Patrick Craine

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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
[email protected]

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.

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Lisa Bourne

‘You can’t have’ marriage equality ‘without polygamy’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne

July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Motivated by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing homosexual “marriage,” a Montana polygamist has filed for a second marriage license, so he can be legally wed to two women at once.

"It's about marriage equality," said Nathan Collier, using homosexual advocates’ term to support marriage redefinition. "You can't have this without polygamy."

Collier, who has has appeared on the TLC reality show Sister Wives with his legal wife Victoria, and his second wife Christine, said he was inspired by the dissent in the Supreme Court decision.

The minority Supreme Court justices said in Friday’s ruling it would open the door to both polygamy and religious persecution.

“It is striking how much of the majority’s reasoning would apply with equal force to the claim of a fundamental right to plural marriage,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts.

Collier and his wives applied for a second marriage license earlier this week at the Yellowstone County Courthouse in Billings, a report from the Salt Lake Tribune said.

Collier, who was excommunicated from the Mormon Church for polygamy, married Victoria in 2000 and had a religious wedding ceremony with Christine in 2007. The three have seven children between them and from previous relationships.

"My second wife Christine, who I'm not legally married to, she's put up with my crap for a lot of years. She deserves legitimacy," Collier said.

Yellowstone County officials initially denied the application before saying they would consult with the County Attorney and get him a final answer.

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

Bigamy, the holding of multiple marriage licenses, is illegal all 50 states, but Collier plans to sue if his application is denied. Officials expect to have an answer for him next week.

While homosexual “marriage” supporters have long insisted legalization of same-sex unions would not lead to polygamy, pro-life and family advocates have warned all along it would be inevitable with the redefinition of marriage.

“The next court cases coming will push for polygamy, as Chief Justice John Roberts acknowledged in his dissent,” said Penny Nance, president of Concerned Women for America, after the Supreme Court ruling. “The chief justice said “the argument for polygamy is actually stronger than that for ‘gay marriage.’ It’s only a matter of time.”

In a piece from the Washington Times, LifeSiteNews Editor-in-Chief and the co-founder of Voice of the Family John-Henry Westen stated the move toward legal polygamy is “just the next step in unraveling how Americans view marriage.”

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Chris Christie: Clerks must perform same-sex ‘marriages’ regardless of their religious beliefs

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By Ben Johnson

TRENTON, NJ, July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Chris Christie is not known for nuance. This time, he has turned his fiery personality loose on county clerks and other officials who have religious objections to performing same-sex “marriages.”

In a tone usually reserved for busting teachers' unions, Christie told clerks who hold traditional values, “You took the job, and you took the oath.” He would offer no exemption for an individual whose conscience would not allow him to participate in a union the vast majority of the world's religions deem sinful.

“When you go back and re-read the oath it doesn’t give you an out. You have to do it,” he said.

He told a reporter that there “might” be “individual circumstances” that “merit some examination, but none that come immediately to mind for me.”

“I think for folks who are in the government world, they kind of have to do their job, whether you agree with the law or you don’t,” the pugnacious governor said.

Since the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to legalize homosexual “marriage” last Friday, elected officials have grappled with how to safeguard the rights of those who have deeply held religious beliefs that would not allow them to participate in such a ceremony.

Christie's response differs markedly from other GOP hopefuls' responses to the Supreme Court ruling. Mike Huckabee, for instance, has specifically said that clerks should have conscience rights. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed an executive order granting such rights and ordered clerks to wait until a pending court case was fully adjudicated before any clerk issues a marriage license to a homosexual couple.

Christie gave up a legal appeal after a superior court judge struck down his state's voter-approved constitutional marriage protection amendment. New Jersey is the only state where such a low court overturned the will of the voters.

The decision to ignore conscience rights adds to the growing number of Christie's positions that give conservatives pause.

The natural locus of support for a Christie 2016 presidential run is the Republican's socially liberal donor class, for personal as well as political reasons. His wife works on Wall Street, and some of the GOP's high-dollar donors – including Paul Singer – have courted Christie for years.

However, this year Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and to a lesser degree Scott Walker have eclipsed Christie as the preferred candidates of the boardroom donors – who sometimes prefer Democrats to Republicans.

Christie also used language during a speech before the Republican Jewish Coalition last year, which concerned some major GOP donors.

Christie is reportedly spending this weekend with Mitt Romney and his family at Romney's New Hampshire home. Romney declined to enter the 2016 race himself and may be able to open his donor list to Christie's struggling campaign.

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After having a girl with Down syndrome, this couple adopted two more

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By Ben Johnson

LINO LAKE, MN, July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – For most people, having five biological children would have been enough. In fact, for many Americans, large families are treated as a scandal or a burden.

But one family made the decision, not just to have a large family, but to give a home to some of the most vulnerable children in the world: Girls born overseas with Down syndrome.

Lee and Karen Shervheim love all seven of their children, biological or otherwise. Undeterred by having twin boys – Daniel and Andrew, 18 – they had Sam four years later.

They now have three daughters who are all 11 years old. All three have Down syndrome.

And two of them are adopted.

About the time their eight-year-old son, David, was born, Lee and Karen decided to adopt a child with Down syndrome to be a companion to their daughter, Annie.

They made the further unexpected choice to adopt a child from Eastern Europe with the help of Reece's Rainbow, which helps parents adopt children with Down syndrome.

“Between my wife and I, we couldn’t get it out of our heads,” Lee told the Quad City Press. “So many children need families and we knew we could potentially do something about it.”

After originally deciding to adopt Katie, they spent six weeks in Kiev, visiting an orphanage in nearby Kharkov. While there, they decided they may have room in their heart, and their home, for another child.

When they saw a picture of Emie striking the same pose as their biological daughter in one of their photographs, they knew they would come home with two children.

Both girls were the same age as their Annie. She would not lack for companionship, as they worried.

Lee said after the Ukrainian government – finally – completed the paperwork, they returned to the United States, when the real challenges began.

“The unvarnished truth,” Lee told the Press, is that adopting the Russian-speaking special needs children “was really disruptive to our family. They came with so many issues that we had not anticipated.”

After teaching them sign language and appropriate behavior, they moved to Lino Lake, Minnesota and found a new support group in Eagle Brook Church. There they found personal assistance and spiritual solace.

Every year in the past seven years has been better and better, they say.

“I think my girls can do almost anything they want to do,” he said, “and that’s what I want to help them become.”

The family's devotion is fueled by their faith, and it informs the sense of humor Lee showed in a tweet during the 2014 midterm elections:

It takes a special person to believe in the potential of the “mentally retarded,” as they were once labeled. Today, 90 percent of all babies diagnosed with Down syndrome in the womb will be aborted. The percentage is higher in some countries. Some have even spoken of "a world without people with Down syndrome."

Their God, and their experience, tell them that every child has infinite worth and potential, Lee told local media, and he would encourage anyone to follow his footsteps and adopt a Down syndrome child – or two.

“The message is that it really doesn’t matter where you started or where you came from,” Lee said. “There are endless opportunities for everyone, whether they have disabilities or not. They deserve a shot.”

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