Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
May 25, 2009
Parents are standing up to protect their rightsHeadline
Quebec gov't eager to impose relativistic 'religious culture' course
A Shepherd Speaks
By BISHOP FRED HENRY
Labelling parents “right wing” or “left wing” is misguided and irrelevant. So too is much of the discussion about “opting out” or hauling teachers before human rights tribunals.
Parents are the primary educators of their children. In many Canadian jurisdictions there have been challenges to parental rights and considerable fear mongering about the consequences of acknowledging parental rights. Parents are starting to push back.
Parents who object to the Quebec government’s relativistic Ethics and Religious Culture school religion program are currently in Quebec Superior Court, where they are arguing that the compulsory school course is unconstitutional and violates their freedom to educate their children according to their religious convictions.
According to a prepared statement, the parents “believe sincerely that the obligatory character of the course breaches their freedom of conscience and their faith, in that the course imposes on the student a polytheistic vision of the religious phenomenon, is relativist, separates ethics from morality, and claims to maintain a neutrality in dealing with ethical questions, and interferes with the ability of parents to transmit their faith to their child.”
The new compulsory religion course replaces three options that had been available to Quebec students — a generic course in moral education, or two other courses that were either Catholic or Protestant in nature — with a relativistic program that includes a positive presentation of homosexual families and requires children to question their own religious upbringing.
The new course was developed and made compulsory by Quebec’s Education Ministry after the clause in the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms that guaranteed freedom of religious instruction and parental rights was changed without any public consultation.
Under the Quebec charter, parents have “the right to require that, in the public educational establishments, their children receive a religious or moral instruction in conformity with their convictions.”
The amended clause removes the phrase “in the public educational establishments” and hence has been interpreted as meaning that parents no longer have any say in what type of religious instruction is given in the schools. Now that is truly frightening.
Alberta’s Bill 44 would be strengthened, however, if the government were to follow the lead of President Barack Obama, who in his commencement address at the University of Notre Dame, called for conscience protection for pro-life health-care providers.
“Let’s honour the conscience of those who disagree with abortion, and draft a sensible conscience clause, and make sure that all of our health care policies are grounded not only in sound science, but also in clear ethics, as well as respect for the equality of women.”