Patrick Craine

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Court ruling wrests education authority from parents, hands to state: lawyer in case

Patrick Craine
Patrick Craine

OTTAWA, Ontario, February 17, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - After Friday morning’s unanimous Supreme Court ruling denying a Quebec family’s request to exempt their child from the province’s controversial ethics and religious culture program, the mother says she feels that her parental rights have been thwarted.

“As a parent, I feel like I have a right to a say in the education of my children,” said the mother, who can only be identified as S.L. “I feel it was very serious and it has serious outcomes.”

Lawyers and commentators involved in the case are calling the ruling a devastating blow for parental rights and an unprecedented victory for the state’s authority over the education of children; however, they also emphasize that the court has not declared the ethics and religious culture program to be constitutional, and has left the door open to another court challenge.

Jean-Yves Côté, the family’s lawyer at the trial, said that with today’s ruling “the state is now in a position to impose in the public schools an ideology that doesn’t correspond to the parent’s faith.”

“According to the civil code, the parent delegates his authority to the teacher,” he explained. “Now there is a shift. The authority of the teacher comes not from the parents but from the state.”

The ERC course, which has been mandated for all students from grades 1 to 11 including homeschoolers, was introduced in 2008 with the aim of presenting the spectrum of world religions and lifestyle choices from a “neutral” stance.

The parents, along with moral conservatives and people of faith across the country, charged that it promotes relativism and its mandatory nature violated the parental right to direct the education of their children.

But the Supreme Court’s majority decision, written by Justice Deschamps on behalf of herself and six other justices, argued that the course does not infringe on a particular set of religious beliefs because it remains neutral to religion.

“State neutrality is assured when the state neither favours nor hinders any particular religious belief, that is, when it shows respect for all postures towards religion, including that of having no religious beliefs whatsoever,” wrote Deschamps.

But Patrick Andries of the Coalition pour la Liberté en Éducation, which supported the family throughout the case, says the course is not as neutral as the court supposes.  “It has inherently in it a relativist approach,” he said, adding that the presentation of the different faiths “tends to confuse the children.”

The crux of the court’s argument was that the parents failed to meet the burden of proof necessary to show that their child’s participation in the course would impede their ability to raise him in their Catholic faith.

Côté explained that the court has thus raised the bar for parents who object to school curriculum: while previously it was sufficient to show that a program went against the parents’ sincerely-held faith, now they must provide evidence that it has “interfered with their ability to pass their faith on to their children,” in the court’s words.

With this ruling, he said, “we need an objective criteria, or proof, or evidence that the freedom of religion of the plaintiff is infringed. That is totally new.”

The mother says the heightened criterion is too high a burden. “Who can weigh prejudice toward a child when it comes to faith? How can we provide objective proof and who can dismiss a parent’s voice as an expert?” she asked.

Justice LeBel, in his minority decision, said the court was not able to judge the program itself and how it would be implemented in the classroom because there was insufficient evidence of its content presented at the trial.

Côté noted that the case was difficult because they brought it forward before the course had even been implemented, and the trial judge, Judge Dubois, had only allowed them to present the one book used by the family’s six-year-old, prohibiting them from presenting the rest of the curriculum.

Don Hutchinson, vice president and general legal counsel for the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, which intervened in the case, emphasized that the court based its decision on a lack of evidence that the child had actually suffered harm from the course – a requirement for the exemption – owing to the fact that they went to court before the child entered the course.

As a result, he called it a “non-decision on parental rights and religious freedom” in which the court “hung their legal hat on a technicality.”

At the same time, he criticized the ruling, saying that parents have always had the right to make decisions about their child’s religious and moral instruction “without government interference.”

Faye Sonier, legal counsel for the EFC, said, “the Court has left the door open to a similar case returning to the court if an objective infringement of rights can be demonstrated, rather than a parental concern about infringement.”

But Andries pointed out that the Quebec law allowing exemptions says they can be used to “prevent” harm, meaning, he says, that one should not “have to go through the problem before asking for exemptions.”

Jean-Morse Chevrier, president of the Catholic Parents Association of Quebec and a director with the Catholic Civil Rights League, said the need to prove harm means that “parents would have to document the situation,” so it would be “extremely difficult.”

“It’s as though you really have to prove it, and it’s not easy to do on the psychological level and the spiritual level, the damage that’s being done,” she said. “And once the damage is done it’s not that easy to undo.”

She said the court has left parents who object to the course with no options because it is being imposed on the private schools and even officially on homeschoolers. “It’s a blow. It becomes a civil rights issue,” she said.

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A protester at New York's Foley Square on Feb. 26, 2011 opposes funding cuts to Planned Parenthood in the GOP's budget. Dave Bledsoe / Flickr
Kirsten Andersen Kirsten Andersen Follow Kirsten

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Teacher fired for protesting Planned Parenthood files $390K lawsuit

Kirsten Andersen Kirsten Andersen Follow Kirsten
By Kirsten Anderson

A pro-life teacher who was fired from his job at a Portland high school after protesting Planned Parenthood is now suing the school district for wrongful termination.

Bill Diss, who worked for eleven years as a math teacher at Benson High School, was escorted off campus in 2013 by a police officer and told not to return.  The school board later voted to fire him.  Diss alleges he was targeted by pro-abortion administrators for his pro-life views, and that his firing was the culmination of six years of progressively increasing tension over the matter.

After five years of positive reviews by administrators, Diss’ relationship with school officials began to deteriorate in 2007, when he protested the proposed opening of a Planned Parenthood headquarters in Portland.  Although the protests happened on his own time, away from school grounds, administrators confronted him after seeing him on television speaking out against the pro-abortion group.

“As the attention mounted, [Diss] was summoned for questioning by Benson High School administrators,” the lawsuit reads. “He was interrogated about his activities by the principal and by an attorney for the District. The activities in question occurred on his own time, not at school, nonetheless he was specifically instructed not to mention the fact that he was a teacher or where he worked when making public statements.”

Five years later, things took a turn for the worse when school officials tried to force Diss to allow Planned Parenthood to make a presentation to his class.  In late 2012, presenters with the Teen Outreach Program (TOP) – a teen pregnancy prevention program run by Planned Parenthood and funded by a federal government grant – showed up at Diss’ classroom unannounced to give a recruitment pitch to students.  No one had told Diss they were coming, so he followed district policy and requested identification.

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When the presenters identified themselves as employees of Planned Parenthood, Diss was surprised and upset. At first, he refused them access, but Principal Carol Campbell demanded they be let in, and told him that the organization would be visiting his classroom throughout the year. Diss, a Roman Catholic, felt that he could not in good conscience participate in these presentations, during which students would discuss their sexual activities and methods of contraception.  He asked to be excused, but Campbell denied his request and told him he had to stay and “facilitate [Planned Parenthood’s] interactions with students,” according to the suit.

“Because (Diss) expressed his opposition to the activities of Planned Parenthood at Benson High School, he became a target of” the administration, the suit reads. “They launched a full-scale assault on the plaintiff as a teacher. He was observed and evaluated on the most minute aspects of his teaching.”  He was ordered to stop drilling deficient students on their multiplication tables and factors, calling it “repetitive,” and one administrator demanded he stop using the words “God Bless” in all of his communications with staff, students and parents.

He was later accused of “unprofessional, intimidating and/or harassing behavior” by school officials over comments students said he made in opposition to Planned Parenthood, including his assertion that “they kill over a million babies every three years.” It was this allegation that district officials would ultimately use to justify his firing.

Diss is seeking $90,000 in backpay and benefits, and an additional $300,000 for emotional distress.  He is being represented by attorney Rebekah Millard of the Life Legal Defense Foundation.

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Gabriele Kuby

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Genderism – a new ideology destroying the family

Gabriele Kuby
By Gabriele Kuby

Editor’s Note: The following address by German author and social commentator Gabriele Kuby was delivered earlier this month in Moscow at the International Forum on Large Families and the Future of Humanity.

We are witnessing an astonishing historical shift.

More than a hundred years ago, Marxism declared the relationship of man and woman in monogamous marriage as “the first class antagonism” in history. This “class-conflict” had to be overcome by destroying marriage and the family. So in 1917, Alexandra Kollontai, the first woman commissar of the Bolshevik Central Committee, set out to put this into practise through the exercise of revolutionary power:

  1. A law for the dissolution of marriage
  2. Legalization of abortion
  3. Sexual freedom for youth
  4. Legalization of homosexuality
  5. Integration of women into the production process, and
  6. Bringing up children in collective state institutions.

But even Lenin soon realized that this was creating social chaos. And he repealed some of these revolutionary measures.

Yet the same agenda eventually migrated to the West. It had its breakthrough with the student rebellion of the 1960s, which swept through European countries with slogans like these:

Battle the bourgeois nuclear family!

If you sleep with the same one twice, you’re a slave of bourgeois vice!

Make love not war!

This movement was fuelled by Marxist philosophers, particularly of the Frankfurt School in Germany. In their view, sexuality was to be liberated from restrictive morality – even from the taboo of incest. Sex between children, as well as sex with children, was to be allowed in order to create a “society without oppression”.

During the 1970s, marriage laws and sexual criminal laws were revised in Western countries. Pornography, abortion, and homosexuality – in this sequence – were legalized, and obligatory sexual education was introduced in schools. And during the last decade, the collectivization of bringing up small children – formerly seen as a communist aberration – has been imposed on families by EU measures. This destroys the very source of human love, which is the relationship between mother and child.

Ironically, the Soviet Union and Eastern European countries were, so to speak, “protected” by communist dictatorship from the implementation of these ideas, which had originated in Marxist ideology.

Today things have shifted even further: The radical feminist movement and the homosexual movement merged and gave birth to the gender ideology. One of its trailblazers is the philosopher Judith Butler, a fellow of the Rockefeller Foundation and a proclaimed lesbian, who in 1990 published the book, Gender Trouble – Feminism and the Subversion of Identity.

Gender theory proclaims that our “social gender” is independent of our biological sex, so that we can “choose” whether we want to be a man or a woman.

At the policy level, this ideology becomes “Gender Mainstreaming,” which promotes:

  • Subversion of the identity of man and woman by destroying “gender-stereotypes” – beginning in kindergarten; and
  • Deregulation of normative standards of sexuality: Any kind of sexual practice – be it lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or transgender (LGBT) – has to be accepted by society as equivalent to heterosexuality. And this must be taught to children in school.

It has taken only 20 years for gender theory to become the ruling ideology of the West. At most universities, the new field of “gender studies” has been firmly established. In my native Germany, we have almost 200 women professors in that new field of so-called “science” – which really is nothing more than the ideological agenda of radical feminism and the homosexual movement combined. And students now must adhere to this ideology – just as their predecessors had to adhere to Marxist ideology under communism.

What Alexandra Kollontai could not achieve under a communist dictatorship has now become the global policy of the United Nations and the European Union. But the underlying agenda is disguised with words that abuse the great values of Christian culture: freedom, justice, tolerance, and human rights.

Central and Eastern European nations have now begun to realize that membership in the European Union has its costs. It not only brings them new economic possibilities but also the enforced destruction of their own value system – which, for many centuries, has served as the foundation of marriage and family.

In pursuit of their agenda, the UN and the EU work with an international network of political stakeholders, billionaire foundations, the mainstream media, and global NGOs like the International Planned Parenthood Federation and ILGA, the homosexual umbrella organization. They seek to impose the feminist and homosexual agenda on every nation around the world through the policy of gender mainstreaming and LGBT-rights.

Dear friends, we are indeed facing a global ‘anthropological revolution’, as Pope Benedict XVI termed it – one which attacks the very roots of human existence. This revolution has five political cornerstones:

  1. Elimination of fatherhood and motherhood
  2. Deprivation of the material basis of the family
  3. Legalization of abortion
  4. Homosexual “marriage,” including adoption and artificial child production
  5. Sexualization of children through obligatory comprehensive sexual education.

All this requires a response. In fact, faced with the demographic crisis in the West, and the moral and social breakdown of the family, we need a global movement that creates conditions under which the deepest longings of the human heart can be fulfilled. Such a movement should include:

  1. Re-awakening to the sanctity of fatherhood and motherhood
  2. Provision of the material basis of the family
  3. Protection of life – from conception to natural death
  4. Legally defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman
  5. Education of children and youth for marriage and family

As far as I can see, Russia is today the only country where there may be the possibility for church and state to rebuild the foundations of the family.

This International Forum could have a significant role in the global battle for a culture of life and the defence of marriage and family. May our political leaders be guided by wisdom and a commitment to the common good of humanity in the present political situation.

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Pro-marriage advocates must show love to all, "especially...those who disagree with us on this issue, and most of all, for those who are hostile toward us,” Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone told the 2014 March for Marriage in Washington, D.C. Dustin Siggins / LifeSiteNews.com
Lisa Bourne

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Rich liberal groups funded gay push on San Fran archbishop to back out of marriage march

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne

Tax-exempt homosexual activist groups attempted to coerce San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone out of his engagement as keynote speaker for the March for Marriage in Washington D.C. earlier this year, according to reports by his diocesan newspaper, a move that is part of a larger orchestrated campaign to fight the Catholic Church in the court of public opinion.

One of the homosexual activist organizations involved in financing the assailing of Archbishop Cordileone, the Arcus Foundation, has given funds to specifically target the Synod on the Family and World Youth Day, according to EWTN News. In one instance, Arcus gave a grant to Dignity USA "to support pro-LGBT faith advocates to influence and counter the narrative of the Catholic Church and its ultra-conservative affiliates."

Catholic San Francisco has reported extensively about how the Ford Foundation, Quark Inc. founder Tim Gill’s foundation, and the Arcus Foundation are at the top of a list of wealthy activist organizations that fund promotion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activity, and that they also donate extensively to faith-focused organizations that publicly dispute Catholic teaching on marriage and homosexual behavior.

The Ford Foundation gave more than $2 million to Faith in Public Life, which advocates against the Church on abortion, homosexuality, and marriage, and $900,000 to Catholics for Choice, which supports abortion.

Arcus has given roughly $1.5 million to groups calling themselves Catholic while advocating for homosexual behavior, including Dignity’s Equally Blessed Coalition, the Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual, New Ways Ministry, and Faithful America.

The Gill Foundation gave $100,000 to the Catholics United Education Fund, a prominent proponent of homosexual “marriage,” $17,500 in grants to Dignity USA, $5,000 to Faith in Public Life to research the religious right, and $20,000 to the same group to support Faithful America.

While Faithful America was the organization responsible for a petition trying to pressure Archbishop Cordileone out of speaking at the June 19 March for Marriage, it has gotten funding from the Gill Foundation, billionaire and Arcus Foundation Founder and President Jon Stryker, billionaire George Soros, and the Evelyn & Walter Haas Jr. Fund, according to Catholic San Francisco.

Two days before the Marriage for Marriage in Washington roughly 75 people marched to the archdiocesan offices in San Francisco to present the Faithful America petition, and a representative from the group emailed a letter to Archbishop Cordileone.

The letter, which selectively referenced Church documents and statements, as well as the words of Pope Francis, was signed by numerous pro-homosexual politicians, homosexual activist groups, and laicized and dissident clergy.

Archbishop Cordileone responded with a letter explaining his duty to speak the truth, offering to meet with those who opposed Church teaching on marriage and sexuality and informing them he would not back out of the March for Marriage.

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Anne Hendershott, a professor of sociology at Franciscan University, reported on Faithful America and the forces behind the attacks on Archbishop Cordileone in June for Crisis Magazine, noting that former Assistant Director of Media Relations for the USCCB John Gehring now works for the George Soros-funded Faith in Public Life and Faithful America.

“Gehring now spends his time attacking the same bishops he once worked for,” Hendershott wrote in her column.

She stated as well at the time that it is likely the attacks will continue to escalate.

Faithful America sent a call to action in a September 11 email to its subscriber list after Catholic San Francisco began reporting on who was behind the attacks on Archbishop Cordileone.

It referred to Archbishop Cordileone as “right-wing,” claimed he had a “hateful agenda,” admitted their goal is “attempting to change Church doctrine on matters of sexuality,” and expressed concern over reporting on its funding appearing in a diocesan publication versus other media.

The email called for support for an ad in the San Francisco archdiocesan newspaper with local Catholics criticizing Archbishop Cordileone, and “adding another organizer to Faithful America’s team.”

Jesuit Father John Piderit, moderator of the curia and vicar for administration for the Archdiocese of San Francisco, noted in Catholic San Francisco that Faithful America suggested it was ordinary Catholics that were upset about the archbishop’s decision to participate in the March for Marriage.

“To operate successfully in the public sphere, American Catholics need clear knowledge about the forces arrayed against them,” said Father Piderit. “Similar to other groups, Faithful America is a well-funded pressure group that espouses a variety of viewpoints contrary to Catholic teaching. Informed Catholics are aware that such groups regularly promote their viewpoints in the media.”

Hendershott identified this in her column as well.

“Still, no one should imagine that these attacks, so heavily funded by non-Catholic sources, reflect the views of faithful Catholics,” she said. “This is why even a well-funded dissident minority cannot ultimately weaken a church that is united and confident in its teachings and mission and, most importantly, enjoys divine protection.”

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