Sunday, September 06, 2009


Ignorance as Moral Authority

"Canada Has Religious Nutbars, Just Like America" ... or so says LiveLeak of this story from the National Post:

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 idea of teaching children about the existence and nature of other religions was enough to spark protest marches in some Quebec cities and caused about 1,700 parents to ask that their children be exempted from attending the class. Because the course was the final step in the secularization of Quebec schools that began with a 1997 constitutional amendment, all such requests were refused.

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."
That's not how Richard Décarie, spokesman for a coalition opposed to the course, saw it:

The course shouldn't be compulsory, because it changes completely how parents keep their moral authority over the education of their children. 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.
Why, yes. Religion, for good or ill, involves the essence of the culture of many people. And since the existence of other people and their cultures is a fact of the world as much as math and language, teaching children about them is fully appropriate for a secular government.

If your "moral authority" relies on keeping your children unaware of the world around them, it is short of both morality and authority.

This is, of course, the same impulse that has led to the parallel universe of home schoolers and sectarian Christian colleges in the U.S. Keep 'em ignorant of alternatives as long as possible.
I am a Canadian, now living in Kansas for the past 4 years. I was thrilled to read about this ruling. Kids need to know more, about the people and world around them, than many parents seem to let them. Ignorance and bigotry thrives in that type of environment. I see so many examples of this bigotry where I live now. Let's hope Canada can keep this narrow view of the world from infiltrating the country and the children's minds. CliK
Pastor Ray Mummert said it best:

"We've been attacked by the educated, intelligent segment of society!"
From the article:
‘…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.’

Translation: She does not want her 7-year-old to know that there are different ways of thinking about life, the universe, and everything, besides the one with which she is indoctrinating him. It always amazes me to see that the Almighty God and his Holy Church are so delicate and sensitive as to need this kind of protection.
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