Patrick Craine

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Canada’s Evangelicals urge Toronto schools to uphold Catholic identity

Patrick Craine
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TORONTO, Ontario, August 30, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Canada’s Evangelical Christians are calling on the trustees at the Toronto Catholic District School Board to uphold a vigorous and authentic Catholic identity as they prepare to pass judgment Wednesday on crucial amendments to a controversial equity and inclusive education policy.

“We … encourage you to make your decision in a way that recognizes the raison d’être for the existence of the TCDSB and not to allow the unique nature and character of a Catholic education to be infringed upon by the actions of the Government of Ontario,” wrote Don Hutchinson, vice president and general legal counsel for the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, in an open letter Tuesday.

The school board’s equity policy, passed earlier this year as part of the Ontario government’s sweeping equity and inclusive education strategy, has sparked an unprecedented mobilization of parents over fears that the policy will give homosexual activists a foothold in order to further subvert already weak Catholic sexual teaching in the schools.

In response, trustees Angela Kennedy and John Del Grande put forward amendments designed to ensure that “equity” and “inclusion” are interpreted in a manner consistent with Catholic teaching.  Those amendments will be voted on at a meeting Wednesday evening at 7:00 p.m. at 80 Sheppard Ave. E.

Hutchinson told LifeSiteNews that he was not commenting on the amendments themselves, but calling on the trustees to consider them carefully in order to maintain the Catholic nature of the school board.  “That, I think, is critical to maintaining the sincerity of the diversity in our education system and in our country by retaining the unique identity, character, and principles of the Catholic faith,” he explained.

He said he believes that in a “pluralist democracy,” if parents choose to enroll their children in a faith-based school, “the school should be able to function from that religious belief, and educate from that religious belief without having their religious beliefs infringed upon by the policies of the Ministry of Education.”

Critics of the government’s equity strategy have pointed out that the Ministry’s documents recommend that schools celebrate the Gay Pride Parades, use texts by homosexual authors, and promote homosexual clubs such as gay-straight alliances.

Hutchinson expressed concern that the Ministry has focused on sexual orientation “without taking the time, and making the effort, to engage a broader policy dealing with discrimination on the basis of grounds prohibited under the human rights code. … It’s not balanced.”

In his letter to the trustees, Hutchinson urged them to “consider that such policies should not favour one group over another.”

In the effort to be welcoming of students, a school should not be “required to compromise the principles upon which [it] is established,” wrote Hutchinson.

“In a diverse, free and democratic society Catholic schools are expected to be distinctively Catholic,” he continued.  “Your existence as ‘Catholic’ benefits not only Catholic students and parents, but contributes to a genuine diversity in Canada by retaining an identity founded in the character and principles of your creed.”

Don Hutchinson’s letter to the trustees is available at the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada’s website here.

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