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Canadian province demands faith-based schools purge religious content from policies

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CALGARY, September 27, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Alberta’s deputy education minister Curtis Clark is threatening the funding and accreditation of independent schools in the province if they don’t scrub a broad range of religious content from their policies, according to a correspondence obtained by the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF).

The correspondences identify examples of language from several schools’ “Safe and Caring” policies, which allegedly conflict with various provisions of the School Act, as well as “disrespect” diversity by “suggest[ing] alternative viewpoints are not equally legitimate,” and contain “provisions which we consider unwelcoming, uncaring, and/or disrespectful to certain segments of the student body.”

Examples of objectionable language include:

  • the declaration that “men and women were created in the image of God, after His likeness, and therefore have transcendent, intrinsic worth”;
  • the stated goal of “develop[ing] godly attitudes toward marriage and the family”;
  • reference to “the unchangeable and infallible truth of the Word of God”;
  • affirmation that men and women are “equal in dignity and worth” but have “distinct and complementary roles”;
  • statements that student clubs must align with “the values, principles, mission and vision of the school”:
  • the declaration that “Obedience to God’s law supersedes subjection to human authority”; and more.

Any offending schools that fail to remove the cited language from their policies may face investigation, “funding implications,” or the suspension or cancellation of accreditation,” Clark wrote in an August 27 email.

These demands were sent to schools who had submitted their policies to Education Minister David Eggen in March 2016 and had not received any feedback from Alberta Education until September 2018, the JCCF notes, “well after the start of the 2018-19 school year.”

“By demanding that independent schools remove religious content from their safe-and-caring policies, David Eggen is attacking the welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environment that these schools have in place,” attorney and JCCF president John Carpay said. “In the name of ‘diversity’ David Eggen is attacking the constitutional right to have thoughts, opinions and beliefs different than his own.”

Carpay questioned how “respectful” it is to ask independent schools to “repudiate their teaching that every woman and every man has transcendent, intrinsic worth, as created in the image of God,” and noted that religious affirmation of students’ intrinsic worth has implications for the common educational goal of fighting bullying.

“This is a naked and aggressive attack against the Charter rights and freedoms of every citizen, and designed to intimidate schools which are now asserting their Charter rights in court,” Carpay concluded. “These bullying tactics are what you would expect in a repressive third-world dictatorship, not in a functioning democracy that respects the rule of law.”

Most of the 61 targeted schools “already have carefully crafted safe-school policies that protect all students equally, and do so in harmony with their cultural and religious traditions,” Ed Hoogerdyk of Association for Reformed Political Action (ARPA) Canada added in the Lethbridge Herald. “This diversity is, apparently, intolerable for the procrustean education minister, who insists that all policies be worded as he wants, despite the lack of evidence that uniformity is needed.”

“The philosophical hypocrisy is obvious, and the clash of worldviews likely inevitable,” David MacKenzie of the Evangelical Office of the Public Square (EOPS) said in response to the news. “It seems increasingly apparent that authentic and conscientious Christians must now prepare for resistance, and civil disobedience.”

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