Patrick Craine

, ,

Alberta backtracks: Parents can teach beliefs on homosexuality, but homeschoolers still concerned

Patrick Craine
Patrick Craine

EDMONTON, Alberta, March 5, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Homeschoolers say they remain gravely concerned over the Alberta government’s new Education Act, even after Education Minister Thomas Lukaszuk has distanced himself from his spokeswoman’s statements that homeschoolers would be forbidden to teach controversial aspects of their religious beliefs as part of their curriculum.

After learning that the province’s new Education Act may be opening the door to “diversity” education, and that it includes homeschools under the list of schools, LifeSiteNews had asked Donna McColl, Lukaszuk’s assistant director of communications, about the controversial issue of homosexuality as a test case. In response LSN was told that faith-based schools and homeschooling families would not be able to teach that homosexual behavior is a sin in their programs. But after getting flooded with complaints over the remarks, the government is now hastening to assure parents that they can indeed teach their beliefs.

“At the end of the day, parents have the right to determine the curriculum. And yes, they can still teach whatever their beliefs are about homosexuality, one way or the other,” Janice Schroeder, Lukaszuk’s director of communications, told LifeSiteNews Thursday.

But Paul Faris, president of the Home School Legal Defense Association, says the flap highlights the fact that the law needs to be amended to avoid interpretations like McColl’s by other government officials or future governments.

“While we applaud the government for repudiating the earlier remarks, we would prefer that they simply change Bill 2 to clearly steer well clear of interfering in homeschoolers’ private lives,” he said.

“From my perspective, the fact that they’ve repudiated the previous remarks is somewhat cold comfort because the government clearly doesn’t even know what their own position is on this,” he added.

Homeschoolers, including HSLDA and the Alberta Home Education Association (AHEA), are alarmed over section 16 of the bill, which requires schools, including homeschoolers, to “honour and respect” the controversial Alberta Human Rights Act that has been used to target Christians and conservatives.

Though the government is insisting the bill will change nothing for homeschooling in the province, the groups are warning that it could be used to mandate politically-correct “diversity” education in the home.

Tabled by Alison Redford’s Progressive Conservative government on Feb. 14th, the bill would replace the existing School Act. It is scheduled for second reading this week, possibly as early as Monday.

AHEA organized a peaceful rally at the legislature Monday to call on the government to amend the bill. They say Premier Redford is tracking how many people contact her or Minister Lukaszuk regarding the bill to gauge interest in changing the language.

At the same time, AHEA and HSLDA are backing a proposed amendment by the right-wing Wildrose Party to remove reference to the Alberta Human Rights Act in section 16. Another amendment they support would change the bill’s preamble to state that “parents have the paramount right and responsibility to make decisions respecting the education of their children.”

The groups are calling on Alberta citizens to keep the pressure on the government, which holds 67 of the 83 seats in the legislature, and urge them to pass the amendments.

Many were shocked last Thursday when McColl told LifeSiteNews that under the new Act, “You can affirm the family’s ideology in your family life, you just can’t do it as part of your educational study and instruction.”

At the time, Faris said the comments signaled that the government was “in fact planning to violate the private conversations families have in their own homes.”

Under fire, Minister Lukaszuk sent a letter Feb. 24th to LifeSiteNews alleging the piece was “alarmist” and based on “unfounded” interpretations of the proposed Education Act.

“Home schooling families in Alberta need not be concerned that the provincial government intends to compromise their religious freedoms, intervene in their parenting styles or private conversations, or undertake any of the nefarious activities you suggest,” the Minister wrote. “The Government of Alberta fully respects religious freedoms – all religious freedoms – and has a number of protections in place.”

When LifeSiteNews spoke to Schroeder – McColl’s boss – on Thursday, March 1st, she was clearly shocked at McColl’s comments when LifeSiteNews explained that they were made in response to repeated questions, raised as a test case, as to whether homeschoolers of traditional values could teach that homosexuality is a sin.

“Wow. Well, that’s unfortunate,” Schroeder said. Asked if she wanted a transcript, Schroeder said she would take LifeSiteNews at our word.

She called McColl’s statements an “unfortunate miscommunication” and insisted the government would be “abundantly clear” when explaining the Act in the future.

“The general intent of the legislation was we believe the home education system is working well as it is,” she said. “We do not see anything in the Education Act that changes things for homeschooling parents.”

After LifeSiteNews asked Schroeder for a correction of Lukaszuk’s criticisms of our reporting, Schroeder asked LifeSiteNews late Friday afternoon to hold our story as she awaited approval of the new version. She confirmed Monday that they would release an updated letter, but could not confirm it would be by the end of the day.

Both Lukaszuk and Schroeder pointed out that the Alberta Human Rights Act, in section 11.1, gives parents the option of removing children from classes dealing with religion, sexuality, or sexual orientation without academic penalty. Lukaszuk wrote that for homeschoolers that section confirms that parents choose how these matters are taught.

And Schroeder emphasized that the Alberta Human Rights Act also protects the family’s religious freedom, in addition to protecting from discrimination based on “sexual orientation.”

But in the past Christians, such as Bishop Fred Henry of Calgary and Red Deer pastor Stephen Boissoin, have been targeted under the Act for espousing Christian teaching on homosexuality. In the case of Boissoin he was found guilty by a human rights tribunal after a local newspaper printed a letter to the editor in which he expressed concerns with the homosexual agenda being taught in schools.

Asked whether parents would be permitted to teach something deemed to violate the Alberta Human Rights Act, Schroeder said she would not “speculate.”

“You’d have to ask the human rights tribunal on how they would rule on something like that,” she said. “Our sense of it would be – well I’m not going to speculate on what our sense of that would be. Right now parents determine religious teachings for their children.”

In a letter responding to Lukaszuk’s letter to LifeSiteNews, Patty Marler, AHEA’s government liaison, took issue with the notion that the Alberta Human Rights Act would protect their religious beliefs.

“The Human Rights Tribunals have used the Alberta Human Rights Act to restrict and diminish religious beliefs and expressions, so how would those with deeply held religious convictions be ‘protected’ in any way?” she asked.

Commenting on McColl’s statements, she wrote, ”If this is the understanding of the spokesperson for the Department of Education, it is likely that this could be the interpretation taken in a court of law.”

“Quite frankly, I don’t care what the government’s intentions are,” said Faris. “I want to know what the law says. Because ultimately it’s what’s written in the law that’s going to matter.”

“Even if this government does have good intentions, if a different government gets in with nefarious intentions, they’ve got that law sitting there waiting for them to use,” he added.


Contact Information:

Hon. Thomas Lukaszuk, Education Minister
423 Legislature Building
10800 - 97 Avenue NW
Edmonton, AB
Canada T5K 2B6
Phone: (780) 427-5010
Fax: (780) 427-5018
edmonton.castledowns@assembly.ab.ca

Premier Alison Redford
Office of the Premier
Room 307, Legislature Building
10800-97 Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta T5K 2B7
Phone: 780-427-2251
E-mail: Use this form.

Contact info for Alberta MLAs.

Truth. Delivered daily.

Get FREE pro-life, pro-family news delivered straight to your inbox. 

Select Your Edition:


Advertisement
Featured Image
Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin

PBS defends decision to air pro-abortion documentary ‘After Tiller’

Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin
By Dustin Siggins

Under pressure for showing the pro-abortion documentary "After Tiller" on Labor Day, PBS' "POV" affiliate has defended the decision in response to an inquiry from LifeSiteNews.

The producers of the film say their goal with the documentary, which tells the stories of four late-term abortion doctors after the killing of infamous late-term abortionist George Tiller, is to "change public perception of third-trimester abortion providers by building a movement dedicated to supporting their right to work with a special focus on maintaining their safety.” 

POV told LifeSiteNews, "We do believe that 'After Tiller' adds another dimension to an issue that is being debated widely." Asked if POV will show a pro-life documentary, the organization said that it "does not have any other films currently scheduled on this issue. POV received almost 1000 film submissions each year through our annual call for entries and we welcome the opportunity to consider films with a range of points of view."

When asked whether POV was concerned about alienating its viewership -- since PBS received more than $400 million in federal tax dollars in 2012 and half of Americans identify as pro-life -- POV said, "The filmmakers would like the film to add to the discussion around these issues. Abortion is already a legal procedure."

Click "like" if you are PRO-LIFE!

"This is an issue that people feel passionately about and will have a passionate response to. We are hopeful that the majority of people can see it for what it is, another lens on a very difficult issue." 

In addition to the documentary, POV has written materials for community leaders and teachers to share. A cursory examination of the 29-page document, which is available publicly, appears to include links to outside sources that defend Roe v. Wade, an examination of the constitutional right to privacy, and "a good explanation of the link between abortion law and the right to privacy," among other information.

Likewise, seven clips recommended for student viewing -- grades 11 and beyond -- include scenes where couples choose abortion because the children are disabled. Another shows pro-life advocates outside a doctor's child's school, and a third is described as showing "why [one of the film's doctors] chose to offer abortion services and includes descriptions of what can happen when abortion is illegal or unavailable, including stories of women who injured themselves when they tried to terminate their own pregnancies and children who were abused because they were unwanted."

Another clip "includes footage of protesters, as well as news coverage of a hearing in the Nebraska State Legislature in which abortion opponents make reference to the idea that a fetus feels pain." The clip's description fails to note that it is a scientifically proven fact that unborn children can feel pain.

The documentary is set to air on PBS at 10 p.m. Eastern on Labor Day.

Kirsten Andersen contributed to this article.

Advertisement
Featured Image
Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete

,

He defended ‘real’ marriage, and then was beheaded for it

Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete
By Pete Baklinski

A Christian man was executed during the night by a high-profile ruler after making an uncompromising defense of real marriage.

The Christian, who was renowned for his holiness, had told the ruler in public that his relationship with his partner was “against the law” of God. The Christian’s words enraged the ruler’s partner who successfully plotted to have him permanently silenced.

John the Baptist was first imprisoned before he was beheaded. The Catholic Church honors him today, August 29, as a martyr and saint.

While John’s death happened a little less than 2,000 years ago, his heroic stance for real marriage is more pertinent today than ever before.

According to the Gospel of Mark, the ruler Herod had ‘married’ his brother’s wife Herodias. When John told Herod with complete frankness, “It is against the law for you to have your brother’s wife,” Herodias became “furious” with him to the point of wanting him killed for his intolerance, bullying, and hate-speech.

Herodias found her opportunity to silence John by having her daughter please Herod during a dance at a party. Herod offered the girl anything she wanted. The daughter turned to her mother for advice, and Herodias said to ask for John’s head on a platter.

Those who fight for real marriage today can learn three important lessons from John’s example.

  1. Those proudly living in ungodly and unnatural relationships — often referred to in today’s sociopolitical sphere as ‘marriage’ — will despise those who tell them what they are doing is wrong. Real marriage defenders must expect opposition to their message from the highest levels.
  2. Despite facing opposition, John was not afraid to defend God’s plan for marriage in the public square, even holding a secular ruler accountable to this plan. John, following the third book of the Hebrew Bible (Leviticus 20:21), held that a man marrying the wife of his brother was an act of “impurity” and therefore abhorrent to God. Real marriage defenders must boldly proclaim today that God is the author of marriage, an institution he created to be a life-long union between one man and one woman from which children arise and in which they are best nurtured. Marriage can be nothing more, nothing less.
  3. John did not compromise on the truth of marriage as revealed by God, even to the point of suffering imprisonment and death for his unpopular position. Real marriage defenders must never compromise on the truth of marriage, even if the government, corporate North America, and the entire secular education system says otherwise. They must learn to recognize the new “Herodias” of today who despises those raising a voice against her lifestyle. They must stand their ground no matter what may come, no matter what the cost.

John the Baptist was not intolerant or a bigot, he simply lived the word of God without compromise, speaking the word of truth when it was needed, knowing that God’s way is always the best way. Were John alive today, he would be at the forefront of the grassroots movement opposing the social and political agenda to remake marriage in the image of man.

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

If he were alive today he might speak simple but eloquent words such as, “It is against God’s law for two men or two women to be together as a husband and wife in marriage. Marriage can only be between a man and a woman.” 

He would most likely be hated. He would be ridiculed. He would surely have the human rights tribunals throwing the book at him. But he would be speaking the truth and have God as his ally. 

The time may not be far off when those who defend real marriage, like John, will be presented with the choice of following Caesar or making the ultimate sacrifice. May God grant his faithful the grace to persevere in whatever might come. St. John the Baptist, pray for us!

Share this article

Advertisement
Featured Image
The Wunderlich family Mike Donnelly / Home School Legal Defence Association
Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus

,

German homeschoolers regain custody of children, vow to stay and fight for freedom

Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus
By Thaddeus Baklinski

One year to the day since a team of 20 social workers, police officers, and special agents stormed a homeschooling family’s residence near Darmstadt, Germany, and forcibly removed all four of the family’s children, aged 7 to 14, a state appeals court has returned custody of the children to their parents.

The reason given for the removal was that parents Dirk and Petra Wunderlich continued to homeschool their children in defiance of a German ban on home education.

The children were returned three weeks after being taken, following an international outcry spearheaded by the Home School Legal Defense Association.

However, a lower court imposed the condition on the parents that their children were required to attend state schools in order for them to be released, and took legal custody of the children in order to prevent the family from leaving the country.

In a decision that was still highly critical of the parents and of homeschooling, the appeals court decided that the action of the lower court in putting the children in the custody of the state was “disproportional” and ordered complete custody returned to the parents, according to a statement by the HSLDA.

The Wunderlichs, who began homeschooling again when the court signaled it would rule this way, said they were very pleased with the result, but noted that the court’s harsh words about homeschooling indicated that their battle was far from over.

“We have won custody and we are glad about that,” Dirk said.

“The court said that taking our children away was not proportionate—only because the authorities should apply very high fines and criminal prosecution instead. But this decision upholds the absurd idea that homeschooling is child endangerment and an abuse of parental authority.”

The Wunderlichs are now free to emigrate to another country where homeschooling is legal, if they choose, but they said they intend to remain in Germany and work for educational freedom.

“While we no longer fear that our children will be taken away as long as we are living in Hessen, it can still happen to other people in Germany,” Dirk said. “Now we fear crushing fines up to $75,000 and jail. This should not be tolerated in a civilized country.”

Petra Wunderlich said, "We could not do this without the help of HSLDA,” but cautioned that, “No family can fight the powerful German state—it is too much, too expensive."

"If it were not for HSLDA and their support, I am afraid our children would still be in state custody. We are so grateful and thank all homeschoolers who have helped us by helping HSLDA.”

HSLDA’s Director for Global Outreach, Michael Donnelly, said he welcomed the ruling but was concerned about the court’s troubling language.

“We welcome this ruling that overturns what was an outrageous abuse of judicial power,” he said.

“The lower court decision to take away legal custody of the children essentially imprisoned the Wunderlich family in Germany. But this decision does not go far enough. The court has only grudgingly given back custody and has further signaled to local authorities that they should still go after the Wunderlichs with criminal charges or fines.”

Donnelly pointed out that such behavior in a democratic country is problematic.

“Imprisonment and fines for homeschooling are outside the bounds of what free societies that respect fundamental human rights should tolerate,” he explained.

“Freedom and fundamental human rights norms demand respect for parental decision making in education. Germany’s state and national policies that permit banning home education must be changed.

"Such policies from a leading European democracy not only threaten the rights of tens of thousands of German families but establish a dangerous example that other countries may be tempted to follow,” Donnelly warned.

HSLDA Chairman Michael Farris said that acting on behalf of the Wunderlichs was an important stand for freedom.

“The Wunderlichs are a good and decent family whose basic human rights were violated and are still threatened,” Farris said.

“Their fight is our fight," Farris stressed, "and we will continue to support those who stand against German policy banning homeschooling that violates international legal norms. Free people cannot tolerate such oppression and we will do whatever we can to fight for families like the Wunderlichs both here in the United States and abroad. We must stand up to this kind of persecution where it occurs or we risk seeing own freedom weakened.”

Visit the HSLDA website dedicated to helping the Wunderlich family and other German homeschoolers here.

Contact the German embassy in the U.S. here.

Contact the German embassy in Canada here.

Advertisement

Customize your experience.

Login with Facebook