 the children’s mother filed a Notice of Family Claim. The parties attended a JCC where a consent order was made for a section 211 report, and in November 2015 mother served written notice on her husband that she wished to relocate with the children to Nova Scotia. The husband indicated he would challenge the move and both parties delivered several other related applications, including for child support, parenting orders and other related matters.

In January 2016 an order was made for parenting for the husband and an interim order barring either party from relocating with the children was made. Months later the mother amended her Notice of Family Claim to include a relocation order. In her amended Claim she abandoned a claim for an interest in the family home and spousal support.

The trial commenced in March 2017 and ran for 14 days with 18 witnesses. The section 211 report author testified that a move to Nova Scotia was not in the children’s best interests. Written closing submissions were in excess of 300 pages.

In light of the previous interim parenting orders, the trial judge held that sections 65 and 69 of the Family Law Act applied. The trial judge also found that the mother’s wish to relocate was based on her desire to be closer to her family and farther from her husband. The judge accepted the opinion of the child custody expert and declined to grant the relocation order sought by the mother. He stated:

“In my opinion the determining date on which the court is to consider if an agreement or order exists respecting parenting arrangements is the date when the application to relocate is heard. An agreement or order respecting parenting arrangements gives guardians legitimate expectations about those arrangements which the courts will enforce in appropriate circumstances. Those legitimate expectations include the obligation found in Division 6 to persuade the court that a relocating guardian is acting in good faith.
I conclude that Division 6 of the FLA governs the [Mother’s] application to relocate.”

The appeal court considered a number of lower court decisions on the issue of whether an interim parenting order brings a relocation case into section 65 of the Family Law Act and held that it did not.

“Absent an existing agreement between the parties, when an initial application is brought for an order respecting parenting arrangements under s. 45 and a guardian indicates in his or her pleadings or by notice in writing of an intention to change the child’s residence, s. 46 applies notwithstanding that an interim order is made in the course of the proceedings. To the extent that many cases suggest otherwise, those cases were wrongly decided and should not be followed.”

The appeal court considered whether they would remit the matter back to the trial court and decided not to do so. Based on the trial judge’s finding of facts, with the exception of the finding that the mother’s move was motivated by a desire to distance herself from his child’s father, which the appeal court said was contrary to the evidence at trial, the court allowed the mother to relocate to Nova Scotia. The court urged the parties to work out a parenting schedule for the father, depending on whether he remained in BC or moved to Nova Scotia.

Lawdiva Court aka Georgialee Lang

No Litigation Funds for “Advantaged” Husband

GeorgiaLeeLang025Before March 18, 2013 there was no level playing field in British Columbia between litigating spouses. The spouse with financial resources, usually the husband, could easily “bully” his spouse, by virtue of his much deeper pockets.

All of that changed when the Family Law Act came into effect with the long-awaited provision in section 89 that if a spouse did not have the funds to hire counsel, or pay for experts, including accountants, there was now a legal avenue to obtain an advance on the family property for that purpose.

Section 89 provides:
“If satisfied that it would not be harmful to the interests of a spouse and is necessary for a purpose listed below, the Supreme Court may make an order for an interim distribution of family property that is at issue under this Part to provide money to fund

(a) family dispute resolution,

(b) all or part of a proceeding under this Act, or

(c) the obtaining of information or evidence in support of family dispute resolution or an application to a court.”

My sense is that since the inception of section 89, most applicants have been awarded funds ranging from $50,000 to $400,000 to level the playing field between spouses, with few cases being denied.

Kerby v. Kerby 2020 BCSC 1078 is a recent case where the applicant husband’s request for litigation funds in the amount of $100,000 was denied, for the following reasons:

1. The parties were married for 3 years and disagreed on how long they had cohabited pre-marriage. The husband said prior cohabitation was 2 years, while his wife said 6 years;

2. The husband was a pilot with a 2019 income of $162,000 and his wife’s income was $26,000. At the time of the application and since late 2019 the husband was receiving $104,000 per annum on “stress leave”, on account of the litigation. He produced a doctor’s note that read: “Pilot seen today. Unfit to fly”. The wife was laid off due to covid-19 and received government funds.

3. The husband deposed that he had already spent $140,000 on legal fees and could no longer afford to pay for a lawyer. He said he required between $93,000 and $188,000 to pay a lawyer to act for him and complete a 7-day trial in November 2020;

4. The sum of $416,000 was held in trust on behalf of the parties;

5. The wife argued that despite the disparity in earnings her husband had not paid spousal support and had paid no child support for their two young children for several months and never paid the required Guideline amount of support.

6. She maintained that her claim for lump sum spousal support could amount to as much as $184,000, so if her husband received the advance of funds he requested, there would be insufficient monies left to pay her share of the trust monies and lump sum support, if her claim was successful.

Relying on IF v. RJR 2015 BCSC 793 Master Muir confirmed that the purpose of section 89 was to assist economically disadvantaged spouses:

“it is meant to help level the litigation playing field that is so often skewed when one spouse controls all or the majority of the wealth and assets. Application of s. 89 calls for a purposive interpretation, where the need of the applicant spouse to receive an interim distribution and the potential entailing harm to the other spouse are evaluated contextually with an eye on the larger objectives endorsed by the FLA…

For example, would the distribution being sought in the particular case require a sale of property or of the encumbering of assets; what income tax ramifications might be triggered and what other transactional costs would arise? The concept of harm under s. 89 would also encompass economic implications such as whether the distribution would adversely impact the other spouse’s lifestyle or effectively undermine or prejudice his or her argument for reapportionment.”

The court agreed with the wife’s counsel that the husband’s request “turns the purpose of section 89 on its head”, denied his application, and awarded costs to the wife.

When are Illegal Recordings Admissible in Family Court?

BarristerWhen are surreptitious recordings of a parent and child admissible in court proceedings? That is the question that was answered by Mr. Justice Milman in the protracted proceeding of M.Y.T.C. v. L.H.N. 2019 BCSC 2454.

The claimant mother sought to introduce four cell phone audio recordings of the parties and their son, between 2011 and 2017. The respondent and the child were not aware they were being recorded. Counsel for the respondent husband challenged their admission on the grounds that their prejudicial value outweighed their probative value. Justice Milman held a voir dire on admissibility so the circumstances surrounding the recordings could be ascertained.

Relying on Finch v. Finch 2014 BCSC 653 the court recited the test for admissibility:

1. Are the recordings relevant?
2. Are the participants accurately identified?
3. Is the recording trustworthy?
4. Does the probative value outweigh any prejudice?

MYTC argued that the recordings show how LHN was encouraging their teenage son to reject a relationship with his mother and contribute to parental alienation. As well, on the tape LHN acknowledged that certain family property reflected a gift from MYTC’s mother, a fact he was presumably denying at trial.

LHN maintained that the recordings painted her client in a bad light and because LHN did not consent to the recording the administration of justice would be
brought into disrepute.

Justice Milman “reluctantly” admitted the recordings, although he was disturbed by the illegal nature of them. He pointed out that the weight they would be given would unfold as the trial progressed. He also noted that recording another party without their consent should not be encouraged by the courts. The transcripts of the recordings, prepared by MYTC, would not be admitted, however. He also remarked that the recordings were a “highly selective” snapshot based on MYTC’s decision to turn on a microphone.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

Wife Cannot Compel Husband to Sign “Non-Compete” in Sale of Family Business

In Lun v. Lun 2020 BCSC 871 the court considered whether the sale of the family insurance business, as ordered by the court, provided the court with jurisdiction to order the husband to sign a Non-Compete Agreement, as part of the sales contract, in circumstances where the husband resisted signing.

The parties owned a business that sold commercial insurance products and motor vehicle insurance. The wife brought an application to court for the sale of the business, which was contested. The court granted the order sought, with joint conduct of sale to the parties.

A condition of the sale was that Mr. Lun sign a non-competition agreement that would prevent him from being involved in the insurance industry for a period of two years. The clause read:

“… directly or indirectly, either alone or in conjunction with any individual, firm, corporation or any other entity (except for or on behalf of the Protected Entities), whether as principal, agent, employee, shareholder or in any other capacity whatsoever carry on, be engaged in, concerned with or interested in any Person carrying on any business that is competitive in whole or in part with the Business anywhere in the Territory, or advise, lend money to, or guarantee the debt or obligations of any Person that is carrying on any business anywhere in the Territory that is competitive in whole or in part with the Business.”

Mrs. Lun brought an application asking the court to order Mr. Lun to agree to the non-compete term in the contract. Mr. Lun opposed the application as he had been in the insurance industry for 20 years and wished to continue in the industry.

The court posed this question: “On what basis could the court prevent Mr. Lun from engaging in legal business activities?” and remarked that the answer would be found in the Family Law Act. However, the court determined that Part 5 of the Act did not provide jurisdiction to make the order sought

The wife then argued that Supreme Court Family Rule 15-8 (3) applied, which permitted a court to order terms of sale, including “a direction that any document necessary to complete the sale be executed on behalf of any person by a person designated by the court”. The court disagreed saying that an order allowing Mrs. Lun to sign the non-compete on behalf of her husband fell outside the purpose and intent of the rule.

Finally, Mrs. Lun argued that S. 222 (b) of the Family Law Act could be used
to make the order sought, as it authorized a court to manage behaviours that might frustrate the resolution of a family law dispute. Again, the court ruled that Mr. Lun’s refusal was a legally justifiable position and declined to accede to Mrs. Lun’s argument.

Mrs. Lun was left with renegotiating the sale to exclude a non-competition clause or entertain other offers.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

JESUS WAS A PROTESTER

To see great American cities ravaged in flames with marauding bands of black-clothed youth is startling, and so very sad…the violence and looting shocks the conscience. Yet protesting injustice is honorable and is what Jesus himself did during his time with us.

Jesus was an ardent protester. He publicly denounced the commercialization of the temple in Jerusalem, overturning tables and driving people and animals out, with whip in hand. He condemned the greed and corruption of the Jewish leaders. John 2: 13-25

We read in Luke 4 that in his hometown of Nazareth Jesus rose in the synagogue and read from Isaiah:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”[

The crowd was amazed at his youthful eloquence, but his message was so countercultural and radical that a mob chased him to the edge of town, threatening to throw him over a cliff. Jesus was not afraid to stand up for righteousness and justice.

Jesus ignored societal norms, performing miracles and healing people on the Sabbath, activities that inflamed the Jewish leaders.

16 So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. 17 In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” 18 For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.” John 5:16

Jesus did not court the famous or influential, rather he surrounded himself with sinners and even tax collectors, consider the lowest of the low in his day, men who collaborated with the Romans and became rich off the backs of Jews.

“ While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mark 2:15-17

He boldly spoke to a Samarian woman who was at the town well in Sychar drawing water.

“The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” John 4: 9-10

Jesus was a protester who broke all the rules. He called people to account and rebuked the unrighteous, especially those who saw his miracles and yet refused to repent.

“Then Jesus began to denounce the towns in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent. “Woe to you…”Matthew 11: 20

Jesus created a movement based on justice, love, and hope and his disciples became surrogate protesters. Jesus cautioned them:

“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.17 Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” Matthew 10:16-20

Because Jesus was a protester he was ridiculed, taunted, humiliated and finally murdered, taking on the sins of the world. Martin Luther called his death “the great exchange”. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

Jesus spent his life bringing awareness to gender inequality, religious hypocrisy, political corruption, racism, hatred, segregation, and social injustice. Through His power we can advocate for the poor, shelter the homeless, sustain widows and children, show hospitality to strangers, encourage the weary, and spread the love of Christ to our neighbours.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang