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Students must learn about other religions

Posted by on Sep. 4, 2009 at 10:51 AM
  • 46 Replies

 

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Question: Do you think a class like this should be mandatory?

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yes

no

maybe


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Total Votes: 67

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Students must learn about other religions: judge

Parents say new course threatens Christian faith

Graeme Hamilton, National Post  Published: Wednesday, September 02, 2009

MONTREAL -- Christian parents who objected to their children being taught about other religions in a mandatory new Quebec school course have suffered a serious setback with a ruling this week that the teachings do not infringe their religious freedoms.

Quebec Superior Court Justice Jean-Guy Dubois dismissed a bid by parents in Drummondville, Que., who said the course on ethics and religious culture introduced across the province last year was undermining their efforts to instill Christian faith in their children.

"In light of all the evidence presented, the court does not see how the ... course limits the plaintiff's freedom of conscience and of religion for the children when it provides an overall presentation of various religions without obliging the children to adhere to them," Judge Dubois wrote.

The course was controversial even before instruction began last September. During the year there were protest marches in some cities, and about 1,700 parents asked that their children be exempted from attending the class. All such requests were refused.

The course's introduction was the final step in the secularization of Quebec schooling that began with a 1997 constitutional amendment replacing denominational school boards with linguistic ones.

As of last year, parents no longer had the right to choose between courses in Catholic, Protestant or moral instruction. The new curriculum covers a broad range of world religions, with particular emphasis on Quebec's religious heritage -- Catholicism, Protestantism, Judaism and aboriginal spirituality. It is taught from Grade 1 through Grade 11.

The course's scope was too broad for the parents in the Drummondville case, who cannot be named because their two minor children are involved. During the trial, the children's mother testified that she did not see why her 7-year-old son needs to learn about Islam when he is still forming his own Catholic spirituality. "It's very confusing," she said.

In his ruling, Judge Dubois cited a Catholic theologian who testified that religious instruction is primarily the responsibility of parents, not schools. He added that there is a commitment on the part of the Catholic church to understand other religions.

The Quebec government, which intervened in the case in support of the Des Chênes school board, argued that the course was objective and in no way limited parents' ability to pass their religious beliefs on to their children. Teaching children about other religions is a way to promote "equality, respect and tolerance in the Quebec school system," it said.

Sébastien Lebel-Grenier, a law professor at Université de Sherbrooke, said he is not surprised that the new course survived a challenge under the Charter of Rights.

"What parents were demanding was the right to ignorance, the right to protect their children from being exposed to the existence of other religions," he said. "This right to ignorance is certainly not protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Freedom of religion does not protect the right not to know what is going on in our universe."

He said the course is aimed not at instilling religious values but at trying "to explain to these children the diversity in which we now live in Quebec."

Richard Décarie, spokesman for a coalition opposed to the course, said the decision is a major disappointment. He believes there are grounds for an appeal, but he is not sure the parents involved can afford additional legal expenses. He said they have already spent close to $100,000 fighting the case.

"The course shouldn't be compulsory, because it changes completely how parents keep their moral authority over the education of their children," said Mr. Décarie, of the Coalition for Freedom in Education. "We're not talking about mathematics or French or English here. We're talking about something that involves the essence of the culture of people."

Two other challenges of the course are before the courts, with decisions expected this fall. Parents in Granby went to court after their children were suspended from school for failing to attend ethics and religious culture class. Montreal's Loyola High School, a private Jesuit school, has challenged the course, arguing that it obliges the school to put all religions on equal footing. The school says it already teaches world religions to its students.



Ok here's my thought on this. It's fine to offer a class like this but I don't think it should be mandatory. The kids should be able to opt out. It's not the school's business to teach my child about religion that's the parent's job.

by on Sep. 4, 2009 at 10:51 AM
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Replies (1-10):
marissaj125
by Member on Sep. 4, 2009 at 10:53 AM

no cuz there are too many religions anyways and who cares?

Im a Dreamer, Mother to one little girl born 7~12~09, NON vax, breastfeeding, teen mom age 16, going to nursing school this coming year, pro~choice, peacefull, Loving, deep thinker, open minded, very out going, lovs to draw and write, down to earth, awsome boyfriend. OverAll~Im~a~Sweet~Artistic~Rocking~Mommy!

Mama2JoshKatie
by Bronze Member on Sep. 4, 2009 at 11:00 AM

No I don't think there should be a class like this at all, much less a mandatory one. My children will learn about other religions but they will learn from me and my husband. That is our job not the schools. I just really think that is something that should be handled at home not at school.

Cynthje
by on Sep. 4, 2009 at 11:04 AM

I voted yes, i went to a public school in the Netherlands and we had a class like that. I loved it and i learned a lot from it. To me its just as important as a history class.

I'm assuming that the schools described in the article are public schools and if parents really have such a problem with it why not send their kids to a religious (not public school)?

MontclairMama
by on Sep. 4, 2009 at 11:05 AM

There shouldn't be any religious instruction at all, period. We are trying to get our kids to learn FACT, right???

marissaj125
by Member on Sep. 4, 2009 at 11:07 AM

right =]

Quoting MontclairMama:

There shouldn't be any religious instruction at all, period. We are trying to get our kids to learn FACT, right???


Im a Dreamer, Mother to one little girl born 7~12~09, NON vax, breastfeeding, teen mom age 16, going to nursing school this coming year, pro~choice, peacefull, Loving, deep thinker, open minded, very out going, lovs to draw and write, down to earth, awsome boyfriend. OverAll~Im~a~Sweet~Artistic~Rocking~Mommy!

mammapickle
by Member on Sep. 4, 2009 at 11:13 AM

Kid's take mandatory History class....... and not just of they're own county. Religion, and religious prosecution is very intertwined throughout history. If taught from an unbiased and historical standpoint, where every documented faith is covered, I would not have a problem with these classes. I'd really quiz my kid to make sure it's going like that tho.

mammapickle
by Member on Sep. 4, 2009 at 11:23 AM


Quoting marissaj125:

right =]

Quoting MontclairMama:

There shouldn't be any religious instruction at all, period. We are trying to get our kids to learn FACT, right???



Are we going to take exacto knives to history books then? If  faith practiced in the home is strong enough, why is a knowledge based program so awful? Again, i'm basing my opinion on a equal and unbiased approach.

Stefanie1085
by Silver Member on Sep. 4, 2009 at 11:25 AM


Quoting mammapickle:

Kid's take mandatory History class....... and not just of they're own county. Religion, and religious prosecution is very intertwined throughout history. If taught from an unbiased and historical standpoint, where every documented faith is covered, I would not have a problem with these classes. I'd really quiz my kid to make sure it's going like that tho.


See that is me. But I don't think an entire course is necessary. It should be covered briefly in world history classes, and an optional religions class in high school that goes deeper in depth.

humanjunglegym
by on Sep. 4, 2009 at 11:28 AM

Idk...  I think it's good to learn about other religions, just like you learn about other cultures.  However, I don't think you can do justice to explaining a religion you don't believe but neither do I want someone (without my knowledge or being there) forcing my child to listen to beliefs that I disagree with.

Stefanie1085
by Silver Member on Sep. 4, 2009 at 11:32 AM

Apparently there are ways of teaching about religion in history; they even have a website:

http://www.teachingaboutreligion.org/ 

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