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Students must learn about other religions


 

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

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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
Replies (41-46):
Thomigirl
by Gold Member on Sep. 5, 2009 at 5:40 PM

OK..WHAT?  Since when can't kids say the pledge of allegiance because it has the word God it it?

Quoting MegaMamaTX:

So, kids cant say the pledge of allegiance because it has the word 'God' in it. 


KairisMama
by Bronze Member on Sep. 5, 2009 at 5:43 PM

I can agree. I am not religious, and honestly don't care about religion enough to learn about the specifics of certain kinds. Not to mention there are way too many, and NO ONE teacher would be qualified enough to teach them ALL. I DO respect that people have their own beliefs, and have a right to practice religion as they see fit.

I would not want my DD being FORCED to learn about a variety of religions in a public school. If she CHOOSES to do that one her own when in HS or college, via an ELECTIVE, I am all for it. Don't FORCE it.

Quoting marissaj125:

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


grammie6
by Bronze Member on Sep. 5, 2009 at 7:21 PM

the only way  I would want a class about any or all religions taught in school would be as an ELECTIVE...no religious curriculum should be mandatory in public schools...

coast guardGrammie6

AMom29
by Gold Member on Sep. 5, 2009 at 7:22 PM


Quote:

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.
Absolutely.


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angelachristine
by Bronze Member on Sep. 6, 2009 at 10:32 AM

Yeah that's pretty much what I thought too. I think in jr high or high school it could be an elective but I don't want it in grade school and kids should be able to opt out.

Quoting AMom29:


Quote:

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.
Absolutely.


Des10ed2b
by Bronze Member on Sep. 6, 2009 at 10:49 AM

i totally agree with this! i totally think that everyone should know and respect others beliefs, i also think it should be looked at historically, when the religions came about and why. it sounds like a class i would love to attend. i know that it makes others feel like its threatening to their faith, but really i would think it would strengthen it to have it heard and taught. a lot of people considered themselves to be a certain religion without really knowing what it is just because thats what their parents were. i dont know how i feel about it having to be mandatory, but i think it would be a great subject to have offered.

LeAnne C.  

Proud SAHM/WAHM of 1 beautiful little girl, 1 ornery baby boy and happily married! i love my life as a mommy and wife!

http://www.PerfectWorkForMoms.com

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